I am all about trying the local food and experiencing local cuisine, but every once in a while people who are on holiday like to sit back and relax with the comforts of home and food that is familiar. Sometimes, people get cravings for Western food such as pizza, pasta, burgers, French fries, soup, steak etc.
Luckily, you can get all of these meals in many of the restaurants and cafes in D1, the centre of HCM. The problem is that they definitely vary in quality and taste and some of them are quite frankly not worth the money. So here is my list of the best places to fill your appetite for international food.
1. Pizza and Bia
I love this place. It’s out of the main touristy area, in District 3, but still close enough to make it worth it. It is ran by a local Vietnamese lady who fell in love with New York pizza when she lived in the US. She came back and started her own restaurant and personally trained all the staff. She is a really nice and you can read about her story on the menu. She serves all kinds of different pizzas from classic to more modern. The place itself is very small but atmospheric with old school New York style photography on the walls and you can watch them making the pizza in a clay oven right in front of you. Another cool part of this restaurant is that you can sit by the window and watch the locals driving by. There are traffic lights right outside so it’s fun to people watch as the traffic comes and goes.
If you fancy a drink, they serve a whole load of international ciders and beers as well as craft brews to suit all tastes. I think this place has it all and it’s one of my favourite places in HCM for a relaxed dinner.
2. Sumo BBQ
This is a big chain but it does serve amazing BBQ. It’s the “do it yourself” style and you get given a varied selection of meat cuts all served on a charcoal slate. The meat is high quality and delicious and makes a change from the cheaper local cuts of meat that are very common in Vietnam. This stuff literally melts in your mouth and is extremely tender- depending on how good your BBQ skills are!
You cook all the food yourself on a metal grill and the attentive staff frequently add tasty fat to the grill and change the hot coals. It’s a very social occasion and you can sit for hours eating your way through the delicious BBQ meat and also the delicious accompaniments. You are served a large, fresh salad as well as a huge rice dish with your choice of scrumptious meat on top, with added carrot, onion, lettuce and other crunchy veggies. It really is very delicious.
3. Rico Taco
I love this place. It’s conveniently located in the heart of District 1, on Hai Ba Trung street and there is another location in the quieter but further out District 3. It has a nice veranda set out so you can sit in the sunshine for lunch time or watch the light fade in an evening. The food is very good. They serve all kinds of Mexican food such as hard and soft shell Tacos, Burritos, Fajitas and more. The décor is Alfresco style and very vibrant and the chef himself is from Mexico and prides himself on authentic Mexican cuisine.
For those on a budget you can also get the lunch time special that comes with a main and a dessert plus a drink for about $4-5. Not bad! This place is rated 4.4 out of 5 on Google so definitely worth a visit.
4. Quan Ut Ut
Quan Ut Ut is another place to go for BBQ food but this is an American BBQ joint that has it all. The menu is small because what they do serve, they serve well and to perfection! They specialise in all-things pork and serve crispy pork belly, tender pork shoulder, Bacon burger and BBQ bacon with melted cheese (the Kilpatrick).
You can also get any kind of soda drink, plus special Hanoi Cider and craft brews from Pasteur street local brewing company. For those who love juice, you can get chilled coconut juice straight out the nut- absolutely delicious!
5. Le Jardin
This is a beautiful French style restaurant in the centre of district one that serves authentic, fresh French cuisine and excellent wine. Living up to its name, it is in a beautiful garden patio setting surrounded by large trees and plants and has a really beautiful ambiance. It is very relaxing and calming and the perfect place for a chilled out, high quality meal to complete your day. The price is always very reasonable and it generally gets very good reviews from happy customers.
You can choose from their extensive menu. What most people do is choose a juicy meat selection, then add the sides they want such as fresh salad, crispy fries, an assortment of tasty vegetables, creamy mashed potato, fried potatoes with garlic, coleslaw, the list goes on. They also serve a number of delicious deserts, including warm apple crumble and homemade pies.