On my recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City (“HCMC” or “Saigon”), my local friends recommended a few of their favorite restaurants (a combination of classics that we highlighted in previous posts and current hot spots). I was able to try a few and loved their recommendations. As many of my friends and colleagues continue to ask me where to eat in Saigon for their upcoming trips, I decided to share this list.
Address: 303-305 Võ Văn Tần, Phường, District 5 / Tel: +84. 3834.4486
This is an oldie, but a goodie with all the locals. When I had a craving for a good bowl of southern phở, my god sister (a Saigon native) and I ventured to Phở Lệ in District 3 (the second location is in District 7). The restaurant is your quintessential phở restaurant with a short menu of the famous noodle soup with a variety of meat toppings. The broth is rich, sweet (from the herbs and fruits) and robust, which can only be achieved from hours of cooking beef stock on a low boil. At 60,000đ to 75,0000đ or roughly $2.50 to $3.50 per bowl, this is a cheap eat at its best. Try to sit at a table near a fan or otherwise you will be sweating while eating a steaming hot bowl of phở.
Address: 288 Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa, District 8 /Tel: +84 28 3846 5866
For northern style phở, try this third generation phở shop that has been opened since the 1970’s. A bowl of phở ranges from 65,000đ to 80,000đ or $3 to $4. The biggest difference in the phở here is that there are no herbs or vegetable accompaniment. There is only a bowl of onion mixed with vinegar and sugar. This is something very different for most foreigners who are likely more familiar with the southern style phở topped with beansprouts, basil and hoisin sauce. This shop is open from 6am to 12pm.
Lẩu Cua Xuân Đức
Address: 208 Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, Phường 6, District 3 / Tel: +84 98 201 71 99
Hotpot is a popular type of cuisine for a gathering and another HCMC native took me to Lẩu Cua Xuân Đức to try their popular crab hot pot. The broth was meaty and flavorful and at 190,000đ or $8.50 for a large hotpot for four people, this hits all the right notes.
Cục Gạch Quán
Address: 10 Đặng Tất, Tân Định, District 1 / Tel: +84 28 3848 0144
We recommended this family style dining restaurant in 2016 and it is still just as good today. The restaurant is located in a house in alley decorated in 1970’s vintage style. The whole concept reminded me of going to an artsy relative for dinner. There is no menu to choose from as the restaurant serves a different meal set each day for a fix price of 200.000đ to 330.000đ or $9 to $13 per person.
Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa|
Address: 26 Lê Thị Riêng, Phường Phạm Ngũ Lão, District 1 / Tel: + +84 28 3925 0885
The famed bánh mì shop with a cult following with locals and tourists is arguable one of the best in HCMC. Locals pulled up in their motorbikes and jockey to place their orders. Like at most Vietnamese eateries, there is no real line so be ready to stand your ground. The bánh mì here is delicious and definitely worth all the hassle.
Address: 214/C84 Nguyễn Trãi St, Nguyễn Cư Trinh Ward, District 1 / Tel: + 84 90 943 70 33
This is another one of our favorite shellfish eateries in HCMC. Friends and family come here to enjoy fresh seafood and beer. This restaurant is insanely popular with locals, which is always a good sign. However, the restaurant can be disorienting for newbies. Luckily their menu contains pictures to make it easier to order. All the seafood are cooked over a charcoal grill or stove adding a depth of flavor. My favorite was the grilled clams sprinkled with peanuts and scallions and sea snails stir fried in a sweet and sour sauce. I was in seafood heaven and all for a super cheap price.
Quang Nuong 3T
Address: 29 – 31 Tôn Thất Thiệp, District 1 / Tel: +84 08 3821 1631
This is a rooftop Vietnamese barbeque restaurant located to the right side of Fanny Ice Cream and above the Temple Club. The entrance is hard to find and is also very popular. You can expect table-side bbq where you can grill various seafood and meat dishes on your own. The prices are very reasonable at 50,000đ to 165,000đ or $2 to $8 per dish.
Address: 57 Hồ Xuân Hương, District 3 / Tel: + 08 39 30 7665
This cozy restaurant specializes in Hue and central Vietnamese cuisine. The atmosphere is nicer than your typical restaurant, however, the prices are still reasonable at 50,000đ to 350,000đ or $2 to $15 per dish.
The Deck Saigon
Address: 38 Nguyễn Ư Dĩ, Thảo Điền, District 2 / Tel: + 84 28 3744 6632
This swanky Pan-Asian restaurant and bar is located on the banks of Saigon River. The prices are comparable to the US with entrée starting at $10+. This is a place to chill out and catch a sunset over the river. The food is good, but it is not the main attraction. The crowd varies between internationals and affluent locals.
Address: 8/15 Lê Thánh Tôn, Bến Nghé / Tel: +84 28 3622 0500
This Japanese take on Vietnamese pizza was launched in 2011 and has been popular ever since. The farm-to-table restaurant has five locations around HCMC. The prices and atmosphere are fancier and friendlier than the typical pizza parlor making it a favorite for locals and tourists craving western style food with Vietnamese flair.
The Crab Shack
Address: 54 Đông Du, Bến Nghé, District 1 / Tel: +84 28 3827 5168
This American-Cajun style seafood restaurant opened its door in 2014 in District 3 and now has three locations in HCMC.
Hủ Tiếu Cá Nam Lợi
Address: 43 Tôn Thất Đạm, Nguyễn Thái Bình, 1 / Tel +84 28 3821 0720
This restaurant specializes in fish noodle soup and is only opened from 6am to 12pm with at least a 15 minutes wait most of the time. The prices are more expensive than your local noodles shop at 82,000đ to 112,000đ or $4 to $5 per bowl.
Quán Cây Sứ Phong Cua
Address: 1019A Bình Quới, phường 28, Bình Thạnh / Tel: +84 28 3556 5683
This restaurant is all about crab, especially their curry crab and crab hot pot. Unfortunately, it is often crowded and takes a while for the kitchen to prepare your food. If you have the patience for it, you will be rewarded with an authentic affordable, by local standards, Vietnamese crab feast.
*Special thanks to Lana Tran, Han Vo and Tho Nguyen for these recommendations.
Author: Chau Hoang