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Down the main tourist strips of Phan Xi Phang, Muong Hoa and Cau May streets of Sapa, you can find many restaurants vying for your attention. Most serve regional meals, but, since it is a foreigner friendly area, they all try to offer a little bit of everything. You can find a mix of American, French, and Italian dining, however, make sure you try some local specialties. This guide will help you find a venue to suit your tastes.
Another location in which you can dine with a fantastic view of the hilly surroundings, Nature View, stays true to its name. On the menu are a mix of delicious Vietnamese and Western food items, and the dining experience is only further enhanced by the lovely service. It is also a great place to take some time to yourself, sit outside, above the clouds, and sip some local Lao Cai coffee as you enjoy a great book. The chicken sautéed in lemongrass and basil, grilled salmon, and the yoghurt sautéed chicken are worth a special mention. Plus it’s open 24 hours!
Run by the Sapa O’Chau Travel Social Enterprise, this is a special café that serves as a meeting place for the socially conscious, a training facility for the students of the enterprise, an information center about the Sapa O’Chau project, and a place to organize treks and homestays. Sapa O’Chau is a non-profit organization that aims to promote education and employment opportunities for the Hmong ethnicity in Sapa and beyond. For cold days, the ginger tea sweetened with Sapa mountain honey served here is the perfect way to warm up.
Hidden away, up some stairs in an alleyway, this restaurant surprises most patrons by how good the dishes are, despite the restaurant being quite empty. It has the location to thank for that. You are welcomed into a warm environment with smiles, and it only gets better from there. The food is healthy, cooked using organic ingredients sourced from local farmers. The menu changes seasonally, but dishes to keep an eye out for are the pumpkin soup and the lemongrass stir-fried tofu.
This French-owned place serves a decent Western menu of pizzas, burgers, pastas, steaks, omelets, and the like, and some local options such as fish served with wild Sapa mushrooms. The patio at Le Gecko is a great place to sit down with a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. Try the “nama chocolate,” a favorite among patrons and only VND$10,000 (US$0.44) a piece. Le Gecko is also a hotel with 12 rooms that range from $18 – $40 a night.
Featuring a cozy fireplace on the inside, Viet Emotion Restaurant is perfect to warm yourself up on cold mountain nights. The menu fills its pages with Western items such as pizza, pasta, and steaks as well as Vietnamese and Sapa specialties, such as herbal medicine hot pot with lemongrass and mushrooms and spring rolls. There are also two computers available for use with free internet access.
With a large, delicious menu and fast, friendly service, this is another great venue to get some local specialties. The prices are among the lowest in Sapa town; meals can be had for as low as VND$40,000 (US$1.76). A must-try dish is the special Sapa mushroom-tomato soup, which will also help you stay warm in the chilly weather. The pho-ga (chicken noodle soup) is also worth a mention, and probably one of the best pho dishes you can find in town. The fiery garlic sauce that sits on the tables is a great accompaniment to most dishes, but take it easy!
Here’s a restaurant that is a little hard to find information about in English. A Quynh is a favorite among locals and famous for serving Northwest specialties; it is a great option for foreign travelers to try some unique dishes. Residents of Sapa come here to try their “thang co” dish made from meat and internal organs of horse, beef, buffalo, and pork. Other dishes that shine are the bamboo-tube rice, smoking-shelf buffalo, stream fish, sautéed and baked food made from wild boar, and horse hotpot.
On the way to Silver Waterfall (Thac Bac), you will find Red Dao House Restaurant, which is set in a traditional-style house of the Red Dao people. On the menu are rural foods such as wild board “heo rung cap nach,” and bamboo-tube rice. Meals are priced affordably, and there is seating outdoors if you wish to bask in the sun.
Sapa Lotus stands out from the many other restaurants located down Cau may Street, thanks to its swanky design and classic but unique style. This is the go-to place for Western food with a unique Vietnamese twist. Local dishes are available too, with a similar menu to other restaurants. Order family style – which means you get a couple of dishes and share with one another over chit chat. That’s how the Vietnamese do.