One of Seattle’s most recognizable names in Vietnamese food has big plans this summer. Pho Bac — the iconic restaurant that began with a red boat building in the early 80s — is expanding with a new location downtown at 1923 7th Avenue. The plan is to open the new outpost by mid-June, with a speakeasy-style cocktail bar called Phocific Standard Time upstairs that should be ready by late August or September.
Pho Bac’s co-owner Yenvy Pham, who opened the Vietnamese coffee shop and roastery Hello Em in early 2021, says the new spot will have the usual lineup of noodle soups the restaurant is known for, but the main difference will be the introduction of banh mi to the mix. The location will bake bread for the sandwiches onsite and showcase a few different types of banh mi, including one with meatballs and salt-cured egg yolks, a pork option with pho fat infused banana leaf, and a tofu pate offering. Although banh mi will be new to Pho Bac, Hello Em has been experimenting with varieties on the sandwich at its Little Saigon shop, with a pressed version that Pham calls a banh-mini.
While the new Pho Bac restaurant opening is imminent, the Phocific Standard Time bar is still a few months off, as the team plans to work on a robust lineup of Vietnamese-influenced cocktails, along with some bottled and canned beer. Pham hopes that, by the time it debuts, there will be more office workers milling around in the neighborhood, and she’s excited to be next-door to wine bar Le Caviste. “We kind of like having the vibe of being a place for afterwork drinks,” she says.
Pho Bac downtown location will be the fifth outpost for the Seattle institution, although the restaurant in Denny Triangle and the original location across the lot from Little Saigon’s Pho Bac Sup Shop are still temporarily closed at the moment (fried chicken purveyor Mangosteen is operating out of the boat). The Sup Shop and Pho Bac Rainier Valley are still open for takeout and onsite dining.