In Colorado Springs, Vietnamese cuisine isn’t difficult to find. Restaurants like Saigon Café, Pho Brothers, and House of Saigon all offer wide selections of Vietnamese flavor. What is difficult, however, is knowing where to dine for the highest quality and most authentic taste.
On Academy Boulevard, just a short drive from campus, is a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Saigon Grill. Although it is a little less convenient than the short walk down Tejon Street to Saigon Café, the food at Saigon Grill is unquestionably worth the drive. Like many secret spots in Colorado Springs, this restaurant isn’t particularly eye-catching from the outside. But as you step inside and smell the blend of ginger, lemongrass, freshly cooked rice, and oyster sauce, the external aesthetic no longer matters. The interior is elegant, with wooden tables and chairs, natural lighting flowing through wide windows, and various decorations in and around the walls.
The restaurant is small, and the service is incredibly efficient, despite the extensive menu. Saigon Grill offers it all, from rice and noodle dishes, to curries, pho, and dumplings. The appetizer section of the menu offers an option for customers to roll their own spring rolls. You can choose from a selection of grilled shrimp, beef, chicken, or pork, which is served on a plate with vegetables, rice noodles, and rice paper. The restaurant is known for its modern interpretation of traditional Vietnamese dishes.
The dishes with rice are particularly flavorful. I ordered the stir fry beef noodle bowl, a delicious combination of sweet and sour sauce, crunchy onions, steamed bok choy, and carrot, tossed in clear rice noodles. The meal tasted fresh and filling, and I still came home with leftovers.
The menu is organized by rice, noodles, plates, and appetizers, offering many of the same bases with choice of beef, chicken, seafood, pork, or vegetarian. However, the meats are cooked and flavored differently, which changes each dish completely. Spices like lemongrass, ginger, mint, and chili are essential for Vietnamese flavor, and Saigon Grill locally sources all their spices. Most dishes cost about $10 and come in healthy portions, leaving customers either completely full or walking out with leftovers.
“[Pho Saigon Grill is a] homey, family-run business where everyone is welcomed,” Lille Haecker ’19 said. “[It has] some of the best Vietnamese food in the Springs because of their variety and excellent turn-out of food and service. You can go there and have a different food experience every time. Everything is great!”
The menu also offers several smoothie and tea options with boba, including a honeydew smoothie and a coconut smoothie, two difficult flavors to find elsewhere in Colorado Springs. They are blended with ice, and taste almost like milkshakes. People who enjoy sweetness will absolutely adore these drinks.
Vietnamese craving isn’t difficult to satisfy in Colorado Springs; it’s just about finding the best place with the most authentic taste.