If you’ve read our Hanoi food guide or Hoi An food guide, you’ll already know how fresh and tasty Vietnamese food is. The food in Ho Chi Minh is no exception! In fact, the locals will tell you it’s Vietnam’s best foodie city. For that reason we’ve put together this Ho Chi Minh food guide to help you find the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City.
It would be fair to describe Ho Chi Minh as slightly more ‘Western’ than Hanoi and, for that reason, it is home to a large number of expats. As a result, you’ll find plenty of world cuisine, but also no shortage of authentic street food in Ho Chi Minh and tasty traditional dishes.
In this blog, we’ll help you discover the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh for 2020 as well as the best street food in Ho Chi Minh. Let’s dig in…
Best food in Ho Chi Minh
Let’s start by running through the popular dishes in Ho Chi Minh, focusing especially on those that are unique to Saigon and those you won’t find in Hanoi or Hoi An. Afterwards we’ll talk about the best places to eat in Ho Chi Minh.
- Com tam: The most popular Southern Vietnamese dish translates as broken rice and was traditionally a way to use up imperfect grains. People nowadays aim to make the pieces as small as possible and top them with pork and a gooey fried egg.
- Pho: Not from Ho Chi Minh specifically, this dish is a staple all over Vietnam!
- Bun mam: A delicious fish soup served with shrimp, chili, and other herbs and spices
- Banh xeo: Translated as ‘sizzling cake’ this is a bit like a savory pancake stuffed with pork, shrimp and beansprouts.
- Banh tet: Sticky rice and banana served inside a banana leaf. So moreish!
Best Ho Chi Minh restaurants in District 1
Since you’ll most likely stay in the city center during your time in Saigon, let’s get familiar with the best Ho Chi Minh city restaurants. These affordable, authentic eateries shouldn’t be missed!
If you’re keen to sink into a delicious banh mi sandwich or a hearty bowl of beef pho, this is the place to go! Nhu Lan Bakery is not only a grocery and delicatessen, but a modest sit-down restaurant serving countless typical Vietnamese dishes like pho bo, banh mi and more. If you’re looking for the best Vietnamese restaurant in Ho Chi Minh, this is a strong contender.
Address: 50 Ham Nghi, Ben Nghé, Quan 1.
Phở Hai Trieu
Everyone’s favorite pho restaurant in Ho Chi Minh may look modest from the outside but it serves some of the tastiest and most affordable food in Saigon. Here you can try beef (bo) pho, chicken (ga) pho and even some veggie options.
Tip for ordering pho: Say it ‘fff’. If you pronounce the ‘ph’ you’re actually saying ‘prostitute’, something the locals find quite funny.
Address: Ben Nghe, District 1.
Quán Bún Mắm Cửa Đông
Don’t miss this restaurant beside Ben Thanh Market if you want to try the best bun mam in the city (spoiler: you do!). Fresh prawns and chunks of white fish simmer in a hearty, flavoursome broth topped with beansprouts, lime and chilli. At 70k VND (US$3), it’s a steal.
Address: 22 Đường Phan Bội Châu.
Other eats in greater Ho Chi Minh
If you have a scooter or access to the ride-sharing Grab app, you can pretty much travel anywhere in Saigon on the hunt for food.
This restaurant is a 20-minute drive from central Saigon, and is best known for its tasty com tam, served for several generations. The generous cuts of pork and gooey egg yolks mix into the rice for a meal that’s hearty, filling and absolutely delicious. Don’t miss it!
Address: 84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, Phường 10.
This well-loved banh xeo restaurant is always busy with locals, the ultimate sign it’s good! Like the very best restaurants in Saigon, it’s famous for just one dish: banh xeo. These Vietnamese pancakes are enormous, stuffed with sizzling pork and seafood, served straight from the pan. It’s not a fancy eatery so you’ll need to grab a red stool and rub shoulders with the locals. The best way to dine!
Address: 46A Đinh Công Tráng, Tân Định, Quận 1
If you’re looking for meat-free dining, head to District 2’s Hum Vegetarian. This cozy restaurant serves all manner of vegetarian Vietnamese dishes at an affordable price. Everything is beautifully presented, served in clay pots or halved pineapples, making it one of the best veggie Saigon eateries for sure! Hum is right beside the War Remnants Museum so you can learn about Vietnam’s history before or after.
Address: 32 Võ Văn Tần, Phường 6, Quận 3.
Hungry yet? We barely scratched the surface of what Ho Chi Minh has to offer food-wise. Remember, there’s also an endless offering of street food in Saigon as well as fancy restaurants. You can even opt to join an afternoon food tour with a local guide who’ll help introduce you to some local dishes. So make sure to come hungry!
Featured image: @secretchefnyc