We were in the mood for some Pho tonight and found a spot in Margate that looked promising. Atlantic Pho Vietnamese restaurant is located on Atlantic, just East of State Rd 7. We pulled into the strip mall and found parking to be easy. When we got out of the car, we could see that we would be the first ones there for dinner. Once inside the server got us to our table right away and left the menus. She got us some water, chopsticks and gave us some time to look over the menu.
Looking around, Atlantic Pho is a modest restaurant. There appeared to be a bar, but with only one stool tucked in the corner and all the shelves on the back wall were empty except for what looked like a DJ system. The tables were kind of plain, but not old looking. There was an odd sign over the entrance to the kitchen area that looked very home made. I guess just in case you needed to be reminded where you were dining. There was an odd odor inside that I couldn’t put my finger on. It wasn’t bad, just odd. Maybe it was a mixture of all the different types of food?
We decided on our meal and one of us ‘over ordered’ a bit (we will get to that soon). I picked the egg rolls for an appetizer and Jeff wanted to try a Banh Mi sandwich for an appetizer as well. We both wanted Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) so that was our main meal. Jeff ordered the Atlantic Pho Special with meat balls and a few different types of beef. The menu only showed one size, but the server asked “medium size bowl?” and of course Jeff said “no the large”. “Are you sure you want the large bowl?” She asked again. They went back and forth a few times, then Jeff finally asked just how large was the large. She made a gesture with her hands and it was hard to tell. He thought it looked too small, so he said “yes, I want the large”. I went for the medium chicken Pho.
The food started coming out one item at a time. First out were the egg rolls. Screaming hot from the fryer, each was cut in half and placed around so e cold rice noodles. There was also a hefty amount of greens (mint, Thai basil) on the plate as well as a side of dipping sauce. The sauce was a sweet and sour combo that paired well with the egg rolls. The egg rolls were filled with ground meat and had only one texture. These didn’t have any vegetables that you would expect to find in spring rolls.
Next out was the Banh Mi. We ordered the traditional version with pork. The sandwich is served on a fresh roll with a nice crunchy crust. The pork was almost like a formed pork roll of some sorts and had a nice flavor. The sandwich also had carrots, cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro. All were fresh and really gave depth to the sandwich. We enjoyed the veggies so much, we almost thought about getting just veggies if we were to order one again.
Now out came the Pho. Mine came out first and the medium bowl looked very big to me. Next, Jeff’s came out and this was the biggest bowl I’ve ever seen soup come in anywhere. It was basically a serving bowl you would find at Thanksgiving Dinner for a party of 10. It looked the sice of a bathroom sink basin. We tried to take pictures with the spoon to show perspective, but not sure if it worked. Trust me, this was not a single portion serving.
The chicken Pho was hot and full of soft rice noodles cooked perfectly. Thin sliced onions and scallions were fresh and the chicken pieces were big and tender. The broth was rich and you could taste the anise flavor. I don’t usually find Pho salty and this version stayed true. This medium size was pretty big and I could finish it all as I was stuffed. They also give you fresh add ins like bean sprouts, thai basil, jalapeño and some other green that we couldn’t identify. Jeff’s broth was a little more rich and darker in color. The beef was tender and while he asked for no tripe…we think they left some in.
All was going well until we were finishing. The server came out to refill our waters using a pitcher. The water she poured was light brown. We are hoping this was used for iced tea and someone didn’t rinse out the left over tea. There was no question is water was not clear. Needless to say, we didn’t drink any more of it (the water glasses were red, so you couldn’t see the color when she first brought it out.
Jeff took home 3/4 of his Pho and she was happy to box it up for us. Overall the service started slow, but picked up through the meal. The prices are reasonable, but I don’t think it’s the kind of place I’d want to dine in, maybe just take out. The water issue has us rethinking a revisit too.
Atlantic Pho is located at 5408 W Atlantic Blvd, Margate, FL