After living there for 3 months and flying back and forth for about a dozen times, these are my food recommendation in Ho Chi Minh City. They are delicious local cuisine that I have tried, and narrowed down to my favourite. It is also more than just Vietnam cuisines!
(Saigon) Ho Chi Minh City vs Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is the commercial capital of Vietnam. Like how New York City is the commercial capital of USA. Hanoi is the capital, like Washington to USA. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are quite different. But you can only tell the difference if you have been there long enough.
- from the way they speak Vietnamese (Hanoi is more “posh” and refined, whilst HCMC is more “rough”)
- food is slightly sweeter up in the north (Pho, the national noodle soup dish, is sweeter and has softer texture in noodles)
- there are more older buildings and cathedrals in the north and newer buildings in the south
Local Vietnamese Food
Vietnam is known for their coffee, pho and seafood. Here are some great places that I have tried and recommend to friends that are going to Vietnam.
Name: Mountain Retreat Vietnamese Restaurant
Eat: Vietnamese food
Address: 36 Lê Lợi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 10am-9.30pm
- It’s more touristy. It’s still Vietnamese food, but in a “western” setting. I love it though.
- Authentic delicious Vietnamese dishes served in a clean setting.
- Located in an apartment building, so it might be difficult to find.
- No lift, so you have to walk up the stairs!
- Ask for outside sitting (rooftop) and watch people pass below.
Also check out: Saigon in 24 Hours of Local Food
Name: Lẩu Dê Bàu Sen
Address: Quận 5, 132 Lê Hồng Phong, Phường 3, Quận 5, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 11am-10.30pm
Note: tried this place because I saw lots of locals sitting outside eating hotpot. Well, you can’t go wrong with locals. Turns out, it is some seriously good hotpot!
Name: Pho Hung
Address: 241-243 Nguyễn Trãi, Phường Nguyễn Cư Trinh, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Operating hours: 24/7
Note: delicious and not too expensive.
Name: Phở Hòa Pasteur
Address: 260C Pasteur, phường 8, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 6am-12am
Note: lots of locals (and my local friends) choose this as their favourite pho place!
Name: Flan Ngoc Nga
Eat: Vietnamese flan cake dessert
Address: 63 Đường 20, Phường 9, Quận 4, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 3.30pm-10.30pm
Note: small road side stall, lots of locals eating there. You can order takeaway or sit by the small little stools available.
Name: Quán Lẩu Nướng Thái Lan Số 07
Address: 31A/2, Hùng Vương, Phường 9, Quận 5, Phường 9, Quận 5, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: 24/7
Note: stumbled upon this place with a friend when we were lost.
- Do not order the eggs, as they are half-grown chicken and alive! You have to eat them like that. There’s lot of blood inside. It’s scary. (It’s balut in Philippines.)
- No English menu. Just point to whatever seems nice. We pointed to the first hotpot set we saw.
- sitting on the small stools by the roadside. Also, no tourists, only locals.
Name: Xu Restaurant and Lounge
Eat: Local Vietnamese food in fancy restaurant
Address: 71 – 75 Hai Bà Trưng, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 11.30am-11.30pm
Note: Great food, pricey price tags. Good for celebrations.
Name: Nha Hang Chay Bong Sung
Eat: regular vegetarian food
Address: 86 Nguyễn Du, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 7.30am-10pm
Note: Vegetarian. Tried this because my friend is vegetarian and had to eat at a vegetarian place.
Name: Secret Garden Restaurant
Address: 158 Pasteur, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 11am-10pm
Note: favourite place to find homemade authentic Vietnamese food.
- It is difficult to find the entrance, but ask around if you need help.
- You have to walk up a few flights of stairs
- Located on the rooftop of a residential building
Name: B.O.C homemade BBQ
Eat: Bbq dishes
Address: 43 Nguyễn Văn Giai, Đa Kao Ward, District 1, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 710359, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 5.30pm-11pm
Note: lots of locals come here to celebrate. Delicious bbq!
Name: Cơm Tấm Bụi Sài Gòn
Eat: Com Tam (broken rice) with bbq pork
Address: 100 Thạch Thị Thanh, Tân Định, Quận 1, Tân Định Quận 1 Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 8am-10pm
Note: Favourite food hands down. No one speaks English, so just point to the food. I like to add an egg with my dish.
Beer, Chill and People Watch
Vietnam is a chilled society. People are pretty laid back. It’s also insanely hot, so grab a cold beer and chill like they do in Vietnam. Because Ho Chi Minh City has lots of skyscrapers, be sure to chill on a nice rooftop bar! (This is my favourite rooftop bar, the M Gallery Hotel. )
Name: Crazy Buffalo
Address: 212 Đường Đề Thám, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: 24/7
Note: located at the beginning of Bui Vien street. Great for people watching, while you sit back with a cold beer on a hot day. Food sucks though.
