Vietnamese food is amongst the healthiest cuisines in the world showcasing fresh vegetables and packed with herbs for a flavoursome meal.
It can be a bit overwhelming travelling to a foreign country for the first time, so we’re here to help. We’ve explored the city and taste-tested (very happily) at many places to put together a list of the ten best restaurants in district 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
We’ve got you covered with the addresses, opening times and price ranges. Follow our recommendations for the dishes at each restaurant and you won’t be disappointed!
Mountain Retreat Restaurant
36 Le Loi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
This place is a hidden gem. We’ll admit this place is a bit hard to find, but the journey there is half the fun. Located across the road from Saigon Centre, look out for the light brown sign. Weave through a small alleyway and up many flights of stairs. The climb is worth it for the amazing food, interesting decor and great views.
Mountain Retreat has become increasingly popular in recent years with tourists. We went around lunchtime so we didn’t book in advance, but if you’re planning on dining at dinnertime on a weekend, give them a call to book in advance. We actually found this restaurant on TripAdvisor and we are so glad we ventured here.
Try the banh xeo (savoury sizzling pancake) and goi cuon (fresh spring rolls). They also serve the best mocktails and juices which are refreshing after walking up five flights of stairs in the Vietnamese heat. Ask for a seat by the balcony where there a bit of a breeze and enjoy the view!
Sharing dishes ranging from 75k VND for goi cuon (fresh spring rolls) to 115k for fried prawn with coconut milk.
10am – 9:30pm daily
Bun Cha 145
145 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1,
I can’t decide what the best thing about Bun Cha 145 is; the food, the price or the location! You can’t beat it! It is located right in the middle of the city in the backpacker area. The restaurant is small and immaculate, and the owner is super friendly.
If you don’t speak Vietnamese, the ordering process is super easy. You’re given a checklist with English translations. Just tick what you want to order with options for extra noodles and vegetables too.
Bun Cha is the main dish served here – a Hanoi rice noodle dish with grilled pork meatballs. The broth has a saltiness from fish sauce and pickled vegetables, a sweetness from the sugar and a kick from the vinegar. There’s a side of herbs and chilli to add to your dish for flavour.
Order the passion fruit drink – the sweet, syrupy goodness compliments the savoury food so well. Just as you think it couldn’t get any better, the drink, noodle dish and spring rolls come to a total of 75k VND, or just over $3 USD.
Don’t be put off if there’s a line outside the restaurant. They run a very efficient wait system so you usually only have to wait 10-15 minutes for a table.
Main Dish: 35k VND for bun cha (pork rice noodles)
Side Dish: 15k VND for nem ran (fried spring rolls)
Monday – Friday 12:30pm – 8pm
Saturday – Sunday 11:30pm – 8pm
75 – 77 Ho Tung Mau Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
This was the first place we dined at when we arrived in Vietnam and it continues to be one of our favourites. Rice Field is located close to Bitexco Tower and down an alleyway on the hip Ho Tung Mau Street. Choose between a seat inside adorned with lanterns and wooden furniture or a seat on their rooftop.
We had no problem finding a table at lunchtime, but it can get busy on weekends so it might pay to book in advance.
Be sure to try the goi cuon (fresh spring rolls with pork and prawn) and banh khot (mini rice pancakes with shrimp). For those with a sweet tooth, we haven’t forgotten about you! Try the banh chuoi nuong (Vietnamese banana cake).
Most sharing dishes within the 85-95k range such as goi cuon and charsiu pork.
7am – 10pm daily
Bep Me In
136/9 Le Thanh Ton Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
We love the atmosphere of this lively, colourful restaurant with yellow walls. If you’ve been to Hoi An (my favourite city in the world), you’d agree this is exactly where it reminds you of.
This place is very close to Ben Thanh markets which is a must do in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s likely you’ll have built up an appetite shopping up a storm so head on down for a feast.
The classic street bites are done really well here. Grab a few plates to share around. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something a little different, give banh dap thit nuong (Vietnamese pizza on sesame rice) a go. There are also a few desserts to choose from for only 35k – 40k VND.
Main Dish: Fried noodle with beef for 95k VND
Side Dish: Banh mi xiu mai (Vietnamese shumai) for 75k VND
10:30am – 10:30pm daily
Secret Garden Restaurant
158 Pasteur Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
One of the most well-known restaurants in the city, Secret Garden Restaurant is located very near to the independence palace. Look for the Thuc coffee shop and take the alleyway to the left of it. It’s down an alleyway featuring a few other eateries. There’s a small, yellow sign outside the alleyway but it’s easy to miss.
The rooftop restaurant is ornately decorated with string lights and lanterns; visit here in the evening to see the magic. Like many of the rooftop restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City, it is up a few flights of stairs. Appear to be amazed by the decor and views.
Secret Garden serves authentic Vietnamese food. Com chien hai san (fried seafood and rice) is a popular dish and really fills you up and there’s also Goi rau muong bo (beef and morning glory salad) as a great side dish. Order the fresh watermelon juice to keep you refreshed.
The side dishes are a little more expensive than other restaurants but the main dishes are well priced with decently-sized portions. If you’re not hungry, this also appears to be a popular spot with the younger generation to grab a couple of beers before a night out.
