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Inside cocktail bar Summer Experiment.
Summer Experiment

The 31 Essential Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Anthony Bourdain’s favorite banh mi cart, fancy wagyu truffle pho, and more of the best things to eat in HCMC

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Inside cocktail bar Summer Experiment.
| Summer Experiment

Ho Chi Minh City straddles the line between the past and the future, a place where rooftop bars and skyscrapers tower over wet markets and banh mi carts. The city, also known as Saigon, is home to more than 9 million residents, including huge international communities. For much of the outside world, the image of Vietnam is still connected to the war, but for many residents — whose average age is 32 — the country and its commercial capital, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), have moved beyond their fractious past to become one of the fastest developing nations in the region. Since 2000, Vietnam’s GDP has grown on average 6.2 percent per year, faster than any other Asian country apart from China. This has put more disposable income in the pockets of an expanding middle class, who look for ways to spend their money on food, drink, and entertainment at all hours.

You can start your morning with a $1 Vietnamese sandwich from the local street cart lady, dine on a $20 prix fixe French lunch set, and then hit a cocktail bar for sunset happy hour with drinks made from local craft spirits. Then it’s off to some barbecued seafood by the canal with buckets of ice-cold Saigon Beer, and — if you’ve got energy to burn — you can finish the night singing your heart out in a private karaoke room until the wee hours of the morning, before piling into a rideshare as the sun rises along the Saigon River.

Linh Phan is the founder of Hidden Saigon, a consulting company that provides insider insights for those seeking to understand and experience modern-day Vietnamese culture.

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Le Café des Stagiaires

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There’s nothing like a rooftop bar with a clear view of the city, especially during a sunset happy hour with friends, drinks in hand, and chill beats from a DJ. Established in 2011 in Shanghai, Le Café des Stagiaires has since opened locations in Bangkok (2015) and Ho Chi Minh City (2020). The concept is straightforward: Create a neighborhood gastrobar with simple yet tasty food and drinks where European cafe culture is the center of social gatherings. Try one of the signature drinks, such as the Coriander Mule or sangria, or create your own gin and tonic.

Customers seated at tables and adirondack chairs with an amazing view of the city skyline.
The rooftop at Le Café des Stagiaires.
Le Café des Stagiaires

Xôi Lá Chuối

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If you’re looking for a light, delicious snack, head over to Xôi Lá Chuối for some sweet or savory sticky rice. Unlike competitors, this stall wraps sticky rice in banana leaves, sealing in the flavors. Go for the savory mixed sticky rice option with sweet soy-marinated shredded chicken, which also includes smoky Chinese sausage, Vietnamese sausage, and shredded pork topped with scallion oil and peanuts.

A cook grabs ingredients from prep trays to put together a packet of sticky rice in a banana leaf.
Sticky rice coming up.
Linh Phan

Cục Gạch Quán

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For great traditional family-style Vietnamese food in a beautiful setting, look no further than mainstay Cục Gạch Quán. Opened by architect Trần Bình in a French Colonial house with vintage tiles and crafted antique furniture, it was dubbed the “architect’s house” by the HCMC creative community who frequented it in its early days. In 2011, it gained notoriety when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt dined there, and it has since become a staple for locals and visitors. Throwback Saigonese music plays from a reel-to-reel as diners tuck into items like braised pork belly in coconut water, stir-fried garlic zucchini flower, fried egg and tofu with lemongrass and chile, pomelo salad, and tamarind sour soup.

A long table in a wood-lined A-frame space, with a golden buddha statue sitting on a display at the far end.
The dining room at Cục Gạch Quán.
Cục Gạch Quán

Å by Tung

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Å by Tung’s Nordic architecture immediately stands out from the neighboring Vietnamese shophouses in the trendy Dakao Ward. The restaurant is a tribute to Northern Europe, where chef Hoang Tung developed his passion for fine dining. A meal here is an immersive experience, from the minimalist interior to the 19-course tasting menu, which changes every three months. Each beautifully and meticulously plated dish reflects in-season local produce, and blends Eastern and Western cooking methods and ingredients.

A moody blue interior with constellation-like light fixtures and a large stalactite-like instillation above the stairwell.
Ambiance at Å by Tung.
Å by Tung

Though it opened only in 2016, this neighborhood bar is one of the staples in the trendy Phạm Viết Chánh area. It’s also tiny, seating approximately 10 people inside, and good luck trying to find a chair on the street-side patio. In the early days, it was frequented by local creatives, but it has since grown in popularity, attracting all sorts of characters. You never know what kind of new friend you may make over a glass of whiskey.

