A good pho, the iconic Vietnamese noodle soup, inspires devotion. Since I live in Boulder, my go-to spot is Pho Duy in Broomfield, a mom-and-pop shop with warm service and top-notch soup. But when Black Pepper Pho opened in Boulder, and owners Huong Dang and Chris John promised recipes from grandma in Vietnam, my hopes rose that I could have a pho spot right in my backyard.

The new shop has shown real potential in its side dishes (great banana tempura, refreshing cocktails, and fresh mint tea), but its main dish, the pho, features a broth that still needs some tweaking.

Bland one day, sweet the next, the soul of this soup lacks the consistent savoriness that makes pho so addictive. Condiments help—limes counter the sweetness and fish sauce gives it depth—but until Black Pepper brings more meatiness to the forefront, their pho won’t upstage Pho Duy.

Black Pepper Pho, 2770 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-440-1948

Pho Duy, 6600 W. 120th Ave., Broomfield, 303-438-7197