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Downtown Palo Alto gets new Vietnamese eatery

Uploaded: Mar 18, 2019
Pho Banh Mi, a new Vietnamese restaurant, is now open in downtown Palo Alto -- the only dedicated place to get pho and banh mi on University Avenue.

The 405 University Ave. restaurant is from the owners of Green Bakery & Cafe in Los Altos. They took over the space after Cafe Epi closed.

The newly opened Pho Banh Mi in Palo Alto. Photo by Elena Kadvany.

Pho Banh Mi serves several kinds of pho, including with filet mignon, brisket, beef, seafood, chicken and a vegan version. Diners can customize their pho with additional proteins, vegetables and spice. There’s also five kinds of banh mi — chicken, pork, lemongrass beef, vegetarian and pate and shredded pork — all served traditionally with pickled carrots, daikon, jalapeño, cucumber, cilantro and mayonnaise on a French baguette.

Other dishes include egg rolls, chicken wings, salads, vermicelli bowls and spring rolls.

Pho Banh Mi also serves fresh tea, boba, smoothies, Vietnamese coffee, beer and wine.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Tod, a resident of Green Acres,
on Mar 18, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Pho & Banh Mi on the sign. Is the name of the restaurant pho banh mi?

Posted by Grammar Police, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Mar 18, 2019 at 10:40 pm

Incorrect: "There's also five kinds of banh mi..."

Correct: "There are also five kinds of banh mi..."

Posted by Ross, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Mar 20, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Ross is a registered user.

I had the same thought as Tod, but the sign on the side of the awning leaves the ampersand off as the title suggests.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 20, 2019 at 9:15 pm

Mmmm, sounds great, looking forward to trying this ...
I am not expecting it to be as good as my favorite, Dac Phuc in downtown San Jose.
But it is a lot closer, certainly nicer inside and even in Palo Alto easier to find parking.

Is there a website or online menu somewhere?


Posted by Cross Bay Price Conversion, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 1:02 pm

I'm guessing the incredibly fresh and delicious Banh Mi I get in Fremont for $3.50 will run about $7.99 in PA.

Posted by Be thankful, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 4:49 pm

Cross bay- and you will be thankful to pay twice the price, given that there are zero ethnic grocery stores in Palo Alto, you should be thankful that they allow ethnic restaurants in town.

Posted by Andrea J, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 5:57 pm

Andrea J is a registered user.

Spot on,Cross Bay Price Conversion. The price of banh mi at the Los Altos sister restaurant, Green Bakery & Cafe, is $7.95.
Web Link

Posted by Glad to pay the price, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 6:08 pm

So glad to have a Pho and Banh Mi option here in Palo Alto - Hoping they do well and I for one have no problem paying the $8.95 price for the sandwich. Worth the extra not to drive all the way to SJ and back! I'll just walk over thank you very much! If you don't like the price and are unwilling to support a small business owner brave enough to open up shop on University Ave just move your behind along somewhere else and take your negativity with ya!...

Posted by Pho Sure, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 21, 2019 at 9:20 pm

I love Pho! It brings me back to the days when I served in Nam as a military advisor to the South Vietnamese Air Force.

After practicing flight maneuvers one of the South Vietnamese squadron leaders would recommend stopping by this little street vendor for a bowl of Pho. The Pho I recall had potato noodles, mung bean sprouts, pork, cinnamon basil, some hoisin sauce & some hot chili oil in it.

Pho is actually a North Viet Nam creation & I learned this as one day the street vendor was no longer there. The squadron leader said that chances are, the vendor was Viet Cong (South Vietnamese Communist guerillas) and had left to go fight.

There were other street vendors selling Pho but the Viet Cong-inspired version was the best...more flavorful & distinct than the purely South Vietnamese variant.

Probably why the Communists won the war as a good bowl of Pho can't be beat.

Posted by Pho What It's Worth, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Mar 22, 2019 at 2:48 pm

> I get in Fremont for $3.50 will run about $7.99 in PA.

> The price of banh mi at the Los Altos sister restaurant, Green Bakery & Cafe, is $7.95.

Since food cost for a 30 oz. bowl of Pho varies from $2.15 to about $3.68 depending on the ingredients, the Fremont price is the best providing it is not a lackluster bowl of Pho. The SF peninsula prices are marked up nearly 50% or more.

In Viet Nam, a decent bowl of Pho runs about $1.65.

In America, original-style Hanoi Pho is usually more expensive while Saigon-style Pho costs the least. The most expensive bowls of Pho run about $30-$35 which generally include Wagyu beef or lobster...non-traditional but used to increase the pricing.

To pay more than $15 in a restaurant for a 30 oz. bowl of Pho is akin to paying $35 for a hamburger although there is no accounting for lack of common sense.

