Pho Restaurants in the United States - Pho on the Move

Updated 09-22-09. Here are some stats on Vietnamese pho restaurants in the U.S. - part of a market analysis project I'm working on. The results are still preliminary but worth sharing. I had many sources, but the data presented here came from PhoFever.com's own Pho Restaurant Directory. Thanks to Tom Nguyen of PhoFever.com for keeping up the database. I'll share other interesting info as they become available.

Caveat #1. The pho restaurant industry in the U.S. is quite dynamic, and with the popularity of pho on the increase, new pho restaurants are open all the time. I don't think there is a list anywhere that can call itself a complete pho restaurant directory. Since many available pho restaurant lists are really voluntary efforts, meaning the restaurants are either submitted by the restaurateurs themselves, or by diners giving reviews, the "most complete" list would have to be one that is active and updated often. I think PhoFever.com's directory is a good starting point.

One thing is for sure: the actual pho restaurant industry is larger than shown here. Once we can include them all, I'm sure adjustments of the rankings for some markets will need to be made. Not all, just some.

Caveat #2. Because of the dynamic nature of the pho market and the voluntary nature of these databases, absolute numbers are not available at this point. Much more important, though, are trends for relative comparison and quick glance purposes. You won't find exact numbers here, or anywhere else.

Caveat #3. Many many Vietnamese restaurants offer pho, but some specialty restaurants do not. Though they exist, I don't expect many non-pho restaurants present in PhoFever.com's Directory.

On with the stats. Below are some snapshots of the data. The market analysis itself is much more extensive. Click on the graphics to get larger versions.

Top U.S. Cities With Pho Restaurants

The first graph shows the top 15 American cities with the largest number of pho restaurants. Many of us take for granted that we have a pho shop right around the corner, within driving distance, or multiple places to go for our pho fix. For many others, such luxury is not available to them. Much more detailed stats to come.

Top US cities with number of pho restaurants

Pho Restaurants in California Cities

An overwhelming number of Vietnamese live in California, with many many more pho lovers who are not Vietnamese. Here are the number of restaurants doing business in California cities. San Francisco leads the pack with trendy places, high tech-mined population, cool young and old people (both restaurateurs and diners,) and a huge number of Chinese/Viet descents. My San Diego is not doing too bad at rank number 5. Collectively though, Orange County is still the place to go if large numbers matter to you.

Pho-restaurants-by-CA-cities

Pho Restaurants by States

Of course east and west coasts of the U.S. have the most pho restaurants. Houston, Texas stands its own ground smack in the center of the country, of course with a very large Viet presence there. So what's amazing? It's the fact that, though still sparse in many places, there are now pho restaurants in all 50 states, including Alaska, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota! The U.S. is a big place, so there's still some more work to do.

Pho restaurants by states

Stay tuned for more stats from the analysis.

28 comments

  1. chuynh 15 July, 2010 at 05:03 Reply

    Hi petercuong: Good question and I think on your quest to find the answer to this question you will find that this pho is not so simple, and therefore one shouldn’t expect a simple answer. Maybe you should approach it from the standpoint of recognizing pho as an intricate culinary creation, then take down each answer as an element of the overall answer. Only then will your mind be at ease 😉

    Sometime the simplest of question sparks the most complex of answer(s).

  2. chuynh 15 July, 2010 at 05:04 Reply

    Hi petercuong: Good question and I think on your quest to find the answer to this question you will find that this pho is not so simple, and therefore one shouldn’t expect a simple answer. Maybe you should approach it from the standpoint of recognizing pho as an intricate culinary creation, then take down each answer as an element of the overall answer. Only then will your mind be at ease 😉

    Sometimes the simplest of question sparks the most complex of answer(s).

  3. Laqeesha Jones-Tran 12 April, 2012 at 15:37 Reply

    Pho is da bombizzle fo shizzle my nizzle. I be eating good. I wish it had bbq pho though for my appetite. I like chicken and watermelon pho but no bbq pho. We need some for the colored folks.

  4. Billy Bob Nguyen 12 April, 2012 at 15:48 Reply

    @Laqeesha where do you find watermelon pho? That sounds good. The best pho I’ve had was in a narrow alley behind a laundromat from a Taco truck. The guy said it was taco pholicious #4 combo. This was in Compton, CA near a Korean market and Hung Dong Phuoc nail salon.

  5. chuynh 12 April, 2012 at 16:31 Reply

    Laqeesha Jones-Tran: Did you mean you had “chicken and watermelon pho”, or “chicken pho” and “watermelon pho”? I don’t know about bbq pho, as the broth would dilute the bbq goodness, wouldn’t it? Or maybe you meant bbq flavored pho? Or how about this: Vietnamese do use the bánh phở noodle in many dishes, soup and dry including fried banh pho noodle. One of my favs is what we call “bò kho” or Vietnamese beef stew which is definitely western influenced. Many Vietnamese enjoy bò kho with baguette dipped in it, or over white rice which is classic, while yet many others like me love to eat it over, guess what, bánh phở noodle, the same kind used in phở! Yeah so it is not unthinkable that you can have bbq pho, with some fall-off-the-bone bbq beef tenderness! Sounds really yummy actually.

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