Sacramento’s top 10 best pho restaurants

Our writer rounds out his favorites.

I couldn’t possibly try every pho restaurant in the Sacramento area, but these 10 serve up a really good bowl. The soup at each eatery changed from visit to visit, so I’ve included a small memory about each—but be warned, the descriptions are in no way representative of how it may taste on a daily basis. That’s sort of the magic of pho.

1. Pho Anh Dao

6830 Stockton Boulevard, Suite 165; (916) 428-2826

The entire experience here makes you feel like you’re on vacation: The slower pace of service, the bustling strip mall, sharing a table with strangers, the numerous languages spoken by other customers. Pho Anh Dao’s chicken and beef broth are both delicate in flavor.

2. Pho Lotus Vietnamese Restaurant

9600 Bruceville Road, Suite 100 in Elk Grove; (916) 686-9474;

The beef broth at Pho Lotus has depth, with equal parts marrow and standard beef stock. The homemade chili oil is a great condiment.

3. Star Ginger

3103 Folsom Boulevard, (916) 231-8888,

True to its name, there’s lots of star anise and ginger flavor here, which makes for a fresh and delicious bowl of chicken pho.

4. Pho Xe Lua

5331 Stockton Boulevard, (916) 451-8838

This place serves a tasty bowl for pretty cheap, and its portions are huge—a great overall value for hungry pho eaters.

5. Pho Aroma

6434 Stockton Boulevard, (916) 393-9988

Like its name suggests, the broth here is very aromatic. It’s dark and features a lot of beef-marrow scent and taste.

6. Pho 54 Vietnamese Noodle House

6191 Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights, (916) 727-9123

It’s a dark, cloudy broth with intense beef flavor and lots of cilantro floating at the top of the bowl.

7. Pho Viet

5948 Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights, (916) 338-1868,

There’s a lot of star anise flavor in Pho Viet’s beef pho. The chicken pho features tender chicken and a very clear broth.

8. Pho Saigon Bay

various locations,

This pho broth here is clear, and the chain is known for offering heaping piles of meat and veggie toppings.

9. Pho Bac Hoa Viet

various locations,

A few of Pho Bac Hoa Viet locations are open late, so it’s perfect for a hankering of late-night pho. Some locations offer the Pho Challenge, a gigantic bowl that should only be attempted by really hungry customers.

10. Pho No. 1

5323 Sunrise Boulevard in Fair Oaks, (916) 966-2020; 7127 Elk Grove Boulevard, Suite 101 in Elk Grove; (916) 683-8384

The soup here has very soft noodles and delicate beef broth that’s relatively clear, yet flavorful.