Vibrant Ho Chi Minh City challenges the Asian powerhouses of Bangkok and Singapore as one of the most exciting cities in Southeast Asia. From pan-Asian fusion to the traditional Vietnamese Pho, we discover the top 15 restaurants that this dynamic city has to offer.
Shri Restaurant & Lounge
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, European, Fusion, Asian, Contemporary, Gluten-free, $$$
Shri Restaurant & Lounge is set atop the Center Tower. With its ceiling-to-floor windows it offers unparalleled panoramic views from nearly every table. Frangipani trees, water features and the general open-air feel make for a perfect place to unwind after a long day exploring the city. The objective of Shri Restaurant & Lounge is simple: beautiful home-cooked European food in a relaxed and ambient setting.
Skewers is a long-standing favorite of Ho Chi Minh City expats. It serves Mediterranean food on skewers, as the name suggests. The flame-bursting barbecuing is done in an open-air kitchen, which means guaranteed entertainment if the candlelight and cozy atmosphere doesn’t grab you. To top it off, they offer some of the finest cigars and whiskey in town.
Cuc Gach is a restaurant that finds itself in most travel guides as a top 10 place to eat in Ho Chi Minh City. It gained even more popularity after Anjelina Jolie and Brad Pitt dined here during their visit to Vietnam. It’s located in an old French colonial house that has been restored with recycled material. The quirky design, with its low doors, tasteful interior of antiques, mismatched and chipped china, plants and a nice little pond in the middle of the house creates a very friendly and intimate environment.
For authentic, home-cooked Vietnamese food, this rooftop oasis is the go-to place. Secret Garden really is a secret garden–beautifully decorated with central Vietnamese-style lanterns, a lot of greenery and wooden furniture to match, and is hidden among the Ho Chi Minh City skyline. There is no elevator inside, but don’t let this intimidate you. Once you’ve sat down, make sure to order family style like the Vietnamese do.
The architecture and design of Hum Vegetarian Lounge & Restaurant perfectly complements its eclectic vegetarian menu. You’re surrounded by fresh greenery, wooden décor and small water ponds that create a simple yet elegant and calming atmosphere as you dine. Careful on all those stairs!
Owned by the same owner as Secret Garden, Secret House launched in 2017 and quickly rose up the ranks. It is also somewhat hidden, tucked away down a quiet alley (although this restaurant has no stairs to climb, unlike the previous one!) The whole place is decorated like a comfortable, rural home, and you can choose to sit inside which has two floors, or outside in courtyard which is also a herb garden. Try the homemade yoghurt—it’s less than a dollar and delicious!
Mountain Retreat is spread over two floors of an old apartment building. There is no elevator here either, which makes Mountain Retreat quite aptly named. The restaurant has a cozy interior with a bamboo covered ceiling, clay walls and wooden furniture, giving you a very earthy setting as you dine.
Anan in Vietnamese means “eat eat,” which is basically all you will do at this restaurant. Located along Ton That Dam Street, the restaurant is right in the middle of a wet market, Cho Cu. The kitchen is run by award-winning chef, Peter Cuong Franklin, who creates masterpieces with only the freshest of ingredients that come together creating vibrant flavors.
Bun Cha is a delicious Hanoian dish made of vermicelli noodles, grilled pork patties, a broth made of vinegar, fish sauce and sugar with pickled papaya and carrot, served with a basket of greens. A great place to try this dish is Bun Cha 145, located right in the heart of District 1, in the backpacker street of Bui Vien. It’s also great hangover food!
Just as its name suggests, the restaurant specializes in seafood, and has a huge menu that covers delicious northern, central and southern Vietnamese dishes. Five Oysters also has a rooftop–perfect for watching drunk backpackers sway about from bar to bar as you enjoy beer sold for VND$10,000 (USD$0.40) per bottle. On Fridays you can get fresh oysters for just VND$10,000 each, too!
If you’re tired of the constant rice and noodles and are looking for some good pizza, head over to Pizza 4P’s. Over the years it’s made a name for itself, and has launched numerous locations in various cities. You will want try every pizza on the menu, so opt for two or three half n’ halves and choose your favorites. The cheese is made locally, in the hills of Da Lat, and they follow a “Farm to Table” policy. Their pasta is also fantastic.
For Italian food, Ciao Bella ranks among the top. You are warmly welcomed with a complimentary glass of Prosecco, and this coupled with the ambiance and good service, sets the tone for the rest of your evening. The menu features delicious and familiar Italian mains, but make sure to try their signature “Posh Carbonara”, which is prepared inside a wheel of cheese right in front of you.
If you love bacon (who doesn’t?) you’re in for a treat. The Hungry Pig is where you need to go if you’re looking for a Western breakfast with lots of bacon. Choose creatively named sandwiches from the menu, such as the Pig Lebowski or the Notorious P.I.G, or you can opt to make your own sandwich. Interesting, weird, and kind of scary pictures hang on the walls.
This high-end venue serves mostly Vietnamese cuisine but with a modern twist, in a comfortable and elegant setting. The atmosphere at Xu Restaurant is fantastic for an evening—the music is not overbearing, the staff are attentive and the food delicious. Opt for either the five or four course tasting menu, which comes with cocktails and matching wine. It may not be a Michelin-starred venue, but it feels as if you are in one.
Poke is a Hawaiian dish that has become popular worldwide. It started in the ’70s in a humble manner, created by Hawaiian fishermen who seasoned the cut-offs from their commercial catches to create a delicious snack. Creating your own dish at Poke Saigon is simple: a regular serving of poke costs VND$150,000 (USD$6.60), and you can customize it with additional ingredients as you please. An extra scoop of poke can be added for VND$30,000 (USD$1.30). You have a variety of choices for the base–sushi rice, brown rice, salar or half-and-half. It’s healthy, too.