Try Excellent Vietnamese Cuisine Made by the New Owners of Margate's Atlantic Pho

This pho recipe is straight from Vietnam.
This pho recipe is straight from Vietnam.
Atlantic Pho

Looking for a new Vietnamese spot to grab a piping-hot bowl of pho or those spring rolls you find yourself always craving? Well, you might want to take a look back at a place you might have already visited in the past.

Atlantic Pho, located in Margate, recently changed ownership, and the new proprietors have rapidly grown a stable of loyal customers. In large part, that's thanks to a remodeled restaurant, a revamped menu, and a husband-and-wife ownership team, Andy Tran and Cindy Diep, that has family back in Vietnam who have been running restaurants for over 40 years.

"To this day, my family runs a restaurant in Da Nang, Vietnam, that is serving the exact dishes we're cooking here," says Tran." What we serve at Atlantic Pho is a close variation of what you could expect to find over 10,000 miles away." 

If you've been to Atlantic Pho in the past, the changes made to the restaurant will be noticeable from the moment you walk through the door. It's those alterations, Tran and  Diep say, that made their restaurant a home. The restaurant has a fresh, friendly look that meshes a Mom-and-Pop appearance with that of a trendy bistro.

Andy Tran and Cindy Diep offer home-style fare in a cozy atmosphere.
Andy Tran and Cindy Diep offer home-style fare in a cozy atmosphere.
Ryan Yousefi

The aesthetics are great, but that's not the story here; obviously, it's the food. Trust us: The food is the attention grabber here. 

Atlantic Pho hits everything you would expect from a traditional Vietnamese restaurant, but here, it's being done with a real attention to detail that is noticeable in the final product. The Pho Dac Biet ($8.95, $9.95), made with a beef broth base and filled with noodles and a combination of all-eye round, flank, brisket, tendon, and meatballs, is a house specialty. The recipe has been in chef Tran's family for generations, and you can really taste the difference.

"Our hope is that our customers always know they can get authentic Vietnamese food here. These recipes aren't some clone, hybrid, or fusion — they are original, just like you would find in my family's restaurant in Vietnam," Diep says. 

While Tran is cooking up family favorites, his wife is serving this common yet complex specialty in the front of the house to a quickly growing base of customers that are rapidly visiting to check out Atlantic Pho's new look. Many family restaurants in Vietnam are right inside the families' homes. Diep says Atlantic Pho's decor is meant to mimic that tradition.

"My husband has the authentic Vietnamese recipes, and I take care of the authentic Vietnamese hospitality," says Diep. "My home is your home, and I want customers to feel that way when they come to eat at Atlantic Pho."  

A great bowl of Pho starts with a flavorful broth, and Atlantic Pho knocks it out of the park in this aspect. The broth is beefy yet not too overpowering, adding just the perfect flavor to the nest of rice noodles that awaits you. No matter what combination of meats you choose (they offer chicken and seafood as well), Atlantic Pho's house broth sets it apart from the rest of the pack: sweet and savory, with just the right spices. 

These might just be the best spring rolls in South Florida.
These might just be the best spring rolls in South Florida.
Atlantic Pho

As New Times sat and discussed Atlantic Pho's menu upgrades and improvements with the new owners, people all around could be heard ordering another Vietnamese favorite: shrimp and pork spring rolls. In and of itself, a spring roll is a simple dish, but Atlantic Pho has found a way to make the simple appetizer one of the most addictive items on the menu. The spring rolls ($3.95 for two) include shrimp and pork sliced thin, layered with rice noodles and veggies all nestled in a springy rice paper sleeping bag. That part is great, but the peanut sauce that comes for dipping is what keeps you thinking about this dish later in the day. Not too thick and not too thin, this sauce pairs perfectly with the simplicity of the traditional spring roll. 

It's this sort of attentiveness mixed with simplicity that makes Vietnamese cuisine so appealing to many. The intricate and flavorful cuisine is steeped in complex colonial history and elaborate technique, but for many South Floridians, it has only recently come into culinary consciousness. In the past decade or so, going out for a bowl of pho or a banh mi has become nearly as commonplace as grabbing a slice of pizza or a sub.

"If you've never tried Vietnamese food, we'd like to be your first experience. If you have, we'd like to become your favorite. Either way, we'd like to share with you food from our family's heart in hopes you love it as much as we have for a very long time," chef Tran says. 

Atlantic Pho's new changes, friendly waitstaff, and renovations have turned it from just another small restaurant located inside a sleepy shopping plaza into that secret go-to place you paradoxically want everyone to know about but keep to yourself in fear that you won't be able to find a table one day.

Well, I guess the secret is out now. 

Atlantic Pho is located at 5408 W Atlantic Blvd in Margate. Call 954-400-5048, or visit  atlanticphovietnameserestaurant.blogspot.in.


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