It's a bittersweet goodbye for pho aficionados in San Francisco as Turtle Tower, the beloved Vietnamese noodle soup restaurant, ladles out its final bowl. The last standing location in SoMa shut its doors for good on November 19, according to owner Steven Nghia Pham in a sorrow-fueled reveal to the San Francisco Chronicle, citing the increasing difficulty of doing business in the city as the reason for the closure.
In a twist that left San Francisco's food scene reeling in June; Tablehopper had already reported a worrying sign, the Larkin Street location's building hit the market, which followed a troubling daylight robbery in May 2020—it was a man who snatched cash from the tip jar and the register—in a candid discussion back then, Turtle Tower proprietor Thao Pham confessed to SFGATE, "This happens to me every other week," expressing the pervasive concern over safety and crime in the district.
Despite the unfortunate events, there were few hints that the end was near for the SoMa location when the Tenderloin outlet closed its doors. Known for its distinctive northern-style pho since its inception in January 2000, Turtle Tower has warmed the stomachs and hearts of locals with its pho ga, featuring organic, free-range chicken in a fragrant broth with fresh, daily-made noodles made from scratch.
The cherished eatery once boasted four bustling branches—including outposts in the Outer Richmond and at San Francisco State University—however, the culinary empire had slowly been eroding down, to this last vestige of Vietnamese tradition. Pham hinted to SF Eater there's a glimmer of hope, possibly partnering for a new Turtle Tower location in the future, but for now, he's setting his sights on a well-deserved hiatus.