Cafe Cali & Pho
74 N. Cleveland
I noticed this place the other day, but I am not sure when it opened. (I think it may have been around the corner initially.) I added it to my list of places to eat since Vietnamese is in regular rotation. We went to give it a try on Sunday evening.
The parking lot was packed, but the restaurant was not. It seemed that the space between the restaurant and the market was having some sort of private dance party. We could hear the music through the walls.
Inside, there was another table or two of people eating, all of whom appeared to be Vietnamese, which is a good sign. The flat screen TV on the wall was showing a Vietnamese cooking show. The space was well-lit and clean. We were seated and given menus right away.
A waiter, who looked kind of like an aging movie star to me, came over with three waters and a notepad. I aksed if we could have another water since there was four of us and Satchel (age 12) nearly died. "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!" he moaned under his breath.
The movie star waiter (MSW) obliged me and then I tried to charm him since I had been so (unintentionally) off putting. I asked if he had any suggestions for us, and what he suggested were among the items we had taken note of, so we went ahead and put in our order.
An elderly man brought out the spring rolls almost right away. They definitely looked different than what I am used to, and frankly I was a tad nervous about eating them. But Jiro, who was super hungry, asked if he could try one and then proceeded to tell us how yummy they were.
They did actually taste quite good. Jiro (age 10) asked if we could get a second round of "Asian burritos."
I probably would have but the rest of our food started coming out.
Jiro was happy with his chicken vermicelli soup. The face was because I made him wait to start eating it. (I was very proud of him for not letting the "green stuff" get in the way of his enjoyment.)
Satchel ordered a similar soup but with beef.
Note those are the "small" bowls.
Warren got his standard noodle bowl with pork and egg rolls. It also featured the scary looking pork from the spring rolls.
There was a lot of happy slurping at the table.
I ordered the bhan mi, which was very good. The bread was nice and warm and I ate it right up. I think it may have had mayo on it, which is different.
I finished my sandwich pretty quickly as it was on the small side. Warren let me work on his noodle bowl while he worked on Jiro's chicken soup.
Then I went over to investigate what we thought were drinks in the cooler.
MSW informed me that they were actually desserts. I wanted to try one, but no one else did. Instead i decided to try the pure cane juice that the MSW said is really good for you. "Look on YouTube," he said.
It was quite good and not at all as sweet as I was expecting.
All in all, we liked the food and service and price, but I don't think it will become our #1.
My good friend, who is Thai, went and had the Bún bò Huế, which apparently was super legit with congealed blood and everything. So, if you want authentic, this may be the place for you.
Our total was $31 plus tip.
Check it out.