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Get gassed: Pho Bowl opens...inside a Conoco station!

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While Denver lays claim to dozens of pho joints, Pho Bowl is the first to reside in a Conoco station. Yes, that's correct: Inside the Conoco station at 3298 South Broadway, there sits a tiny cafeteria-like parlor of pho, just adjacent to where you can cash your paycheck, send a MoneyGram, buy a pack of smokes and stock up on toilet paper, Tums and condoms.

The service station, convenience store and pho den are all owned by Hanh Nguyen, who took over the station three years ago. She built a bona fide kitchen and opened a Subway, but closed it shortly thereafter. "There was already a Subway shop a mile or so away, so I closed it and starting thinking about what else I could do," she says. And that's when she started scoured the 'hood and realized that Vietnamese restaurants were few and far between. "I looked around and didn't see any Vietnamese restaurants around here -- at least no pho places -- so I thought maybe that was a good idea," says Nguyen, who opened Pho Bowl at the end of the December.

And the fluorescent-lit space, which seats around forty, has been doing well, with repeat customers, some of whom were slurping pho when I stopped in last week. "We can cash our checks here, get gas here and eat here," said one enthusiastic patron, who claimed he'd been in a half-dozen times to get his spring roll and pho fix. "It's true: We have a lot of customers who have been coming in on a regular basis," echoed Nguyen.

The menu is sparse, with just a few appetizers (egg rolls and spring rolls), a few noodle dishes and rice plates, and five manifestations of pho, all of which are served with a rather anemic platter of mung sprouts, Thai basil, rings of jalapeno and a wedge of lime. But at least they're fresh. And the steaming bowls of pho, while hardly epic, are nonetheless fortifying and amply stocked with rice noodles and meat -- rare steak, well-done flank, brisket, tendon, or meatballs -- which is more than you can say about anything else that passes for food at a Conoco station.

Pho Bowl is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am. to 7 p.m. Call 303-789-7693 for more info.

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