Go beyond banh mi with crab and pork tomato soup, crispy pho grilled cheese and ribeye carpaccio at this Calgary–based Vietnamese spot.
1609 Centre St. NW, #101
City + Province
Think of this Crescent Heights spot as the more self–assured, prom–going, second–generation teenage offspring of crosstown parent Phô Dâu Bò. This is where you want to drop in at all hours to snack, gossip and listen to BTS and Nick Jonas tunes. A breezy, youthful attitude holds sway amid sheepskin throw–covered wicker chairs and tables made from upcycled wooden chopsticks, while the menu puts polished, creative hybrid dishes alongside pho soups and banh mi sandwiches.
The slap–in–the–face invigorating coconut iced coffee is a tall, columnar cloud of white coconut slushy that rises like a prairie snowdrift above a glass filled with sweet Vietnamese coffee. The genius, super crispy pho grilled cheese deconstructs the classic noodle soup by serving it alongside a shot of scallion–flecked pho broth for dipping, leaving Velveeta panting in the dust. Roasted bone marrow and mini toasts are the decadently rich and fatty opposite of a palate cleanser.
The refreshing follow–up, a magical rare rib–eye carpaccio, is like a play on steak tartare that connects Calgary and Hanoi. Bathed in a sweetly pungent, spicy lime vinaigrette, it’s loaded with fresh basil, bright red bird’s–eye chili and thinly sliced onion, then topped with a raw quail egg and showered with crispy deep–fried shallots.
A sign in pink neon cursive reads, “This is what you came Pho.” To which, by the end of this crazy, rich meal, we want to reply, “Pho sure!” and high–five owners Sarah Luong and Long Thai.
Don’t miss: The pho grilled cheese, the ultimate 1.5–gen Vietnamese comfort food.