Restaurant Spotlight: Pho Viet brings Vietnamese soup to Petworth

Pho Viet USA manager Layla Nguyen takes delivery orders

by Yuliya Panfil

Editor's Note: Over the last year, Petworth has seen a bumper crop of high-end, trendy restaurants including Himitsu, Ruta del Vino and Ten Tigers Parlour. These delicious restaurants have definitely generated a buzz for the neighborhood, and have left us spoiled with serious splurge options. But what about a “go-to” spot that will leave you satisfied while being more affordable? Better yet, a spot that’s open for lunch, or that offers quick take-out you can pick up on your way home from work?

Petworth News is pleased to profile several new mid-range restaurants that have opened in the neighborhood, and a few not so new ones that you should know about. These restaurants serve delicious ethnic food from four different continents, and are often run by immigrants whose fascinating stories add even more flavor to their food.

Please check back on Thursdays for new installments of Restaurant Spotlight

Get to know Pho Viet USA, a new addition to Petworth's food scene, located at 3713 New Hampshire Ave NW.

Pho Viet USA, a bright new Pho shop that opened across from the Georgia Ave metro in November, has a small menu. You can get Pho (beef pho, chicken pho, shrimp pho, combo pho, veggie pho). You can get spring rolls and egg rolls... and that’s pretty much it. That’s by design, says manager Layla Nguyen, who moved to the US from Vietnam six years ago.

“In Vietnam, when you go to a family restaurant they have one type of food,” she explained. “Street food in Vietnam is one dish for one store, for generations.”

By concentrating on Pho, a hearty nice noodle soup in a steaming, aromatic broth, Nguyen said she can perfect the dish and offer the best quality and service to her customers.

Indeed, the Pho here is delicious. My husband and I recently popped in for the beef Pho, which Nguyen says is one of her most popular offerings. We each ordered the “small” soup for $8.99 but it was still so large that we barely finished. The broth was particularly rich and flavorful, topped with freshly chopped scallions and served with bright bean sprouts, tangy lime wedges, and aromatic herbs. The veggie spring rolls were OK, but that’s not what you come here for.

Beef pho with spring rolls and a Vietnamese ice tea

The best part: we put in our order at 6pm and our soup came out at 6:04. A limited menu offering allows Pho Viet to turn fresh food around lightning fast.

Others seem to be liking the new neighborhood spot as well. Google reviews give Pho Viet USA – not to be confused with Pho Viet Restaurant on 14th Street, which is run by different owners – a 4.6 star review. Yelp gives it 4 stars.

Nguyen says the restaurant has been getting steady business, particularly through online delivery platforms like Seamless and Uber Eats. Pho Viet is open for lunch, and Nguyen says lunch demand is approximately equal to dinner demand. That’s a good sign for other Petworth restaurants, which have been hesitant to open during lunch hours.

“Customers are welcoming, and they also give us feedback,” Nguyen said, mentioning that when the restaurant first opened customers asked for more noodles in their soup. “We’re improving day by day.”

Indeed, a quick scan of the Yelp reviews confirms that concerns are taken seriously.

“I'm happy to say that my most recent bowl of pho here addressed all my original minor concerns,” writes a Yelp reviewer. “Fat content was rich, likely because there was more raw meat in the bowl. The amount of noodles was also addressed (generous amount).”

As with many restaurants, Pho Viet USA has a quirky, unique back story.

This is the restaurant’s second location; the first opened two years ago in downtown Baltimore. At the time, Nguyen and the restaurant’s owner, Katie Dang, were working at a hotel across the street from the Baltimore courthouse. Dang and Nguyen noticed that around mid-day, hungry jurors reporting for jury duty would pour out of the courthouse and wander around, looking for non-fast food options.

Dang and Nguyen spotted an opportunity and opened a tiny Pho shop in a previously vacant shop next door to the hotel. Soon, they had lines out the door.

The duo decided to open in Petworth next because they saw the development in the neighborhood and noticed there wasn’t a Vietnamese spot nearby. She said that so far, the gamble is paying off.

Pho Viet lit up at night

“We took a leap of faith,” Nguyen said. “The neighborhood is very friendly. We’re happy that we can bring happiness to them.”

Pro Tip: If you want to spice up your Pho, ask for lemongrass chili paste. The sauce is not on the menu, but Pho Viet staff developed it as a hack to spice up Pho for customers who like a little more heat in their dish.

Pho Viet USA
3713 New Hampshire Ave NW
Mon – Sat 11am – 9pm

Pho Viet staff prepare delivery orders