Believe it or not, some of the best restaurants in Arizona are actually not located in Scottsdale or Phoenix. Really! Matter of fact, some of Arizona’s smaller towns and cities are where you’ll find the hidden gems that don’t often make it into the major newspaper reviews or foodie magazines. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear about them through word of mouth or stumble upon them while searching for a place to eat on places like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Such is the case with Thuy’s Noodle Shop in Bisbee. I’d never heard of it, but a good friend wanted to meet there for a healthy lunch during a recent weekend trip. I certainly wasn’t expecting such outstanding Vietnamese food in such a small town.
The caveat here is that I’m not actually a Vietnamese food expert, so how do I know it was good? Well, it just tasted good, it was inexpensive, healthy, hot and fresh. Thuy makes every dish to order from scratch in the open kitchen directly behind the counter. Their specialty is authentic Saigon-style pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup made with five traditional spices. I ordered Cha Gio ($3.50), a hefty pork and shrimp spring roll, along with a bowl of Pho Chay ($7.50), a vegan noodle soup served with tofu in a vegetable broth made from daikon, chayote, jicama, mushroom and spices. It was delicious and filling, enough so that I needed to get a to-go bowl for my remaining soup (which I ate the next day for lunch).
Thuy’s also offers beef or chicken pho, curry bowls, and a variety of other creative specials for $10 each. These specials change daily, such as Ca Kho, a carmelized catfish with jasmine rice and vegetables, and Banh Xeo, a savory crepe made from eggs, fresh coconut milk and rice flour, with jicama, bean sprouts, carrots, pork and shrimp inside.
Although they offer American drink staples like sodas and water, you might want to try something from their unique drink menu, such as hot chrysanthemum or jasmine tea, fresh limeade, boba tea, fresh young coconut juice or Viet iced coffee with milk.
The shop is small and very homey – the prototypical “hole in the wall,” but not in a bad way; it’s just small and quirky, like so many things in Bisbee. Entering through the lime green screen door, you’ll notice seating is limited, with a few small tables and one longer family-style table where people from different groups and families may sit together either by choice or necessity. The shop smells wonderful, filled with the aroma of Vietnamese cooking spices. The staff is friendly and the service is good, but don’t expect your meal to arrive in a speedy fashion like you might in a chain restaurant. The wait is not unreasonable, but each dish is prepared from scratch so it takes a little longer, and it’s worth the wait.
Thuy’s is located in Old Bisbee, across from the Copper Queen Mine, at 9 Naco Road. They serve lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, and like any mom & pop type restaurant (especially in a small town), they’re subject to closure if the cook gets sick or some other unforeseen event prevents them from opening that day. If you’re making a special trip just to eat at Thuy’s, you may want to call ahead.
9 Naco Road, Bisbee, Arizona
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00am – 8:00pm
Phone: (520) 432-9169