From the upscale to the downright dirty, in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District the eateries are as endless as they are fascinating. This is a corner of Saigon with a bit of an edge and more often than not, restaurants to match. Local, foreign, and everything in-between, these are Binh Thanh’s seven best restaurants.
Quan Ut Ut
Restaurant, British, $$$
Courtesy of Quan Ut Ut
Sometimes there’s nothing better than good old-fashioned American barbecue. In Ho Chi Minh City, no one does it better than Quan Ut Ut (Oink Oink Tavern). With great craft beer and a massive smoker loaded with ribs, sausages, pork belly, and more, this is one exceptional excuse to put down the chopsticks and leave the pho behind.
What started out as one tiny, street-side pho cart just like any other, has morphed into a full-blown buffet ranging from oysters and shrimp to chicken liver and veggie skewers. Perhaps it’s the never fading smile of the proprietor, Thu, that makes this place so special, or perhaps it’s the feast bursting with flavor that she cooks up every night. Either way, this is one stretch of plastic stools not to be missed.
The nonstop buzz of the crowd emanating from this canal-front joint is a dead giveaway that something right is going on. Like many other Saigon establishments, this began as a hole in the wall and slowly swallowed up its neighbors. Now occupying almost an entire block, 248 Truong Sa Quan offers some of the best seafood around.
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Hidden down an alley behind several towering skyscrapers, this slab of concrete littered with red plastic chairs is as authentic as it gets. Grilled on a street-front stove top, the food here is quite good, yet it’s the manic action that will keep you coming back. Quan Nhau Binh Dan is infused with a certain scintillating lawlessness that’s due in large part to the teen boys running the place. If you’re looking for a lively, action-packed experience that will give you more than a glimpse into local life, this is the dive for you.
Part of Binh Thanh’s burgeoning Japan Town, Sushi Nhi offers some of the best sushi in the entire city at dirt cheap prices. The friendly staff is incredibly attentive, and the fish is some of the freshest in all of Saigon. With full meals ranging in price from 70,000–200,000 VND (3–9 USD), it’s no wonder this young establishment is packed throughout the week.
Young. Hip. Western. More of a bar than a restaurant, Khoai has quickly earned a reputation as one of the coolest spots around. With funky upside-down decor and more beer than an ESL teacher could drink, this Binh Thanh joint is a great place to meet up for a night out with friends.
The best French food in Ho Chi Minh City can be found in Binh Thanh? That is correct. Far from the lights of District 1, Le Bordeaux has been the restaurant of choice for those seeking a high-end European experience for nearly a quarter century. Great for a romantic night out, this may be the classiest restaurant in all of Binh Thanh.