Many of these restaurants feature a variety of dishes on their menus ranging from pho to meat and rice dishes to vermicelli bowls to bahn mis. However, when I’m craving the real deal on a blustery fall day, there is really only one option for me.
The red boat that is Pho Bac sits at the intersection of Boren, Rainier, and Jackson and has become a bit of a landmark in the International District. Adorned with Christmas lights and fishing nets year-round, this neighborhood gem arguably makes the best pho in the city (and it’s ALL they make).
I have a go-to order basically every time: small pho tai with rare beef (go with a large if you dare) and a Mexican Coke. The pho arrives almost instantaneously without fail and I adorn mine with fresh Asian basil, bean sprouts, lime, jalapeno, and a healthy dose of Sriracha. The beef broth is perfect and the folks at Pho Bac have nailed the ratio of meat to noodles.
As I slurp my soup in solo-mode, I am able to glance around and acknowledge how this hole-in-the-wall (or boat-in-the-wall, rather?) is so quintessentially Seattle. Pho Bac is in power-lunch mode and I am surrounded by conversations taking place in several different languages, businessmen in suits, Capitol Hill hipsters, and of course, the token guy wearing Tevas in mid-October.
Yes, there are kitchy fake flowers everywhere. Yes, you are using plastic chopsticks and spoons from a community station at your table that may or may not have been washed that day. But Pho Bac knows their pho and when you can get in and out for less than ten bucks, it’s pretty hard to beat.
Pho Bac, 1314 South Jackson, Seattle, WA, 206.323.4337 (No vegetarian dishes, sorry).