Cha Pa’s May Have the Best Phở in Midtown

Cha Pa's Noodle and Grill

The question of ‘Who makes the best phở?’ is a hotly debated topic – NoVa versus Seattle versus NorCal versus SoCal – it’s a showdown with an impossible conclusion. But I doubt that I’d get too many dissenting opinions if I proclaimed New York’s pho joints to be generally mediocre, with even lousier options in Midtown Manhattan. But we should work with what we have. After multiple visits to the newly opened Cha Pa’s Noodles and Grill (on 52nd btw. 8+9th), I’ve found that the quality of the food and maturity of the service has markedly improved. And they serve, in my humble opinion, one of the best bowls of phở that I’ve tasted in Midtown.

cha pa's pho

Not only is it a very adept version of phở, but it’s relatively one of the better lunch deals in the area. For $7.95, you can choose from a small lunch menu of Vietnamese standards (phở included) and a side of chả giò (fried spring roll) or a side salad. The phở has all the hallmarks of a good version – slightly raw and pliant vermicelli noodles that soften up as the meal progresses and filament thin shavings of raw beef that are slowly cooked by the steaming hot broth. The broth is proficiently brewed, assertively beefy, appreciably onion-y, and lightly astringent from a steep in coriander, star anise, and cardamom and ginger.

cha pa's spring roll

The complimentary side of chả giò was also quite good – crackly crisp exterior and exceptionally juicy pork in the interior. And if a bowl of phở doesn’t completely fill you up, you could grab a side of shrimp chips ($1.50) or a fresh baguette ($1.50) and still remain under the $10 mark.

Proclaiming Cha Pa’s to have one of the best bowls of phở in Midtown is an assertive statement and I’d like to hear contrasting opinions – you know, for future research. This discussion is at least less volatile than the ongoing argument of how to actually pronounce the stuff.

ChaPa’s is Open for Lunch and Will be Serving Banh Mi


  • I went there for dinner and there wasn’t a vietnamese soul in there… hmm the food was really bla… the decor minimalist to the core, and the servers looked lost…

    i didn’t try the pho, but not running back there either… the only reason i went was cuz Totto Ramen was packed…

  • I had the beef pho last week, and it was delectable. For midtown (further) west dwellers, this is really appreciated, (and overdue) Other options include Cafe Duke – bland, Saigon 48, better but still bland, Boi Noodles, just bad. Every time a new Vietnamese places opens I eagerly anticipate a great bowl of pho, but with Cha Pa it has arrived.

    The broth is great, really flavorful. You will end up slurping it after you’re done the noodles and beef. Lots of beef, different cuts. Some with big seams of fat, others like slices of eye of round, very lean. Includes Sriacha for dipping the beef in, as well as chili paste for the broth, and of course hoisin. The noodles were as they should be, unlike the thicker ones from Cafe Duke. I got it to go, and the noodles and meat were packaged separate from the broth, so they don’t all get overcooked. A nice touch.

    The only downside, I like basil and sprouts in my Pho, this didn’t include. But, everything else makes up for it.

    I had the salad, which was a mix of shaved red and green cabbage with a light dressing. Nothing terrible, just not too exciting.

    If you’re wanting a good bowl of Pho, there are plenty of worse places around to try. This is best in the area.

    • They’ve always included basil and bean sprouts with my orders… maybe they forgot to give it to you? The service is a bit inexperienced, but they’re learning.

  • Another nice one Chris – keep em coming

  • Mmm sounds mouth watering!
    Will they deliver to 3rd Ave?
    Oh well, OBao for me I guess.

  • I do like me some Pho. Too bad it’s on the wessst side.

    Spring Roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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