Fans of a certain nautical dining landmark have something extra to celebrate while ringing in the New Year. Seattle’s iconic Pho Bac boat-shaped restaurant — the nearly forty-year-old Little Saigon business, which has been closed for renovations since November 2018 — will officially reopen Wednesday, starting at 8:30 a.m. until the food is sold out. It’ll then begin regular service thereafter, operating side-by-side with newer offshoot Pho Bac Sup Shop (one of the city’s top Vietnamese places) across the lot.
Yenvy Pham — who along with her siblings, runs the restaurant her parents started back in the early ‘80s — tells Eater Seattle that, in addition to the signature pho, the menu will have beef rib bun bo hue: a spicy beef noodle-lemongrass pineapple beef broth, with ribs, tendon, blood cake, and pork shrimp meatballs. The kitchen and interior were upgraded (with a full bar), but the low-key diner atmosphere remains intact, alongside a few playful touches, such as a gold disco ball. “It has an unfussy, fast beer, and shot type of vibe,” says Pham. “Throwback to the ‘80s.”
Pho Bac started Seattle’s love affair with the namesake Vietnamese soup out of the boat-shaped building and has held a special place in the hearts of residents for the past four decades. But the infrastructure itself (which dates back to the 1950s) needed some love. Over the past year, Pham and the crew worked hard on getting things in order, hosting the occasional pop-up in the space, and are now ready to set sail for real — a relief for many impatient with the long remodeling process.