10 Cheap Vietnamese Snacks in Little Saigon, San Francisco

Pho from Pho 2000 ($6.89 (small)/$7.89 (large))

San Francisco's damp fog and freezing wind creates perfect pho weather. There are plenty of options in Little Saigon, but my stomach groans for a steaming bowl from Pho 2000. The balanced broth has a clean taste that's neither salty nor muddled by too many spices. Though the #1 Combination swims with chewy tripe, tendon, fatty flank steak and every other cut of meat, the soup manages to be refreshing, particularly after a squeeze of lime and shower of bean sprouts and Thai basil. The rice noodles are chewy and so easy to slurp you may need to order more. No problem, it's a common request. Opt for the small size with whichever meat combination you like, and you'll leave with leftovers.

Pho 2000: 637 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 (map); (415) 474-1188

[Photograph: Colin Price]

Colin Price and Alissa Merksamer

If you dodge the druggies and hobos living in the pocket of the Tenderloin called "Little Saigon," you'll discover some standout Vietnamese food. Officially, "Little Saigon" refers to the strip of Larkin between Eddy and O'Farrell where the majority of Vietnamese restaurants and businesses congregate. In reality, the area extends up to Geary and over to Jones.

For this list, we conveniently omitted restaurants located on the more terrifying blocks of Hyde and Jones, not for lack of trying but because they consistently disappointed with wilted herbs, tough meat, and questionable cleanliness. With so much competition within a four-block radius, it was easy to cull the excellent from the mediocre and even easier to stay under $10 a dish.

Check out the slideshow for pho, banh xeo, sugarcane juice, and a whole lot more.

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