Pho King Rapidos food truck opening two Denver brick-and-mortar spots

Pho King Rapidos’ food truck might be slowing to a stop, but owners Long Nguyen and Shauna Seaman are on the move.

The popular Denver food truck, which introduced its menu — Vietnamese food heavily spiced with other ethnic and geographic influences — in 2020, is getting ready to open its first brick-and-mortar space in Avanti Denver, located at 3200 N. Pecos St., on May 9, and a second in Park Hill this summer. Nguyen said the food truck will pause service at the end of April, and they have no immediate plans to bring it back yet.

“Avanti gives you an opportunity to test your food in a restaurant setting, and you don’t have to set it up top to bottom like a food truck,” Nguyen said. “It also gives you the opportunity to be exposed to a lot more guests, who maybe didn’t want to travel to our brewery spots in the past and now have a central location.”

Pho King Rapidos will take over Meta Asian Kitchen’s previous space on the first floor of Avanti. Meta is now at Honor Farm, the haunted-themed bar downtown, and is opening its own space on South Broadway in the fall. To celebrate the “changing of the guards” Meta is featuring Pho King Rapidos as a special pop-up guest at its launch party at Honor Farm on April 29.

Although Pho King Rapidos’ new space isn’t much bigger than its food truck, Nguyen said he’s excited to play with the menu a bit and make some more small bites and noodle dishes, which were hard to execute on the food truck.

The vanti space will serve longtime favorites like the pho banh mi, a Vietnamese take on a French dip that you dip in pho; and “chicken over rice,” which is lemongrass-marinated chicken thighs over chicken-broth rice with “New York City chicken-cart white sauce” and mustard greens. New additions include a tomato over noodles dish and a pork belly BLT.

Pho King Rapidos joins 22 Provisions, Amá Modern Mexican, Bowls by KO, Gorlami Pizza, Knockabout Burgers and Quiero Arepas in Avanti and will be open during the week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until 11 p.m. on the weekends.

“We feel really lucky to have this opportunity and want to make the most of it,” Nguyen said. “Running a food truck has definitely been tough. No part of the process has been easy in any sense. If you can run a food truck and run it well, then you’ll probably be up for any challenge. It’s the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.”

Not long after Pho King Rapidos’ Avanti location makes its debut, Nguyen and Seaman plan to open a second location at 2878 Fairfax St. in Denver’s Park Hill, although it won’t be your typical restaurant setup. Pho King Rapidos will share the space with Yuan Wonton, known for its chili-garlic wontons and homemade dumplings, and Sweets & Sourdough, a delivery-only artisan bakery. Each will operate on set days, which haven’t yet been determined, Nguyen said.

“We do a lot of prep-heavy items because we want to make food well from scratch if we can. So for two businesses also doing that — with a huge following and really good food — to approach us and ask to partner up on something very different and interesting, it was just another way to push the limit,” Nguyen said.

In the Park Hill spot, which could open in early summer, Pho King Rapidos will operate under the name Thùy by PKR. Since this will be a larger, 2,100-square-foot space, Nguyen said he wants to offer more family-style Vietnamese meals, reminiscent of what he ate growing up.

“For dinner, we want to do fun experiments, like sharing a 16 oz. steak,” Nguyen said. “My mom raised us on family-style meals. She would make a big bowl of greens, another bowl of braised meat, another with soup and a big pot of rice, and we’d just pass food around as a family every night.

“This felt like a great way to do that, and meanwhile we can continue to run the food truck menu at Avanti,” he added.

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