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Food & Drink

Last location of beloved San Francisco Vietnamese restaurant Turtle Tower shutters

a restaurant stands on a busy street corner.
The Turtle Tower at the northwest corner of Sixth and Bryant streets in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood has closed. | Source: Courtesy Google Street View

The sole surviving outpost of a beloved San Francisco Vietnamese mini-chain known for its pho has closed. 

The 23-year-old Turtle Tower, which at its peak ran at least four locations, shuttered its SoMa restaurant at 501 Sixth St. as of Nov. 19. The San Francisco Chronicle was the first to report the news.

The closure follows the September loss of the Turtle Tower on Larkin Street in the Little Saigon area of the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Other locations on Geary Boulevard in the Outer Richmond and inside San Francisco State University closed during the pandemic.

Eternally popular and with numerous five-star Yelp reviews, Turtle Tower was a famed exponent of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Named after a landmark in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, it first opened in San Francisco in 2000.

Chef-owner Steven Nghia Pham’s grandparents ran a restaurant in Vietnam in the 1940s, and he had long been committed to fresh produce and noodles, free-range chicken and beef sliced by hand. 

Both the last two locations of Turtle Tower were located near San Francisco courthouses, making them particularly popular among jurors and judicial employees.

This is a developing story.

Astrid Kane can be reached at astrid@sfstandard.com