The Best Restaurants in Vietnam
The extraordinary tastes and flavors of Vietnam, found everywhere from the chaotic stalls of the night markets to the hushed dining rooms of luxury hotels, plucked from skewers and slurped from bowls, have a way of imparting an immediate connection to the country’s culture. Discover Vietnam by biting into a just-made spring roll, tasting fiery noodles, seeking the influence of French colonial cuisine in a sandwich bought on the street, or just contemplating the complex wonders of a humble country meal. You’ll remember all your first tastes here.
98 Nguyễn Huệ, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
One of the most beloved Vietnamese eateries in Saigon, SH Garden has lovely views of a pretty part of the city, but it has earned its following with dishes that celebrate the flavors of all the country’s regions, from north to south. Situated on the rooftop of an old colonial edifice at the intersection of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi streets, around the corner from the Opera House, it surveys a pretty part of the city with plenty of other colonial buildings nearby. Named for its owners Son and Ha, the restaurant doesn’t compete with the higher-price-point options in the city and instead serves good old mom-style cooking.
10 Đặng Tất, Tân Định, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Recalling Saigon’s past, Cuc Gach Quan offers fine Vietnamese fare in a cozy setting that re-creates the home of the owner’s grandmother—a French-colonial house with worn, wood-plank floors; retro furnishings; warm lighting; and a floating staircase to connect the two levels. It’s grown in popularity ever since Brad and Angelina ate here in 2011, but the menu continues to focus on Vietnamese dishes while following the approach summarized in its motto: “Eat green, live healthy.” Expect menu items such as fresh spring rolls with shrimp, crispy sea bass, and fantastic homemade tofu fried with chili and lemongrass.
32 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
Though vegetarian restaurants aren’t uncommon in Vietnam, they aren’t always easy to track down, and many vegetarian and vegan visitors end up settling for nonmeat options at normal eateries. (A traveler tip: The word chay means “meatless” or “vegetarian.”) Hum Vegetarian Café & Restaurant is a reliably satisfying, MSG-free spot that prides itself on its eco-friendly practices and alluring flavors. Its inviting interiors include a tiled floor and hanging potted plants that create a calm, relaxed ambience. Warm, knowledgeable staff members serve dishes that regularly lure carnivores who are open to the principles of conscious consumption—at least for one meal.
39 Đ. Trần Ngọc Diện, Thảo Điền, Quận 2, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 70000, Vietnam
Housed inside a District Two whitewashed colonial villa with a pool out back just a few hundred feet from the Saigon River, 3G Trois Gourmands prepares fine French cuisine. The menu is largely old-school classic French, with dishes like venison fillet and lobster with butter sauce, and pages devoted to desserts and ice creams. The country-style decor includes plenty of flowers and basic wooden shelves stocked with bottles of wine. There’s also a bar situated under a conservatory-style glass roof. The selection of cheeses, many of them made in-house, is impressive.
8/15 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
A Japanese man making Neapolitan pizza in Vietnam’s business hub might seem like an unlikely scenario, but it perfectly describes Pizza 4P’s. The restaurant now has multiple outlets, including one in Hanoi, but the original spot discreetly tucked away in an alley just off Le Thanh Ton Street is still the most atmospheric. The name is a nod to the owner’s wish in life—for peace—and informs his drive to deliver a pleasurable experience to diners. The pies, as popular with tourists as they are with Saigon residents and the Japanese expat wives who frequent the place on weekday afternoons, are ideal: charred, chewy, pliable crusts; tart tomato sauce; and creamy, homemade mozzarella, crafted by hand outside the city of Da Lat (for an unforgettable meal, order a pizza topped with a whole, unsliced burrata).
Chợ, Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Started by a food writer and a food photographer who regularly took their friends to their favorite eateries, Street Foodies Saigon now shepherds groups on walking tours of those same spots. It’s a great way to get a handle on the delights of roadside dining in Ho Chi Minh City, though the organizers are adamant about avoiding the typical tourist fare—hence, neither pho (the Vietnamese noodle soup) nor banh mi (a baguette sandwich that’s a street-food staple) are sampled. Customers will get to try con ngheu hap sa (clams steamed in lemongrass broth), bot chien (fried rice cakes with egg and grated papaya), and kem xoi dua (sliced coconut, peanuts, sticky rice, and coconut ice cream served in a young-coconut shell), with vegetarian options available.
136 Lê Thánh Tôn, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
In an alley off Le Thanh Ton not far from Ben Thanh Market, this no-fuss, homestyle-cooking joint is a huge hit with locals as well as expats living in Saigon. The evocative decor on the two floors includes murals of Vietnamese street scenes and even a full tuk-tuk-style food truck used as a counter, while the upstairs feels more like a home. The restaurant, which promotes itself as “Mama’s kitchen with a twist” and uses clay pots, bamboo baskets, and coconut shells to serve some dishes, offers items such as peppercorn pork and sour-fish soup on its wide-ranging menu.
17 Tràng Tiền, Hoàn Kiếm4g54, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Close to the Opera House and the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, Club Opera Novel is in a former private residence with high ceilings, a handsomely stocked bar, and pretty, stained-wood front doors. The restaurant presents modern Vietnamese food in a space that evokes the heyday of French-colonial rule. Staff members exude the formality one would expect given the surroundings and decor, and are quietly polished and professional; the ambience is suited to customers who come here for special occasions as well as those visiting from out of town. The menu combines seasonings like lemongrass, chili, and orange with ingredients like beef, prawns, and duck, while the wine list leans heavily toward French options.
