Vietnamese cuisine, which hasn't been Americanized in the same way that much of Chinese food has, is generally free of heavy oils or homogeneous tastes. While still solidly comforting, it's often also perky and fresh, accented with buoyant lemongrass, cilantro and South Asian peppers. Gaining in popularity in recent years, pho (a soup of broth, noodles and thinly sliced meat) is one of the best things you can eat on a cold day, on a sick day, on a sad day, on a celebration day—or, hell, on a hot day or a sleepy day or an energetic day. The meat is raw when it's dropped into the hot broth, and actually cooks while in the soup. It's often spiced with seasonings you expect in sweet dishes—coriander, cinnamon and mint—giving it a light finish while remaining filling. Pho Ava's dishes don't disappoint with a steak pho ($10.50), salt and pepper stir-fry with nice and spicy fried shrimp ($14) and two massive spring rolls with a tasty peanut dipping sauce for $4.50—plus 79 other items that you order by the number. A creamy Thai tea and a floral lychee milkshake ($5 each) tack a sweet ending onto a satisfying comfort food journey.

Lunch and Dinner

2430 Cerrillos Road,