Where to Find the Best Vietnamese Food in Boston

By Eric Twardzik
Where to Find the Best Vietnamese Food in Boston

Boston’s considerable Vietnamese population has blessed us with pho spots and banh mi shops aplenty, but there’s more to the local Vietnamese cuisine scene than just mom-and-pops. From a cutting-edge café to a bold Viet-Cajun restaurant and the authentic eats of Dorchester, there are a lot of noodle bowls, rice plates, and spring rolls to eat—so here’s a curated guide to the best Vietnamese food in Boston.

Ba Le

Ba Le - Where to Find the Best Vietnamese Food in Boston

Ba Le is where to stop for banh mi on Dorchester Avenue, a thoroughfare of authentic Vietnamese restaurants in Fields Corner. The bustling bakery and coffee shop makes its own baguettes daily, among its full Vietnamese menu. Nearly a dozen varieties of the traditional sandwich are available here, all amped up with house-made mayo, fish sauce, scallion oil, and fresh and crunchy aromatics. Banh Mi Dac Biet is the classic cold-cut and pȃté “combination pork,” and other good choices include the BBQ Beef and Anh Mi Xa Xiu (braised pork belly).

Pho Viet's - Best Vietnamese Food in Boston one of the Restaurants near Boston University
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

This family-owned Vietnamese restaurant is a local mainstay with locations on Commonwealth Avenue near the BU campus and in Newton Centre. Pho Viet’s affordably priced fare runs the gamut from Banh Mi to Com Dia (rice plates) and Bún (vermicelli noodles) to bowls of pho. We love the pork sandwich, as well as Bún Ga Nuong (lemongrass chicken with vermicelli) and Pho Dac Biet (beef noodle soup), but it’s not just carnivores who are satiated at Pho Viet’s. There’s a lengthy menu of vegetarian dishes, too.

Nightshade Noodle Bar

Nightshade Noodle Bar Boston

Worth the visit to downtown Lynn, Nightshade Noodle Bar serves a unique take on French-Viet cuisine, with touches of coastal Cajun and New England cooking. The mix yields wonderfully creative dishes like Lobster Garlic Noodles, Bone Marrow Fried Rice, and the Nightshade Lobster Roll with lemongrass Cajun butter. As a balance to all that flavor, consider the acidic touch of a tropical-style drink like the Nightshade Mai Tai or a Coconut Margarita made with smoked vanilla. Check out Nightshade for casual takeout lunch, a la carte dining, or adventurous blind tasting menus.

Pho Pasteur in Boston
Credit: Brian Samuels Photography

A landmark in Boston’s Chinatown—and a de facto date spot for college students in Downtown Boston—Pho Pasteur is a longtime favorite for serving heaping bowls of noodle soup at lightning-fast speed. We appreciate that, but Pasteur also delivers where it counts the most: in flavor. The Beef Noodle Soup is zesty and savory, and the oversized Bún Thit Heo Nuong is a vermicelli dish rounded out by sweet thin-sliced pork. The restaurant also dedicates considerable menu space to chicken broth-based pho, a must for cold season. Pho Pasteur also has a South Shore location in Quincy.

Cicada Coffee Bar

Cicada Coffee Bar
Brian Samuels Photography

This little coffee bar (with beer, wine, and sake!) near Central Square serves specialty drinks made from Vietnamese coffee, plus an all-day menu of noodles dishes, banh mi, and pastries by chef Brian Mercury of Café Beatrice. Try a Sai Gon Latte (Vietnamese espresso and condensed milk) or Sea Salt Shaker (Vietnamese drip coffee with Maine sea salt and sweetened condensed milk) with Passion Fruit Brioche and a bowl of ginger Duck Bone Broth with rice noodles and bamboo shoots. By night on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Cicada Coffee Bar goes more upscale with reservation-only dinner options like Lemongrass Duck Tartare and Torched Salmon with fried shallots and black rice.

Pho Le

Pho Le - Where to Find the Best Vietnamese Food in Boston

Among many Vietnamese restaurants that populate Dorchester’s Fields Corner neighborhood—aka Boston’s “Little Saigon”—Pho Le stands out with Vietnamese crêpes and its namesake Special Beef Noodle Soup (Phở Đặc Biệt). Bring some friends to venture beyond the expected staples and into the large-format specials, which include a whole oven-roasted catfish served with fried shallots, roasted peanuts, and an entire platter of vegetable sides. True carnivores can partake in the famous Seven Course Beef, which provides thinly sliced meats to be cooked tableside or rolled into rice paper wrappers and dunked in pineapple-anchovy sauce.   

Pho n’ Rice

Pho n’ Rice

A trip across the Charles River to Somerville brings us to Pho n’ Rice, an eatery that dabbles in Thai and Vietnamese staples—and excels, at the latter in particular. Classic Pho Dac Biet is a light but savory noodle soup of beef broth with a satisfying complexity, and Bún Thit Nuong tops rice noodles with crispy, charred lemongrass chicken. We also admit a soft spot for crispy spring rolls (who can resist?) and the Pho n’ Rice Special Short Ribs, which sees beef marinated in a sweet house-made barbecue sauce before being charcoal-grilled to tender perfection.

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