Googie Gourmet: Pho Restaurant is an A-Frame Landmark

Pho Nam
Pho Nam's glowing A-Frame can't help but be noticed by motorists. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Fans of cool Googie coffee shops have watched with dismay as many have disappeared. So it’s deeply gratifying to see some ghosts of the past continue life in new guises.

Pho Nam, a Vietnamese restaurant focusing on pho, is a visual landmark on a busy stretch of El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. Especially at night, when it glows from within, and with its rough stone siding artfully lit from below, it’s hard to pass by without admiring the place.

The food is good too, both the soups and rice plates, portions are generous, service quick and friendly. Not a place where you’ll linger long, perhaps, but for a fast bite it is ideal.

Lodge Coffee Shops suggested ski lodges. Courtesy of Heather David

And the open, beamed interior is as striking as the exterior.

Pho Nam is giving new life to what used to be a Lodge Coffee Shop, according to Heather David, a San Jose connoisseur of mid-century modern commercial architecture and author of ‘Mid-Century by the Bay.’

She didn’t have much history on the chain. We would love to hear from someone who does.

Meanwhile, next time you’re hungry in Sunnyvale and want to please your eyes as well as your belly, this place can be found at 844 West El Camino Real, not far from Mathilda Avenue.

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