Customers sit at outdoor tables outside an open bar front beneath a branded awning.
The coveted patio seating.
Morgan Ommer

Luu Bar

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Luu Bar is the perfect encapsulation of the trendy Phạm Viết Chánh neighborhood, and it’s the perfect place if you’re looking for a chilled-out, party vibe. It offers craft beers, fancy cocktails, and Champagne, and DJs are on hand to get your feet moving. Feeling a bit peckish late at night? Grab a slice of pizza from Oliver’s Restaurant nearby, which Luu Bar owners William Szabo and Du Minh-Duc Laurent recently took over.

A cocktail with the name Luu stenciled on foam.
A branded cocktail at Luu Bar.
Luu Bar

Cháo Ếch Singapore Tân Định

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Hit this spot in the Tan Dinh Market after 7 p.m. for steaming Singaporean-style frog congee. Just squat down on a plastic seat, shout out “em ơi” (hey you), and place your order. Like many places in town that focus on one item, Tân Đinh has perfected its recipe for frog stew, producing bubbling, spicy yet sweet bowls alongside plain congee. Order some steamed winged beans to add to the mix, and watch as the cooks perform a balancing act, fitting as many clay pots of braised frog meat on the grill as the hot coals can hold.

Small iron pots bubbling with dark broth on a grate set above a coal fire.
Pots of frog congee on the fire.
Linh Phan

Noir Dining in the Dark

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Noir Dining in the Dark was founded in 2014 by Vũ Anh Tú and Germ Doornbos as a social enterprise to support the Vietnamese visually impaired community with stable employment. Guests dine in the dark, challenging their taste buds to identify ingredients without sight; this type of restaurant appears in a number of cities and can seem a bit gimmicky, but here the execution is on point. There are several carefully curated set menus to choose from, including a vegetarian option, and everything is prepared using the finest local and organic ingredients.

A hand runs over Braille lettering on a menu in a darkened room.
The menu.
Noir Dining in the Dark

Là Việt Coffee

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Là Việt Coffee is one of the key players in the modern coffee scene. Moving away from the robusta beans traditionally found around town, husband-and-wife founders Trần Nhật Quang and Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc opted to focus on arabica beans grown, harvested, and roasted at their farm in Da Lat. Their experimentation has resulted in some truly unique coffee drinks, such as the specialty margarita coffee mocktail made with lime, sugar syrup, and cold brew, complete with salt rim. The couple is always pushing the boundaries of Vietnamese coffee while respecting the established coffee culture; they even took 14 months to develop a new brewing tool that combines a drip attachment good for their arabica beans with the form of a familiar phin filter.

A hand pours a pot of hot water into a phin-style coffee brewer sitting on a window sill beside another brewer.
Là Việt’s custom coffee brewer.
Là Việt

Okkio Caffe

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Okkio’s cafes, founded by Đạt Phan, are a respite from the zooming motorbikes and honking cars. The District Three location is tucked away in an alley off busy Pham Ngoc Thach Street, and the cafe doesn’t look like much as you approach the white French Colonial-era facade. Inside, though, is an Instagrammer’s dream, with winding steel staircases, small red-painted pathways, two floors of retro-chic furniture, and a small garden. Okkio has a wide assortment of drinks, including cold brew, Vietnamese cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee), and a brew bar where you can choose your beans and brewing method. Opt for one of the house beans for the full Okkio experience.

A red pathway winding between slatted glass walls into a modernist cement structure.
The quiet wonderland inside the Pham Ngoc Thach Street location.
Okkio Caffe

Phúc Long Coffee and Tea

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There’s never a bad time of day for milk tea, so Phúc Long is crammed with local patrons and delivery drivers morning, afternoon, and night. This local chain started as a tea and coffee supplier and distributor before turning its attention to the retail market. The milk tea is well-balanced, strong, sweet, and creamy — and offers great value for your money — so naturally it has exploded over the past few years and can now be found throughout town. The Trần Cao Vân location, which sits right at the famous Ho Chi Minh City Turtle Lake roundabout, is a must, especially at night when the area comes alive with people hanging around eating street food snacks. Phúc Long offers an assortment of drinks in addition to milk tea, such as coffee, juices, smoothies, and fruity black iced tea.

