Go with the pho: In pursuit of hot soup in Calgary

As the temperature cools and the days shorten, autumn prepares us for the winter ahead. But if you’ve donned your turtleneck yet still find yourself shivering, warm up with a steaming bowl of aromatic pho. The following restaurants serve a wide range of this delectable Vietnamese specialty sure to stave off winter chills, if only for the time it takes to slurp them up.

Pang Pang Chinese Foods

119-14919 Deer Ridge Dr SE, Calgary, AB T2J 7C4

Don’t let the name fool you, Pang Pang in Deer Ridge offers Vietnamese-style vermicelli dishes as well as Western Canadian style Chinese food. The restaurant offers the standard mix of Vietnamese pho, from rare beef and beef ball variations, to hot and sour vegetarian soup. I recommend pairing an order of perfect grilled meat dumplings with a bowl of fabulous pho from this long-established community restaurant, then enjoy a beautiful fall walk among the leaves at Fish Creek Park.

Mina's Vietnamese Noodle Soup

715-12100 MacLeod Trail SE, Calgary, AB T2J 7G9

Feel a cold coming on? Mina’s offers a hot and spicy satay chicken pho that will clear your sinuses and ward off those nasty winter cold germs for the rest of the day. Be sure to arrive early at Mina’s if you want to get a seat for lunch – this place is busy! With super-fast service, you’ll be enjoying your pho in no time at all. Don’t worry if you can’t find a table, as the staff is also very efficient with takeaway orders.

Sunshine Vietnamese Restaurant

2112-380 Canyon Meadows Dr SE, Calgary, AB T2J 7C3

This tiny restaurant is tucked away in a strip mall on Canyon Meadows Drive. It’s open seven days a week to ensure that your pho cravings can be fulfilled all week long. The not-to-be-missed noodle soup here is the four-beef special pho with tendon, rare beef, cooked beef and beef balls – a very delicious and satisfying bowl on every level. While it’s perfectly enjoyable to eat in the restaurant, when you call in to order pho for takeout, they answer the phone with a cheery “Hello Sunshine!”

Tamarind Vietnamese Grill & Noodle House

908 12 Ave Sw, Calgary, AB T2R 0J4

If you are vegetarian or vegan or are dining with someone who is, Tamarind Vietnamese Noodle & Grill House is the place to go for meatless pho. Located right off the Kerby LRT station in the west end of downtown Calgary, this tiny mom and pop shop serves its own house-made tofu created with Canadian-grown, non-GMO soybeans, and the pho broth is 100 per cent vegan. Most importantly, the pho is both delicious and satisfying.

Pho Huong Viet Noodle House

3855 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T3E 0C3

This busy noodle house has expanded to two locations to keep up with the increasing demand for its rich, well balanced and completely mouth-watering beef satay pho. Both the 17th Avenue Southwest and Ranchlands locations are often packed to the rafters with pho enthusiasts. To avoid a wait, order your pho to go (prices are very decent) and enjoy slurping your noodles at home.

Pho Dau Bo

110-4909 17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2A 0V5

For many, the search for the best pho in Calgary begins and ends at Pho Dau Bo on International Avenue. This restaurant has it all, from well balanced, rich pho broth to decent service and a kid-friendly atmosphere. Visit on the weekend to try the bun bo Hue special, a regional Vietnamese pho that features pork sausage and which is not a regular find on most Calgary pho menus.

Pho Pasteur Saigon Restaurant

207 1 St SE, Calgary, AB T2G 2G3

If your travels don’t take you to International Avenue, the next best part of the city in which to find pho is Chinatown. Pho Pasteur Saigon has been around forever, and the decor is somewhat dated, but what really matters is the food. The menu at this hole-in-the-wall spot is very simple and features beef pho bowls only, but the broth is authentic and well seasoned. Note that this place is cash only.

Song Huong

1704 61 St SE, Calgary, AB T2A 4V5

If you crave pho authenticity, look no further than Song Huong on the east end of International Avenue just North of Elliston Park. The restaurant offers the standard pho variations as well as some unique, standout dishes. The place is particularly known for its bun bo Hue, a flat rice noodle pho with beef shank, Vietnamese sausage and pig blood jelly (more delicious than it sounds) with a lively, spicy broth. Just a note: this place is packed on weekends and is cash only.

Summertime, and the living is easy… especially when you’re situated on a west-facing patio with a cool mojito in your hand. Traditionally, the classic mojito consists of only five ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime juice, sparkling water and mint, but the Calgary cocktail scene has never been one to keep to tradition. Here are some of Calgary’s best twists on this classic Cuban cocktail. Image credit: iStock.com/id-art.
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