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Isn't pho what you need?

Image: Ba Bar

If it hasn’t been officially declared the civic dish of Seattle, a trillion devotees of the potent Vietnamese noodle soup have informally made it so. The steaming broth is popular all year but goes seriously craveable during cold season. Here are four of Seattle’s very best:

Pho Bac

The little red boat at the intersection of Rainier and Jackson, and its two siblings, have become this city’s primary go-to for pho—thanks to robust broth, plentiful greens for herbal counterpoints, and admirable consistency. They also offer Chinese doughnuts for dipping, which arrive warm and flaky.

Ba Bar

This irrestistible mashup of authentic Saigon street food with stylish Seattle bar scene features three or four exquisite phos at dinner (till 2am weekends) and maybe twice that many by day; the oxtail is a fathomless wonder. Yes, cocktails do go with pho.

Pho Ba

Who needs decorative appeal when your pho is this fine? The International District storefront features a forever-cooked broth, lyrical with flights of cloves and cinnamon. The #8 (round steak) is the most popular, with reason.

Stateside

The casually gorgeous Capitol Hill Cafe serving elegant Vietnamese food usually features a beef pho in its weekend brunch lineup: a masterpiece of authenticity. But classically trained chef Eric Johnson also uses the potent soup in unexpected ways—as braising liquid for the beef in the potstickers, for instance, or as jus for the pulled beef Pho’rench Dip sandwich. (Disclaimer: This pun wasn’t mine and thus could not be helped.)

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