15 P. Chân Cầm, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
La Verticale, run by Didier Corlou, a Frenchman who is a well-known figure in the local dining scene, is a feast for the senses. Corlou creates what he describes as contemporary-Indochinese cuisine—but which could also be described as Vietnamese-accented French fare. Presentation is a key part of the experience here: Jars of spices displayed on high wooden shelves give the space the feeling of an old apothecary, while the dark-leather banquettes and framed mirrors on the walls provide a sophisticated touch. Dishes are artfully plated—sometimes on china, sometimes on slate—showcasing the food to wonderful effect. Menus are seasonal, but typically include a section labeled “Ha Long to Nha Trang” that makes the most of the country’s marine bounty, with ingredients like red tuna, lobster, and mackerel.
45 Nguyễn Phúc Chu, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Part of a family of three restaurants, Mango Mango has a prime location in Hoi An, on the Thu Bon River close to the Japanese Covered Bridge. Its bright interior—sunny walls; high, wood-beamed ceilings; a colorful replica fishing boat that doubles as a countertop—sets the stage for the modern Asian food. While many of the dishes have witty, pun-inspired names, like Lust in Translation (tuna rolls with seaweed) or Chasing the Chick (grilled chicken breast with house-made Asian pesto), the combinations of spice and texture are spot-on. In addition to the chow, expect delicious cocktails, Pasteur Street brews, and live music.
119 Trần Cao Vân, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
The fine contemporary-Asian cuisine at the Sea Shell, a sister restaurant to Nu Eatery (also in Hoi An), has been a hit ever since it opened in 2015. Set in a lovingly restored fisherman’s home on An Bang Beach, north of the main part of the town, the building has a soothing sky-blue exterior, hefty wooden tables, eclectically mismatched chairs and benches, potted plants, both indoor and alfresco garden dining, and a relaxed, homey atmosphere. The simple menu includes tempura prawn rolls, a handful of salads and soups, and entrées like the signature banh mi. The desserts are not to be missed.
115 Trần Cao Vân, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
The flavors and textures of a banh mi—crispy, chewy, spicy, sweet, tangy with ingredients of mayonnaise, pâté, pork (or sometimes chicken or tofu), pickled vegetables, cilantro, and chili, all piled into a crusty baguette—help to explain the allure of this iconic Vietnamese sandwich, and why it’s been successfully replicated at restaurants around the world, from New York to Sydney. Hoi An has many fine banh mi sellers, but among the top two are undoubtedly the holes-in-the-wall Madam Khanh (or Madam Queen) on Tran Cao Van Street and the always-busy Banh Mi Phuong on Phan Chu Trinh, popularized by Anthony Bourdain in his program No Reservations.
13 Bạc Xỉu
While pho bo might be the king of Hanoian street food and bun cha the cult hero, for less carnivorous types this simple yet vastly popular hit is one of the city’s unsung favorites. For the uninitiated, the popularity of the dish might be slightly surprising. Its components include fried tofu, vermicelli noodles, a few herbs and—most contentiously—mam tom dipping sauce, a stinky purple paste made from fermented shrimp. The various strands are combined to make a lunchtime dish that is particularly popular for its relative lightness.
13 Lò Đúc, Ngô Thì Nhậm, Hai Bà Trưng, Hà Nội, Vietnam
You’ll need some sustenance for a busy day, so after observing the early morning action at Hoan Kiem Lake, head to nearby Pho Thin for a warming bowl of Vietnam’s de facto national dish. Hanoians like their beef noodle soup fairly austere and unsullied, but this venue is known for stir-frying its tender strips of beef in garlic before adding the meat to the broth.
12-14 Hàng Gà, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
This is a reliable place to sample one of Hanoi‘s indigenous classics: banh cuon, or steamed rice rolls stuffed with minced pork and chopped wood-ear mushrooms. Less a restaurant, more a hole-in-the-wall with a few tables and chairs strewn around, this venue makes up for its lack of sophistication with giant-sized portions of the delicate rolls.
15 Chân Cầm, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Inspired by the cooking of his wife’s grandmother, Madame Hien is chef Didier Corlou’s attempt at upscale but unfussy Vietnamese cuisine. Set in the former Spanish embassy, it is a beautiful spot for both lunch and dinner, with the outside courtyard in particular providing refuge from Hanoi‘s busy streets. Dishes, meanwhile, run the gamut from traditional classics to Corlou’s “New Hanoi” creations, adding exotic twists to familiar French and Vietnamese staples.
4 Trung Hòa, Trung Hoà, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Pho Ga (chicken pho) is traditional to northern Vietnam and is served all day. The best time to get it from a local vendor is early in the morning because it’s SO fresh and makes for a perfect breakfast. As a side note about this photo, I love spicy food so I thought that this was the perfect amount of chili peppers. As they warmed up however they spread a layer of hot chili oil over the soup making it very very spicy. While the colors make for a pretty picture, I had a stomach ache later. Stick to about 3 slices and then see how it tastes in 10 min.
248 Đường Trần Phú, Phước Ninh, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam
Long recognised as one of the best restaurants in Danang, Red Sky continues to set high standards. The menu at the upstairs venue features western dishes such as seared tuna, succulent steaks and a range of delicious pasta favourites. The downstairs bar is also a fine place for a perfectly mixed nightcap.