A cafe exterior set among a flurry of other businesses and surrounded by mopeds.
Outside Phúc Long.
Linh Phan

Pasteur Street Brewing Co.

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Before Pasteur Street Brewing Company, the craft beer scene in Vietnam was pretty much nonexistent. You could get only the local mass-produced beers or imported brands at local bars, restaurants, and street food joints. Founders John Reid and Alex Violette decided to merge American craft brewing techniques with fresh, local Vietnamese ingredients. They brewed their first batch in November 2014, and by 2016, they burst onto the international craft beer stage when their Cyclo Imperial Chocolate Stout took home a gold medal at the World Beer Awards. Pasteur has remained the undisputed craft beer leader in Vietnam, expanding its catalog of beer flavors and taprooms while winning multiple awards and exporting overseas.

Three pints of beer in various shades.
Some of Pasteur Street’s craft brews.
Pasteur Street Brewing Co.

7 Bridges Brewing

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Saroi Ushimi and Stanley Boots launched 7 Bridges Brewing in Danang in April 2017, and have since opened taprooms in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The company has won a swath of awards, and the cofounders incorporate zero-waste initiatives and local charity projects into their business. In addition to the company’s own brews, try an organic cider from local award-winning cidery Saigon Cider, which has also collaborated with 7 Bridges on Vietnam’s first nonalcoholic craft beverages.

Three customers cheers with beers inside an open window, with an ad for pizza outside.
Cheers at 7 Bridges.
7 Bridges Brewing

As you enter Hum, by walking over a small pond filled with lotus leaves and fish, you immediately feel relaxed and calm. The restaurant’s aim is to demonstrate that vegetarian food can be a wonderfully complex experience for the palate far beyond fried tofu. The mushroom coconut curry, served in a fresh coconut, is at once sweet, creamy, spicy, and meaty, while the square deep-fried spring roll of mushroom and veggies is crispy on the outside and rich on the inside. Wash down the meal with shots of Vietnamese apricot rice wine.

A darkened dining room lit only by a large round window, with low seats and benches with multicolored cushions situated around wooden tables.
Inside Hum.
Hum

Koreans are one of the largest expat communities in Ho Chi Minh City. Just as Korean pop culture has been embraced in Vietnam, so has the cuisine, in particular Korean barbecue. Bornga’s high-quality meats and ingredients have helped the chain expand throughout Asia and Australia, including two branches in HCMC. As your table fills quickly with plates of banchan, get the marinated galbi, jap chae (glass noodles), galbi-tang (beef bone stew), and of course kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew). Order a bottle of flavored soju or raspberry wine to wash down your meal.

A restaurant interior with one long counter and tables outfitted with overhead vents.
Inside Bornga.
Ly Tu Trong

Cộng Cà Phê

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In 2007, Vietnamese artist Linh Dung opened the first Cộng Cà Phê in the heart of Hanoi’s downtown quarter. It was frequented by members of the local art community, who stopped by for the heavenly signature Cốt Dừa Cà Phê, iced coconut milk with dark, strong Vietnamese coffee. According to the website, “Cộng” refers to Vietnam’s official name, Cộng Hòa Xã hội Chủ Nghĩa Việt Nam (the Socialist Republic of Vietnam), though the cafe interior also includes lots of design references to the Viet Cong. The city’s young residents — who tend to think of the war differently than older generations and the international community — have embraced the vintage decor and military-esque furniture as period kitsch, and the cafe has become immensely popular in HCMC with many locations.

A barista pushes forward a large iced drink topped with whipped cream.
Coconut coffee.
Cộng Cà Phê

Chả Cá Lã Vọng

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This restaurant, named for the traditional Northern dish of fish in turmeric sauce, has this signature dish down pat. Like the dish, the restaurant started in Hanoi before expanding to HCMC, where it became a go-to. Turmeric- and dill-marinated whitefish filets are stir-fried at the table with heaps of fresh dill and spring onion, then served with a bowl of vermicelli and topped with peanuts, rice crackers, and fermented shrimp paste or fish sauce.

