In times of economic trouble, people tend to gravitate to comfort food. Vietnamese cuisine is all about comfort, from flavorful soups to big plates of stir-fried noodles, much of it without the depressing heft of Western home cooking. Here's a list of some of the Bay area's destination spots for comfort food with a Southeast Asian twist. Of lime, usually.
516 N. Tampa St., Tampa, 813-223-7320 or bamboozlecafe.com. This downtown Tampa quick-serve spot specializes in noodle dishes and fresh-made spring rolls stuffed with your choices of veg and meat.
Ha Long Bay
5944 34th St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-522-9988. Hit Ha Long for lunch and you'll find classic Chinese dim sum dishes. After that, though, the restaurant's natural inclination to well-balanced Vietnamese dishes comes to the fore.
1912 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, 813-254-3757. This well-loved Vietnamese joint used to be on Gandy, but has recently moved to Dale Mabry. Expect more of the same slightly upscaled classics.
1633 W. Snow Ave., Tampa, 813-258-1916 or restaurantbt.com. BT Nguyen-Batley's menu is more pan-Asian, but her culinary foundations are strictly in Vietnam. Expect to find updated and modernized versions of your classic dishes.
Pho An Hoa
3828 49th St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-522-8380. Typical but tasty classics.
2740 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, 813-632-3444, 4505 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park, 727-545-5678. Pho Quyen is know for inexpensive standards that don't sacrifice quality for savings. The pho is the star here, even more than at other Viet joints.
Saigon Bay Vietnamese
2373 E. Fowler Ave, Tampa, 813-971-0854. This long-standing Tampa Vietnamese destination has the core values of inexpensive and flavorful soups and delicate noodle dishes down pat.
1524 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, 813-979-1464. Known far and wide as a vegetarian hang-out, you can still find rich beef pho and other carnivorous dishes.