Check out Secret House, their sister restaurant just over 1km away in the Nguyen Thai Binh district. The food is similar but it is less well known, so isn’t as busy.
Main Dish: Com chien hai san (fried seafood and rice) for 115k VND and bo xao ot xanh (bell pepper and beef) for 95k VND
Side Dish: Cha gio (fried spring rolls) for 95k VND
11am – 10pm daily
Bun Bo Nam Bo – Ba Ba
76 Nguyen Thai Binh Street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1
Bun bo nam bo is a Hanoian dish consisting of 21 different ingredients. The marinated beef stir-fry is accompanied with rice noodles, a broth and herbs. This dish is known for the characteristic lemongrass flavour.
There are a few stores in Hanoi and this store has more recently opened in Ho Chi Minh City. The restaurant is located just steps away from Dan Sinh market, famous for selling war memorabilia. It appears to be popular with the locals so you know it’ll be a great pick. The plastic seating is common with many Vietnamese food outlets which adds to the experience.
You can get a combo for a starter, main dish and drink for 100k VND which is just over $4 USD, making it such a cheap eat. 120k VND will get you the above plus a mango, tapioca pearl and coconut milk dessert if you’re not yet full enough from the food!
Main Dish: 60k VND for bun bo nam bo (stir-fry beef and rice noodles)
Side Dish: 30k VND for nem ran (fried spring rolls)
Monday – Thursday 7:30am – 9pm
Friday 7:30am – 10pm
Saturday – Sunday 8:30am – 10pm
Royal Saigon Restaurant Bui Vien
201 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
A couple of minutes walk from Bun Cha 145, you’ll find Royal Saigon Restaurant also on backpacker street which is a super handy location. The place looks small from the outside but there is plenty of seating available.
The Welcome to Vietnam platter is a must buy, featuring many of Vietnam’s iconic street snacks.
Feast on the following:
- Fried spring rolls
- Fresh spring rolls
- Fried wontons
- Grilled minced pork skewers
- Quail egg, seafood and rice balls.
This is only 135k VND for two people and you get a great selection. Many often come here for a snack and share this platter along with a beer each.
Banh khot, a mini pancake with shrimp and chicken with cashews are amongst the popular dishes available.
Main Dish: Bun bo (beef noodles) for 90k VND
Side Dish: Goi cuon for 40k VND
10:30am – 10:30pm daily
130 Nguyen Trai Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
Along one of the most famous shopping streets in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find this treasure. Den Long is hard to miss with its entrance lined with colourful lanterns. The restaurant extends up a few stories and each is filled with lanterns which can be seen from the roadside. It’s quite a sight after dark!
The lemongrass chicken is a fan favourite at 75k VND and the guoi xoai (mango salad) is a refreshing choice at 85k VND. Be sure to try the com dua (coconut rice) served in a coconut too for 95k VND.
Main Dish: Com dua (coconut rice) for 95k VND or bo den long (specialty beef) for 115k VND
Side Dish: Cuon chay (vegetable spring roll) for 85k VND
11am – 10pm daily
Unit 28, No 6 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Cycle Resto is quite close to the Buddhist temple, Monument of King Hung and the movie theatre, Galaxy Nguyen Du.
There is such a great atmosphere when you walk into the restaurant and a welcoming atmosphere. The walls are covered in signatures of diners who travelled to Vietnam.
They offer a family meal for 160k VND per person. It’s a good way to try many popular Vietnamese dishes.
The combo comes with the following:
- Deep fried spring roll
- Green melon soup with shrimp
- Stir-fried vegetables with pork
- Stewed snakehead fish in a clay pot
- Fried chicken with lemongrass
- Steamed rice
- Egg coffee
A unique feature of Cyclo Resto is they offer a cooking class so you know how to cook these amazing dishes when you’re back home. The class is 750k VND per person, and there’s the option to book private classes at a higher cost. The class includes a 30-minute cyclo trip, visit to the market to buy ingredients, recipes to take home and refreshments. You’ll learn how to make four Vietnamese meals.
160k VND per person for a selection of Vietnamese dishes and egg coffee.
11am – 10pm daily
Hum Vegetarian Lounge & Restaurant
2 Thi Sach Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Chances are you’ll already be passing by this restaurant as it’s located right next to the War Remnants Museum. Designed carefully with wooden furniture, greenery and a water feature, you’ll immediately feel calm when you step inside.
Don’t miss out on the pineapple fried rice for 130k VND. This is actually a traditional Thai dish but Hum Vegetarian does this dish really well. Save some space for dessert and order xoi xaoi (mango sticky rice) for 110k VND. It’s one of the most popular Vietnamese desserts.
This restaurant is a little on the pricier side compared to the other restaurants mentioned, but the food here is amazing and the atmosphere is calming. It’s a must visit for vegetarians who are struggling to find the right dishes elsewhere.
Main Dish: Dau ho chung ruong (tofu with fermented black bean sauce) for 115k VND and 130k VND for pineapple fried rice
Side Dish: Goi cuon (fresh spring rolls) for 85k VND
10am – 10pm daily