A frying pan full of fish and herbs, surrounded by more fixings and bread.
The eponymous chả cá lã vọng.
Chả Cá Lã Vọng

Làng Nướng Nam Bộ

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Làng Nướng Nam Bộ is loud and boisterous, a favorite spot for local Vietnamese families. Large ceramic sculptures and bamboo announce the facade, while the interior is massive and deafening, with groups laughing, glasses clinking, and plates full of food being slammed on the tables. It’s been open since 1999, and people come from all over the city for the specialty whole-roasted baby suckling pig, served with fried baos. You can take your pick of fresh seafood too, and top it off with an ice-cold glass of Saigon Bia.

A fanciful restaurant interior with large statues of cartoonish children, fake foliage, and decorations hanging from the high ceiling.
Decorations inside Làng Nướng Nam Bộ.
Linh Phan

Maguro Studio

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Ho Chi Minh City has a huge Japanese expat community, including an area of alleyways in the city commonly referred to as Japan Town, where you’ll find small ramen and gyoza joints, whiskey bars, and yakitori chains. For omakase, you’re definitely in good hands at Maguro Studio, the restaurant from the Japanese premium seafood importer Yamanaka Vietnam, which brings in the freshest seafood from Japan, including bluefin tuna. The fatty tuna, salmon belly, and beef all melt in your mouth.

A sushi chef places a hot coal on top of slices of fish.
A different way to sear.
Maguro Studio

Dim Tu Tac

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Ho Chi Minh City has a huge Chinese Vietnamese community that dates back to the 18th century, and there are plenty of spots for families and friends to gather on the weekends for dim sum. With four locations, Dim Tu Tac is the go-to for quality yet affordable dim sum with great service. During the weekend, expect a long queue at peak lunchtime, but the wait is worth it for the steaming Taiwanese soup dumplings, melt-in-your-mouth roasted fatty pork belly, spicy-sweet rice rolls in XO sauce, fiery Taiwanese wontons, and crackling Peking duck served two ways.

A bright dining room with plush upright seats, white tablecloths, and a shiny bar at the far end.
Inside Dim Tu Tac.
Dim Tu Tac

Summer Experiment

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As you walk through the dark, tiny entrance and up the vintage stairwell to Summer Experiment, you know you’re in for a truly unique experience. This cocktail bar — ranked on Asia’s 100 Best Bars list in 2021 — is the brainchild of Australian expat and noted HCMC barman Jay Moir, who showcases his love for bringing the garden to the bar. The extensive drink menu is filled with colorful concoctions such as the Purple Potato Madness, an inventive take on the espresso martini with rum, sweet potato puree, and cold brew. Along with a strong farm-to-bar approach, limited use of plastic, and zero-waste cocktail creations, the team at Summer Experiment works closely with local sustainability programs that support suppliers and growers.

Wooden spoons with red jelly blobs topped with herbs.
A jellied concoction.
Summer Experiment

Pizza 4P’s

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Pizza 4P’s started in a Tokyo backyard, where founder Masuko Takasugi and his then-girlfriend (now wife), Sanae, decided to build an outdoor pizza oven, planting the seeds for what would become an award-winning operation. In 2011, they left the corporate world and started their venture in Ho Chi Minh City, with a first location off Le Thanh Ton Street in Japan Town. Wanting to keep the price point low, they decided to make their own mozzarella cheese at a facility in Da Lat, and have since expanded production to include favorites such as Camembert and burrata. The thin-crust pies range from traditional (e.g., Parma ham, cherry tomatoes, arugula, burrata) to inspired (salmon sashimi with onion ricotta cheese sauce), and there are vegetarian options too (zucchini, zucchini flower, and basil with house-made lactic cheese). Don’t want pizza? Then go for the house-made pasta with crab sustainably sourced from the Mekong Delta.

A modernist building with floor to ceiling windows outlined by steel and cement.
Outside Pizza 4P’s.
Pizza 4P’s

Vina Chuối

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In 2018, Phạm The Can, the founder behind the startup Vina Chuối, appeared on Shark Tank Vietnam, winning investment to expand his business from one shop to eight stalls throughout the city, all selling fried bananas. The dish is common among street food vendors, but Vina Chuối fries the fruit right on the spot, and the batter includes secret seasonings. The bananas are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and less greasy than at competing places too. The chain also sells other items, such as grilled bananas and banana ice cream.