Name: Winking Seal Beer Co.
Eat: craft beer & beers on tap
Address: 50 Đặ’ng Thị Nhu, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bìn, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 3pm-12am
Note: super chill and they have happy hour prices (5-7pm, 10-11pm). Also a roof for you to go and drink.
Name: Rogue Saigon
Eat: Craft beer and beer on tap
Address: (Floors 2+, 13 Pasteur, Phường Nguyễn Thái Bìn, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 4pm-12am
Note: Great rooftop on the top floor and they have some promotions on Thursdays
Name: Broma Not A Bar
Eat: cocktails on tiny rooftop bar with great view
Address: 41 Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 5.30pm-2am
Note: Great for a chill night and great view of Nguyen Hue (famous street).
Name: Saigon Outcast
Eat: Chill with beer
Address: No. 188/1, Nguyễn Văn Hưởng, Thảo Điền, Quận 2, Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 10am-11pm
Note: it’s in District 2, where the expats are. You find more western people there and less “typical Vietnamese”.
Name: Acoustic Bar
Eat: Beer after working hours
Address: 6E1 Hẻm 6 Ngô Thời Nhiệm, Phường 7, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 7.30am-11.30pm
Note: Stage for people to sing (open-mic) and it’s a super lovely atmosphere! Grab a beer and chill with your friends or just enjoy the moment with locals and expats alike.
Name: Belgo – Belgian Craft Beer Brewery
Eat: the place to get your Belgian beer fix
Address: 159A Đường Nguyễn Văn Thủ, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 10.30a-11pm
Note: Lots of Belgian beer choices! And you know that Belgium has the best beers in the world.
Vietnamese Coffee (A MUST)
If you have been to Vietnam and not have coffee, RETURN TO VIETNAM. Vietnam has great coffee. But personally, I find them too sweet and thick. These cafes are less sweet and more suitable for the foreign tastebuds. Also, DO NOT buy the 20,000 Dong coffee on the roadside. It’s bad chemicals inside. (A tip by a local to me.)
Name: Trung Nguyen Café Legend
Eat: coffee (starbucks of Vietnam)
Address: 219 Lý Tự Trọng, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 760000, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 6.30am-10pm
Note: I feel obliged to add this only because this is the Starbucks of Vietnam. I think there are better coffee in HCMC, but you should still check this out and tick it off your Vietnam bucket list.
Name: The Workshop Coffee
Address: 27 Ngô Đức Kế, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 8am-9pm
Note: great wifi, clean environment, good coffee. It’s a recipe for the perfect place to work! (Worked there too many times.)
Name: Shin Coffee
Eat: drip coffee
Address: 13 Nguyễn Thiệp, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 7.30am-11pm
Note: Good wifi, great coffee and nice cosy place to read or work.
Name: Loft Cafe
Eat: iced coffee milkshakes
Address: level 1, 26 Lý Tự Trọng, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 8am-10.30pm
Note: This is where you will find me on a rainy weekend. I like reading here and sipping iced coffee or milkshake. It’s quiet and not crowded, with a good view of the city.
Name: C.on Café
Address: 23B Ngô Thời Nhiệm, Phường 6, Quận 3, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 7am-12am
Note: Nice cosy café with lots of indoor plants. Visit Acoustic Bar just opposite after work hours!
Vietnam is more than just Vietnamese food. These are places to get good quality foreign products without spending a lot.
Name: Une Journée à Paris
Eat: Chocolate tart, that is all.
Address: 234 Lê Thánh Tôn, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: Mon-Sat, 7am-7.30pm
Note: BEST CHOCOLATE TART I HAVE EVER EATEN.
- I spent at least 3 months searching for quality cakes, and finally found this. After finding this, I have been there every day or every other day to eat the chocolate tart.
- Don’t even try the other cakes in Vietnam.
- Local of local French & Vietnamese-French who come here to eat
- Many local regulars
- The owner is friendly and nice
Name: The Reverie Saigon (6-star hotel)
Eat: Dessert buffet
Address: 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, Ben Nghe Ward, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 3pm-12am
Note: It’s the only 6-star hotel in Vietnam. I highly recommend the dessert buffet! It’s the only place with good decent cheese without spending a hole in your pocket.
Name: Hakataya Fukurou
Eat: Delicious ramen!
Address: 8a/c1 Thái Văn Lung, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 11.30am-3.30pm, 6pm-2am
Note: this is the Japanese quarter. Beautiful to just roam around the area after eating. Quality ramen.
Name: Voelker Bakery
Eat: QUALITY BREAD.
Address: 37 Đường Thảo Điền, Thảo Điền, Quận 2, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Operating hours: daily, 6am-8pm
Note: Good bread is impossible to find in Asia. Finally found this good fresh French bakery with quality bread!
Done with Ho Chi Minh city? Explore the Mekong Delta during the weekend!
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.