Pho Vietnam2214 Rogers Ave. Fort Smith, AR 72901 479.782.3227
It’s gotta be said right up front. It’s in a gas station. No, not like a Taco Bell in an Exxon or a greasy “burrito” and things they insist are “potato logs” next to the baccy and fish bait at the corner Kum ‘n Go.
A REAL former gas station. The parking lot stays full during meal hours with cars stacked up by the pumps outside, so there’s no getting around that fact. Classy this joint ain’t. But it’s nothing compared to what you find inside.
Whoa, Nelly. Thar be décor in here. And by that we mean “décor” indiscriminately applied. Like, everything:
- Fish tanks (no fish, or water, just the 1980s-era water bubble games without water stuck in there with a bunch of ocean-themed ceramics and Troll dolls)
- Fake Hawaiian leis
- Plastic palm trees
- Large ceramic barnyard “floor animals” as we shall call them
- Plastic bread and vegetables
- A boat steering wheel and maybe an anchor
- Random stickers and decals stuck wherever
- Strands of silk autumn leaves
- Twirly stars
- “Wall fish” with bubbles coming out of their mouths that when you look closely at them you realize are happy face stickers
- What we think is a fake mounted deer head that looks suspiciously like it might break into song. You know, like those mounted fish annoyances from a couple years ago (mercifully, it doesn’t)
Mixed in with this are the extra ingredients stacked here and there on full display and in a corner under a TV stand, a bunch of dinnerware that does not seem to be in use and looks like someone’s grandmama’s. A few booths and tables fill the space that isn’t filled with other junk store detritus. The funny thing is, the parts all make up one crazy jumble of gaudyness that works as a whole in spite of itself.
Pretty cheap, depending on what you order. It’s hard to spend more than $25 for two people and entirely possible to walk out of there for less than $5. The Vietnamese sandwiches are about the size of a six-inch sub and cost about $2-4 each. Most entrees are in the $6-8 range.
OMG, the food looks amazing. They clearly put a lot of work into the presentation, cutting the carrots into little flowers and make sure everything is photo-perfect. It’s not just us. You’ll want to take pictures of your food, too. Really. Tweet us your pics if you do.
We’re a sucker for free stuff. Pho Vietnam starts with complimentary hot tea, and ends with a complimentary dessert. Just something simple like sliced bananas with sweetened condensed milk (maybe?) and peanuts on top, or some sort of tapioca or rice pudding dish. Not things that we’d probably order, but awfully nice to get for free.
There seems to be only two or three people who work there, so sometimes it takes a long time to get your food. This may be because they are busy making produce into priceless origami, but it can be irritating if you’re on a tight schedule. Plan for delays.
What to order:
It’s half the name of the restaurant and we’ve talked it up enough elsewhere, so suffice it to say the pho is great if you like pho. Honestly we get more excited about the other menu items. Everything we have tried has been fresh and delicious. The spring rolls (clear rice paper, not the fried kind) are yummalicious, especially paired with the extra plate of herbs they come with and the peanut sauce—with or without the Rooster Sauce for kick. The vermicelli dishes are good for people getting used to Vietnamese food. Lemongrass beef is a favorite. The Udon noodles with coconut milk sauce, meat and veggies are tasty and the Banh Mi sandwiches are as good as ones we’ve had in bigger towns like Austin. Vegetarians can find a whole mess of options here. Apparently the emphasis at Pho Vietnam is on French Vietnamese cuisine. We’d talk smart about that if we could, but all we know is it tastes great and we keep going back to this gas station for a fill-up.