Battered bananas frying in a large vat of oil with tongs hanging above.
Bananas frying.
Linh Phan

Tucked behind busy stalls in the heart of one of the city’s oldest surviving wet markets stands a traditional, narrow Vietnamese house that holds three floors of creative, innovative food and drink concepts from award-winning chef Peter Cuong Franklin. Anan (Eat Eat), the oldest of the three concepts, rose to international fame with $100 renditions of pho and banh mi, the latter including truffle mayonnaise, foie gras, and caviar. Even if you can’t afford those, come for crispy Dalat Pizza made with roasted duck or the truffle pho made with wagyu and truffle consomme. Be sure to stop by Nhau Nhau (Drink Drink), the second-floor cocktail bar, where you can try Song Cai, Vietnam’s first craft gin distillery founded in Hanoi in 2018, which sources native grains and botanicals from families of the Red Dao, Hmong, H’Re, and X’Tiêng peoples.

A bowl of pho with a swirl of noodles accompanied by dark shaved slices of meat, a bone full of marrow, a packet of herbs, and chile.
Bone marrow pho.
Anan

Bánh Mì 37

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The rumor is when Anthony Bourdain first came to Vietnam, he and his crew would frequently hit up this street cart. One taste and you’ll know why. Instead of the typical fillings of pate and cold cuts, sandwiches here are stuffed with mini pork patties marinated in sweet soy and garlic, and grilled over charcoal. It’s hidden in a tiny alley off Nguyen Trai Street and opens in the late afternoon. Get there early and pray that the line of tourists and locals doesn’t snake down the street — though it would be well worth the wait even if it did.

From above, a cook moves a wire grate full of grilled pork patties over a coal oven.
Mini pork patties.
Linh Phan

Maison Marou

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Filmmaker Vincent Mourou met ex-banker Samuel Maruta during an extreme jungle-survival trip in Vietnam, where they talked about the idea of creating a Vietnamese chocolate company. Their friendship and collaboration grew, until that idea became an award-winning, single-origin, bean-to-bar success story. Marou works with local cacao farmers in seven provinces across Vietnam, customizing chocolate flavors for each region. The sweetly perfumed Ho Chi Minh City shop and cafe offers a variety of desserts beyond bars, including truffles, cookies, hot chocolate, and an ever-changing menu of mini cakes. The team, led by renowned French pastry chef Stéphanie Aubriot, is constantly experimenting and adding new items to the roster.

A customer holds several branded chocolate bars.
Chocolate bars at Maison Marou.
Maison Marou

Phở Phú Vương

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Phở Phú Vương has been open for more than 25 years and features a unique blend of Northern and Southern styles of pho. Owner Phạm Văn Cử’s parents are from Nam Dinh Province, about 50 miles outside of Hanoi, and when they relocated to HCMC in 1954, they brought their family pho recipe. To cater to Southern taste buds, they made the broth slightly sweeter and leaned into flavors of ginger, anise, and cinnamon. Make sure to order the creamy poached egg yolk, which explodes as you slurp.

A bowl of pho chock full of meats, herbs, and noodles, with various additional toppings and sauces arrayed around the bowl.
Pho with fixings.
Phở Phú Vương

Quince Saigon

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The sister restaurant of the Bangkok restaurant of the same name, Quince is a star in Ho Chi Minh City’s international dining scene. Chefs Julien Perraudina and Charlie Jones lead the kitchen, which turns out a produce-driven Mediterranean menu from two wood-fired ovens. The plating is exquisite, and the food is bursting with deep, rich flavors, especially the baked Isigny Camembert with black truffle honey or the wood-roasted cauliflower with 24-month-old AOP comte cream — and that’s before you get to the mains. Look out for Israeli spiced lamb rump, aged Barbary duck magret, and wagyu tomahawk bulgogi, to name just a few.

A round of cheese presented in a pan drizzled with dark sauce, topped with nuts, and accompanied by a basket of bread.
Camembert with black truffle honey.
Quince Saigon

Dosh Doughnuts & Coffee

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The gourmet doughnut craze hit Ho Chi Minh City when Kevin Bùi and Emma Nguyễn opened Dosh Doughnuts in 2017. The flagship store is as Instagram worthy as the doughnuts it dispenses, a creamsicle-colored multistory building overlooking the Saigon River. The doughnuts are made from fresh local ingredients, and the menu is continually updated with new creations. Options range from simple glazed renditions to elaborately decorated ones, like those filled with rambutan and stabbed with pipettes of caramel, or another variety stacked with strawberry waffles like Jenga blocks.