A bowl of Pho from The House of An/Beverly Hills went for $5000 as part of a fundraising auction. It was made with A5 Wagyu beef, white alba truffles, a foie gras broth, hand-raised bean sprouts and "noodles" created, through some sort of gastronomic wizardry, from rare blue lobster meat.

Like an overpriced bowl of Ramen, some folks have no clue that they are getting ripped-off with these domestically-produced Asian style soups.

It's like paying $30.00+ for a plate of spaghetti.

Posted by Vu Than, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2019 at 5:31 pm

> ...some folks have no clue that they are getting ripped-off with these domestically-produced Asian style soups.

Americans will spend extra money for something they think is exotic & difficult to prepare. I run a pho shop in San Jose strip mall & am making a killing! $$$

Easy money...low overhead. American Dream.

Posted by Poser Banh Mi, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2019 at 7:09 am

This is designer Banh Mi for the uninitiated Palo Altans. If I saw Banh Mi at the price they are talking here, I would walk out. What an utter joke.
Would you pay $20 dollars for a turkey sandwich? Then you'll LOVE the $8 Banh Mi :)
Plus everyone will know you have no idea where to go or what you are doing.

Posted by R.Davis, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 23, 2019 at 8:00 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

Some Pho lovers are probably eagerly anticipating & awaiting Campbell's condensed and/or Progresso heat & serve Pho. Like minestrone, clam chowder & just about any other soup, a canned version is probably attainable albeit some sacrifice in overall authenticity.

This will reduce the price of Pho to less than a dollar if bought on 'special'. Another possibility is the folks at Top Ramen coming out with their own dried version...just add boiling water & a seasoning packet!

A major Pho pas.

Posted by 8 Buck Banh Mi?, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 23, 2019 at 8:38 am

You people are nutz. I have it about 2-3 times per week for lunch over in the fremont area. There are many truly authentic mom and pop single shop stores doing it right. A couple I like bake their rolls constantly so they are most always still warm when they hand it to you...heaven on a warm bun.
Of the places I frequent, all are in the $3.50 to $4.5 range.
I agree, spending 8 bucks on one would be akin to spending something like 30 dollars for a cheeseburger.

Posted by Lynn H., a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 30, 2019 at 7:05 pm

I like Lee's Sandwich shops. Their banh mi are cheap and there's a large selection. They bake their baguettes every morning. I like the roast pork. They also have small meals with rice and teriyaki beef to take out.

They have the traditional strong Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk. They have a great avocado smoothie. The closest one to PA is in Sunnyvale. I haven't been there for awhile so don't know if they still exist. Most of them are in San Jose.

For good pho and other Vietnamese food is Hometown Noodle on Middlefield Rd. in RWC. Very busy at lunch. The key to good pho is the broth. I like the seafood pho.

Posted by Lynn H., a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 30, 2019 at 7:20 pm

Another good pho place that's reasonable is Pho Avenue, 2500 El Camino on the corner of Showers drive in Mt. View. I had pho once and vermicelli the next time. Place is very popular with young Asians. Delicious meals there !

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 1, 2019 at 6:32 pm

>> Another good pho place that's reasonable is Pho Avenue, 2500 El Camino on the corner of Showers drive in Mt. View.

Sorry , it may be cheap, but that is because that place is worse than ghastly. Great if you like it, but you could run across the street and do much better for not much more.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 1, 2019 at 6:48 pm

Geez though, no phone number, no website, no menu,.

The oldest Yelp review is barely a week old and most are flat negative,
while some are trying hard to be positive, but they are not exactly glowing.
Most of the evidence is circumstantial, but points to the fact that they
do not really know how to cook these foods, but they know how to make
them look nice

There is a place over in Mountain View by CostCo that is the same, it is
nice on the inside and the food is attractive, but tasteless.

It just seems to me that the best Vietnamese places are dinghy on the
outside, they have no or rude service, but they do not cost much and the
food is really good. Real Vietnamese food is great.

I have not been to Pho Banh Mi Palo Alto, but if it is not good be sure to
try some other places ... and yeah, usually in San Jose. My favorite is
Dac Phuc on the corner of Santa Clara and Almaden Ave ... but don't
expect lots of superficial niceties. The #2 Pho is the best I have had,
but everything else I have had is also above average most days.

Of course you can get cheaper food farther away ... you can probably
get it even cheaper if you fly to Viet Nam ... the point is that everything
in Palo Alto is expensive, but at least it should be the best it can be.
From what I am reading even the positive reviews say this place has
a way to go.

Posted by 192.168.l.l , a resident of Stanford,
on Apr 12, 2019 at 10:27 am

192.168.l.l is a registered user.

I'm getting excited about this kind of beneficial article. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by, a resident of Slater,
on Apr 13, 2019 at 2:35 am is a registered user.

I have read the information you have shared with us and I found its very interesting.

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