Eats Beat: Saigon street food a hit at Pho District

08/28/2014 12:00 AM

08/27/2014 6:10 PM

Kenzo Tran always wanted a restaurant serving the Vietnamese food of his childhood.

But first, he had to build and launch the statewide Piranha Killer Sushi restaurants.

“I always knew someday I would do Vietnamese cuisine, but with more service and style,” he said last week.

The result: Pho District Vietnamese Street Food, a turnkey success next door to Chuy’s in the So7 Parkside shops on West Seventh Street.

“My Vietnamese friends who come here are shocked,” he said.

“They never dreamed people would appreciate braised ribs or a Chinese chorizo-rice pancake. But Vietnamese food is more than just pho and spring rolls.”

With Vietnamese now the third most spoken language in Texas, younger Texans had already shown an appetite for small family cafes like those in Haltom City or Grand Prairie.

But Pho District adds a bar, flashy appetizers and desserts such as rolled “ice cream sushi” or pandan-leaf creme brulee.

At times, the lines have been longer than for Chuy’s.

“We are selling more Saigon beer than Miller Lite,” Tran said.

“That shows Fort Worth is becoming a foodie town.”

Pho District is open for lunch and dinner daily at 2401 W. Seventh St., but really a half-block south on Museum Way; 817-882-9988, phodistrict.com.

Pancake parade

Sunday was an unusual day at Oldwest Cafe in Arlington.

The wait for lunch was only a half-hour.

The wait is often an hour or more at Oldwest’s other locations, so go early or on a weekday for the pancake platters.

And watch for the next Oldwest in Frisco, followed by (maybe) Roanoke.

The new location is open daily, breakfast and lunch only: 4650 Little Road between U.S. 287 and Interstate 20, 817-563-4764, oldwestcafe.us.

This week’s Eats Beat podcast covers breakfast at dfw.com/eatsbeat.

In a Mushroom haze

Also open: The most elaborate Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers ever, in the old city hall in downtown Mansfield.

The “steampunk” decor includes art, gadgets and an old city jail cell; open for lunch and dinner daily at 101 S. Main St. (sometimes listed at 100 E. Broad St.) on Business U.S. 287, 817-225-4321, mellowmushroom.com.

Old-school Tex-Mex

Updating last week’s reference to Mexican Inn Cafes:

The restaurant’s landmark No. 2 location on North Henderson Street opened in 1949, the Eighth Avenue location in 1948 as another Tex-Mex restaurant.

Right down the road

The brunch choice changes this weekend in Colleyville.

J.R.’s Steak & Grill premieres its brunch menu, days after nearby brunch hangout Mac’s Steaks closed for its move to Grapevine.

J.R.’s brunch menu by former Reata chef Todd Phillips has eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros and omelets, plus burgers, biscuits and peppered bacon; 5400 Texas 121, jrsteaks.com.

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