A box with four fancifully decorated doughnuts.
A variety of Dosh doughnuts.
Dosh Doughnuts & Coffee

Pride Cafe

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Walk up the narrow concrete stairwell to reach Pride Cafe, a queer-owned spot that was opened in 2021 by Võ Minh Quân, Derek Dodd, and Dustin Leonard. The place is outfitted with pink neon signs, soft light bulbs that spell out “Pride,” and a pink swing set. Go for one of the specialty coffee drinks like the Tiara & Fabulous (espresso, tiramisu sauce, cocoa, coffee ice cream, and a ladyfinger), or opt for something boozy like the Green & Gold (Irish whiskey, ginger, stout). Community events at the cafe include monthly board game nights and book and chess clubs.

Posters on the wall of a dining room.
Inside Pride Cafe.
Pride Cafe

Cơm Tấm An Dương Vương

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After a long day exploring Cholon (Chinatown), make sure to wander toward this local establishment that’s been operating for more than 20 years: The smoky, sweet aroma of garlic pork chops being grilled over an open coal fire will draw you right in. In the signature dish, tender, thin chops are served over a plate of steaming broken rice alongside shredded pork and pork skin, baked pork egg loaf, and a sunny side up egg. Besides the pork chop, the restaurant offers a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes that change daily.

A hand with tongs hangs over pork chops on the grill producing lots of smoke.
Pork chops grilling on coal.
Linh Phan

Le Café des Stagiaires

There’s nothing like a rooftop bar with a clear view of the city, especially during a sunset happy hour with friends, drinks in hand, and chill beats from a DJ. Established in 2011 in Shanghai, Le Café des Stagiaires has since opened locations in Bangkok (2015) and Ho Chi Minh City (2020). The concept is straightforward: Create a neighborhood gastrobar with simple yet tasty food and drinks where European cafe culture is the center of social gatherings. Try one of the signature drinks, such as the Coriander Mule or sangria, or create your own gin and tonic.

Customers seated at tables and adirondack chairs with an amazing view of the city skyline.
The rooftop at Le Café des Stagiaires.
Le Café des Stagiaires

Xôi Lá Chuối

If you’re looking for a light, delicious snack, head over to Xôi Lá Chuối for some sweet or savory sticky rice. Unlike competitors, this stall wraps sticky rice in banana leaves, sealing in the flavors. Go for the savory mixed sticky rice option with sweet soy-marinated shredded chicken, which also includes smoky Chinese sausage, Vietnamese sausage, and shredded pork topped with scallion oil and peanuts.

A cook grabs ingredients from prep trays to put together a packet of sticky rice in a banana leaf.
Sticky rice coming up.
Linh Phan

Cục Gạch Quán

For great traditional family-style Vietnamese food in a beautiful setting, look no further than mainstay Cục Gạch Quán. Opened by architect Trần Bình in a French Colonial house with vintage tiles and crafted antique furniture, it was dubbed the “architect’s house” by the HCMC creative community who frequented it in its early days. In 2011, it gained notoriety when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt dined there, and it has since become a staple for locals and visitors. Throwback Saigonese music plays from a reel-to-reel as diners tuck into items like braised pork belly in coconut water, stir-fried garlic zucchini flower, fried egg and tofu with lemongrass and chile, pomelo salad, and tamarind sour soup.

A long table in a wood-lined A-frame space, with a golden buddha statue sitting on a display at the far end.
The dining room at Cục Gạch Quán.
Cục Gạch Quán

Å by Tung

Å by Tung’s Nordic architecture immediately stands out from the neighboring Vietnamese shophouses in the trendy Dakao Ward. The restaurant is a tribute to Northern Europe, where chef Hoang Tung developed his passion for fine dining. A meal here is an immersive experience, from the minimalist interior to the 19-course tasting menu, which changes every three months. Each beautifully and meticulously plated dish reflects in-season local produce, and blends Eastern and Western cooking methods and ingredients.

A moody blue interior with constellation-like light fixtures and a large stalactite-like instillation above the stairwell.
Ambiance at Å by Tung.
Å by Tung

Birdy

Though it opened only in 2016, this neighborhood bar is one of the staples in the trendy Phạm Viết Chánh area. It’s also tiny, seating approximately 10 people inside, and good luck trying to find a chair on the street-side patio. In the early days, it was frequented by local creatives, but it has since grown in popularity, attracting all sorts of characters. You never know what kind of new friend you may make over a glass of whiskey.

