Pho, Fast and Friendly
I entered Pho is For Lovers a mere five minutes after the doors opened on a frigid Thursday morning. There was already a line of people young and old inside the popular, family-owned Vietnamese restaurant, whose flagship location is nestled in a busy shopping center on Greenville Avenue in Dallas. Clad in leggings and North Face jackets, customers waited to get their hands around an enormous bowl of the local spot’s most popular dish — traditional beef pho.
Standing behind the counter was restaurant manager Jennifer Tang. Her aunt and mother own the restaurant and launched a second location at CityLine, near the intersection of President George Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway, late last year.
“When it’s cold, it’s crazy busy,” Tang said as we sat for a quick chat about the history of the restaurant, the grand opening of the second location and, of course, the menu.
The original location of this popular Vietnamese joint opened in 2011 and just celebrated its five-year anniversary in July. Named for the location (Greenville and Lovers Lane) and the fact that “it’s always nice to take your date or ‘lover’ out to share a nice hot bowl of pho,” Pho is For Lovers has become a hit in the Dallas neighborhood and is sure to take off for CityLine crowds as well.
Tang will take over management at the new restaurant.
“There are a lot of Vietnamese restaurants in Garland,” she said, “but we wanted to do something quick service, where you can pick up pho really easily. It’s more of a fast, casual, really fresh place.”
Pho is For Lovers puts a strong influence on the fast, friendly and fresh aspects of their business. The restaurant originated with Tang’s mother and aunt, who decided after a trip back to Vietnam that it would be great to bring traditional Vietnamese eats to American palates. Still, they wanted to keep up with the American notion of quicker-than-quick service. They focused their vision for the restaurant on a more casual, upbeat vibe, topped off with the fast service that Americans treasure.
Even more, something that the owners understood was the love for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Everything on the menu — the pho, vermicelli noodles, rice plates, egg rolls and variety of vegetarian options — is served fresh every day. The restaurant receives shipments of vegetables every morning, ensuring that the sprouts, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, basil and everything else in your bowl are extra fresh.
Tang recommended the pho as my first pick off the menu, and I chose the chicken option. (The beef pho is her personal favorite.) As the customers rolled in, it became apparent that Tang wasn’t alone in her sentiments. It seemed that almost every person who walked in shivering from the cold ordered the beef pho.
“It’s rice noodles,” said Tang, explaining the process of bringing this favorite to life. “We cook the broth overnight for eight hours, and we soak the beef bones in it. From there, our cook comes in and she seasons it. It’s a long process.”
At the end of it all, it’s customers who benefit, as is apparent by the droves that poured in during my visit. I can say with certainty that Tang and her team are clearly doing something right.
Given that it was my first time, Tang explained to me how pho should be enjoyed: add sprouts, drop basil leaves and try with sweet hoisin or spicy Sriracha sauce. By the time I walked away from the bowl, I understood what all the fuss was about. My delight is something that Tang and the team at Pho is For Lovers enjoy most about serving customers.
“It’s exciting when people try it and they really like it,” she said. “They say ‘where has this been all my life?’”
And that is the question I had to ask myself once the experience was complete. n
Pho is For Lovers at CityLine Market is located at 1551 E. Renner Road, #820, Richardson. Learn more at phoisforlovers.com.