After yet another restaurant closed in the just-outside-of-Old-Town area of Alexandria, I was pleased to see that a Vietnamese restaurant was opening in its place. Pho 33 recently opened on John Carlyle Street so we went to check it out.
It's a medium-sized restaurant -- larger than you would expect, but not Cheesecake Factory-size, with brown wood tables and lots of lively plants. We were seated towards the back with a view of the restaurant. As most Vietnamese restaurants are not all that veg-friendly, this place surprised us. Although they have a simple menu, there are plenty of veg options!
Vegans have their choice of spring or summer rolls, pho soup, tofu platter, or tofu bahn mi sandwiches (I have not inquired about the bread so I don't know if it is vegan or not). I chose the pho soup. Pho is a Vietnamese soup traditionally made by simmering cow bones, whole sides of brisket and flank, herbs, and vegetables to make the broth, then filling it with vermicelli noodles, vegetables and meat. The vegan version is made in a special mushroom broth instead.
The bowl of soup they brought each of us was the size of like four soup bowls. The pho consisted of a mushroom broth with vermicelli noodles, carrots, celery, bamboo shoots, lemongrass, cilantro, tofu, and bean curd. On the side they served fresh bean sprouts, jalapenos, and basil as garnish. The broth was pretty plain, which made the entire soup pretty plain. I added lots of toppings as well as their hot sauce and sriracha to give it some flavor. In the end, it was just a good, plain noodle and vegetable soup.
I also had a lemongrass lemonade.
I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here, but if you are in the area, it's a decent lunch spot. I found the service to be not-that-great as it was hard to flag the waiter down when we needed him. The price of $8.95 for the pho wasn't so bad though. But, as I mentioned, the pho is pretty plain. That said, there are some tasty veggies and toppings included. Since I frequent this area, I'll definitely be back to try the bahn mi and if you make it out to try the pho, please let me know what you think!
540 John Carlyle Street
Alexandria, VA 22314