Customers sit at outdoor tables outside an open bar front beneath a branded awning.
The coveted patio seating.
Morgan Ommer

Luu Bar

Luu Bar is the perfect encapsulation of the trendy Phạm Viết Chánh neighborhood, and it’s the perfect place if you’re looking for a chilled-out, party vibe. It offers craft beers, fancy cocktails, and Champagne, and DJs are on hand to get your feet moving. Feeling a bit peckish late at night? Grab a slice of pizza from Oliver’s Restaurant nearby, which Luu Bar owners William Szabo and Du Minh-Duc Laurent recently took over.

A cocktail with the name Luu stenciled on foam.
A branded cocktail at Luu Bar.
Luu Bar

Cháo Ếch Singapore Tân Định

Hit this spot in the Tan Dinh Market after 7 p.m. for steaming Singaporean-style frog congee. Just squat down on a plastic seat, shout out “em ơi” (hey you), and place your order. Like many places in town that focus on one item, Tân Đinh has perfected its recipe for frog stew, producing bubbling, spicy yet sweet bowls alongside plain congee. Order some steamed winged beans to add to the mix, and watch as the cooks perform a balancing act, fitting as many clay pots of braised frog meat on the grill as the hot coals can hold.

Small iron pots bubbling with dark broth on a grate set above a coal fire.
Pots of frog congee on the fire.
Linh Phan

Noir Dining in the Dark

Noir Dining in the Dark was founded in 2014 by Vũ Anh Tú and Germ Doornbos as a social enterprise to support the Vietnamese visually impaired community with stable employment. Guests dine in the dark, challenging their taste buds to identify ingredients without sight; this type of restaurant appears in a number of cities and can seem a bit gimmicky, but here the execution is on point. There are several carefully curated set menus to choose from, including a vegetarian option, and everything is prepared using the finest local and organic ingredients.

A hand runs over Braille lettering on a menu in a darkened room.
The menu.
Noir Dining in the Dark

Là Việt Coffee

Là Việt Coffee is one of the key players in the modern coffee scene. Moving away from the robusta beans traditionally found around town, husband-and-wife founders Trần Nhật Quang and Nguyen Thi Nhu Ngoc opted to focus on arabica beans grown, harvested, and roasted at their farm in Da Lat. Their experimentation has resulted in some truly unique coffee drinks, such as the specialty margarita coffee mocktail made with lime, sugar syrup, and cold brew, complete with salt rim. The couple is always pushing the boundaries of Vietnamese coffee while respecting the established coffee culture; they even took 14 months to develop a new brewing tool that combines a drip attachment good for their arabica beans with the form of a familiar phin filter.

A hand pours a pot of hot water into a phin-style coffee brewer sitting on a window sill beside another brewer.
Là Việt’s custom coffee brewer.
Là Việt

Okkio Caffe

Okkio’s cafes, founded by Đạt Phan, are a respite from the zooming motorbikes and honking cars. The District Three location is tucked away in an alley off busy Pham Ngoc Thach Street, and the cafe doesn’t look like much as you approach the white French Colonial-era facade. Inside, though, is an Instagrammer’s dream, with winding steel staircases, small red-painted pathways, two floors of retro-chic furniture, and a small garden. Okkio has a wide assortment of drinks, including cold brew, Vietnamese cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee), and a brew bar where you can choose your beans and brewing method. Opt for one of the house beans for the full Okkio experience.

A red pathway winding between slatted glass walls into a modernist cement structure.
The quiet wonderland inside the Pham Ngoc Thach Street location.
Okkio Caffe

Phúc Long Coffee and Tea

There’s never a bad time of day for milk tea, so Phúc Long is crammed with local patrons and delivery drivers morning, afternoon, and night. This local chain started as a tea and coffee supplier and distributor before turning its attention to the retail market. The milk tea is well-balanced, strong, sweet, and creamy — and offers great value for your money — so naturally it has exploded over the past few years and can now be found throughout town. The Trần Cao Vân location, which sits right at the famous Ho Chi Minh City Turtle Lake roundabout, is a must, especially at night when the area comes alive with people hanging around eating street food snacks. Phúc Long offers an assortment of drinks in addition to milk tea, such as coffee, juices, smoothies, and fruity black iced tea.