8624 N. Lamar, 491-9188
Ba Le is at the top of the Vietnamese bakery heap, with extraordinary baguettes and baked sweets. It also produces some of the finest (and least expensive) sandwiches in the city -- try the gourmet, meatball, pork roll, or the chicken for a fast taste treat. Ba Le has a number of soups and noodle dishes, and the sesame beef jerky (available by the bag as well) and shredded papaya salad plate shouldn't be missed.
888 Vietnamese Restaurant
911 W. Anderson, 302-5433
888 is a homey little noodle house that does a brisk business, with a heavy concentration on pho, noodle soups, and rice platters. Several good bun selections are available for the serious vermicelli freaks in the crowd. Try the specials of Vietnamese Beef Stew and the Steamed Rice Paper Rolls with assorted fillings. No meal is complete without a jackfruit shake.
Fortune Pho 75
5501 N. Lamar, 458-1792
Fortune is in a dead-heat tie for best bowl of bun (vermicelli noodles with assorted toppings) in the city. The #56 is absolutely incredible, although many go there for the dynamite soups. It has superb spring rolls (fresh and fried) and a full menu of Vietnamese and Chinese entrees. Lunch buffet is Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 2:30pm. It would be fortunate for you to visit this place.
9200 N. Lamar, 834-1736
This self-described Hue Cafe, featuring the foods of the Center region of Vietnam, sports two of our favorite Vietnamese treats. Shrimp pâté wrapped around sugar cane can be had as an appetizer or as a topping for a bowl of bun. Ditto for the broiled beef wrapped around scallion. It has many selections of appetizers, soups, noodles, and rice plates (com). A fine little noodle house with friendly folks.
Kim Phung Restaurant
7601 N. Lamar, 451-2464
Kim Phung gets partial credit for starting the Vietnamese craze in Austin. It has a very complete menu, moderate prices, and tasty, dependable food served by an on-the-mark staff. The hot and sour soup rocks, and the lunch specials are delicious, big, and cheap. Most go for the bowls of pho or the bun, but give the dinners a try next time (especially #107, shrimp with garlic, hot pepper, and lemongrass).
Pho Cong Ly
2121 E. Oltorf, 448-4195
8557 Research, 832-5595
215 E. Sixth, 236-8878
Pho Cong Ly has separate local owners, although it is a national chain. The food can vary slightly from location to location, but all of it is good. Wildly popular among the serious phoholics in our midst, every location has a huge selection of soups and soup noodles. Try some of the specialty puddings next time, and the bun ain't too bad either.
Saigon Deli and Market
8610 N. Lamar, 837-6641
A true hidden gem of a cafeteria-style buffet and deli counter. Most get food to go, but a few tables are available for in-house dining. Gracious service and huge servings of fabulous home-style Vietnamese food for little prices. Find the elusive Bahn Xeo (egg and coconut milk crepe w/ shrimp) and the best char siu roast pork around these parts. Wonderful people and chow; go now.
4323 S. I-35, 326-3969
Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm; Sun, 11:30 am-9pm
The only source for good specialty Vietnamese grub south of the central Research corridor and Fortune Pho -- a southerly boon for us Bubbas. A large, complete menu with all the bases covered. The Special Dishes menu is where Saigon Kitchen shines, with selections like Fish Simmered in Fish Sauce, Special Hot Pot, and Tofu Braised in Chile and Lemongrass. Check out the lunch specials and the chalkboard.
8776-B Research, 451-5051
13945 Research, 291-5054
Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5-10pm;
Sat, 11:30am-10pm; Sun, 11:30am-9:45pm
Sea Dragon has helped educate Austin diners to the nuances of Vietnamese food for the last 12 years. It has a four-page Vietnamese menu loaded with choices, heavy on the spicy and the seafood specialties -- a myriad of selections. The prices are medium and the portions big. The lunch buffet is a nice blend of Chinese and Vietnamese, and very popular. Go, and think seafood.
TAM Deli and Cafe
8222 N. Lamar, 834-6458
TAM is a new arrival on the Vietnamese scene. It's a relatively small cafe, with all the requisites of the noodle spot, including pho, sandwiches (shrimp for $3), rice plates, and bun (crab meat and shrimp paste for $4.25). The appetizer of shrimp paste with tofu wrapper ($3.50) sounds intriguing, and the salads look nice. It has a full line of desserts and Vietnamese drinks.
1601 Ohlen, 832-8393
Tan Tan is a jewel for the bun aficionado, ranking in a dead heat for superiority. It's an extremely popular spot, with a nice crowd of diners all day long -- large bowls of pho and noodle soups in front of the majority of them. Try the bun with shrimp curry or the assorted meats with pan-fried egg noodle. You will not be disappointed.
Triumph Coffee Shop
3808 Spicewood Springs, 343-1875
Mon-Thu, 7am-7pm; Fri, 7am-11pm; Sat, 8am-11pm
Triumph imports incredible coffee, which is grown on the family's coffee plantation in Vietnam, and bakes exceptionally fine French pastries. Spring rolls are popular at lunch, and some limited French entrees are big at night. Triumph continues to add more classic Vietnamese fare to the eclectic menu as time goes on, such as pho and bun.
9717 N. Lamar, 832-8393
Mon-Fri: 11am-2:30pm, 5-10pm; Sat-Sun, 11:30am-10pm
Twin Dragon is the other grand dame of Vietnamese cuisine in Austin, with a very loyal, large and satisfied following. The menu is extremely complex and varied, covering all the requisites and then some. Try the mussels with lemongrass or the fish and shrimp in hot and sour soup. Chef William Wong produces dim sum every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm, and during the week the lunch buffet is hopping from 11:30am to 2pm. Prices are low to moderate.