19 Mar Our Favourite Places to Eat in Hanoi
Our living costs in Vietnam are so low that we could afford to eat out every day if we wanted to. While this might sound like heaven, searching for decent places to eat three times a day gets exhausting pretty quickly; after a year and a half of travel we were excited to finally move into an apartment in Hanoi and have our own kitchen to cook in. I’m also a vegetarian and a fussy eater who doesn’t (shock horror!) particularly love Asian food. Despite my picky habits, we still eat out at least twice a week and after seven months here we’ve developed a list of our favourite places to eat in Hanoi.
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Our Top 8 Places to Eat in Hanoi
Here, in no particular order, are our favourite restaurants and cafes in Hanoi. Just to reiterate, if you’re looking for a foodie guide to Hanoi filled with street food suggestions and places to eat traditional Vietnamese dishes, this isn’t it. However, if you’re a vegetarian and have a weakness for western comforts with the occasional Vietnamese dish thrown in, this might give you some idea of where to eat in Hanoi.
This North American bakery and cafe is a regular haunt of ours and I honestly don’t know how we would have coped in Hanoi without it. From seven-grain bread and cheddar-pepper bagles to salads, soups and cookies and cakes, everything at Joma is fresh and delicious. We’re obsessed with the giant chocolate chip cookies and generous slices of carrot cake and we pop in every few days to stock up on bread or have lunch, an evening dessert or to take advantage of the wifi when our internet connection is rubbish at home.
We first discovered Joma in Laos, so we were delighted to stumble across it when we arrived in Vietnam. There are four branches of Joma in Hanoi, one of which is literally a ten minute walk from our apartment and yes, all the staff there know us well by now! One of the best things about Joma is that it’s very cheap by western standards; a tea, coffee or small cake costs just under £1 and sandwiches go for around £2.50. When we lived in the UK we could never afford to regularly frequent coffee shops like Joma and I’m really going to miss this place when we leave Hanoi.
Where is Joma? There are four branches in Hanoi: 22 Ly Quoc Su, 28 Tong Duy Tan, 43 To Ngoc Van and 38 Lieu Giai.
Café Giang for Egg Coffee
I’m not a huge fan of coffee but if you are, Vietnam is a great place to be given that it’s the second largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil. Ca Phe Da is Vietnam’s signature brew; a concoction of ground coffee with condensed milk layered on top, followed by boiling water. I’ve tried this at my local Vietnamese café in-between classes and it certainly packs a strong punch; combined with the sugar from the condensed milk, it kept me awake through my evening class.
Hanoi is famous for its Ca Phe Trung, egg coffee, which combines condensed milk, boiling water and ground coffee with frothy egg. Sounds weird, but we were eager to try it when we arrived in Hanoi. After some research we discovered the best place to do so was at Café Giang in the Old Quarter. Founded in 1946, this tiny, nondescript café is filled with tiny stalls to perch on while you sip on either traditional egg coffee or a chocolate or rum option. At under £1 a cup, we tried the traditional and chocolate varieties and were pleasantly surprised; the coffee tasted like a rich, miniature dessert. We’ve taken visiting friends for egg coffee in Hanoi and they’ve loved it.
Where is Café Giang? 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street , Hoan Kiem.
Hanoi Social Club
This Vietnamese run cafe/restaurant/hang-out is a great place to spend an evening or afternoon with friends. Set on a beautiful quiet street in the Old Quarter, the old colonial-style building is split over three floors with a roof terrace at the top. The décor is quirky with a mismatch of old armchairs, retro posters on the walls, rugs on the floor and bookcases filled with old paperbacks for sale. Chill-out music plays in the background while you eat and a trio of cute pure-white kittens live upstairs.
Oh, and the menu is great of course, with a mix of healthy western and vegetarian dishes including falafel, salads, wraps, soups, curries and polenta fries as well as teas, coffees and fresh fruit juices and shakes. The house burger has a great reputation but as a vegetarian, I love this place for its salads, veggie dishes and falafel – it also has the best chips I’ve tasted in Hanoi. Food ranges from £1 to about £4.50 but we have a membership card that entitles us to 50% off main meals on Mondays, bargain!
Where is Hanoi Social Club? 6 Hoi Vu, Hoan Kiem.
Andrew loves this Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall place on the corner of Luong Van Cam and Hang Gai street in the Old Quarter. It serves only hot doughy buns straight out of a huge oven with a choice of fillings; chocolate and coffee as well as some stranger concoctions like green tea. Great for a quick snack or after-dinner dessert while strolling around the weekend market or nearby Hoan Kiem Lake.
Where is the Pappa Roti? 34 Hang Gai, Hoan Kiem
Bun Bo Nam Bo
I’m not a huge fan of Vietnamese food but I do eat it occasionally. When we first arrived in Hanoi a fellow teacher took us to Bun Bo Nam Bo and ordered me a vegetarian version of the beef noodle salad, a southern Vietnamese dish. For just over £1 (slightly less is you order it vegetarian, ‘Chay’, style), you’ll get a huge bowl of steaming noodles, vegetables and strips of beef swimming in a tasty broth.
Bun Bo Nam Bo can be found in the Old Quarter in one of the traditional long, thin tubular houses. Order at the front of the shop where the chef cooks everything up in a big cauldron, then find a seat on a tiny plastic stool while someone does the washing up on the floor behind you. I’ve since taken visiting friends to this place with great results; given that it’s recommended by the guidebooks and is rated highly on Tripadvisor you’ll find a lot of Westerners there amongst the Vietnamese crowds.
Where is Bun Bo Nam Bo? 67 Hang Dieu, Hoan Kiem
Salt n’ Lime
This Mexican place quickly became a favourite of ours when we arrived in Hanoi. Located in the less hectic and polluted expat area of Tay Ho, the restaurant sits right next to the picturesque West Lake. These days we like to get out of the Old Quarter for at least part of the weekend and West Lake has become one of our favourite places to go. The menu here is small and simple; chips and dips, nachos, burritos, tacos and salads. There’s fresh lime juice or beer to wash everything down with and of course tequila shots are available if you’re so inclined.
The food at Salt n’ Lime feels fresh and healthy, the chips are baked, the wraps are stuffed with fresh veggies and the salsa, guacamole and sour cream dips are homemade. We usually order the mango salsa and sour cream to go with our grande portion of chips for about £3, which we then have to divide exactly so that we don’t fight over who gets more! I love the gringo tacos which are just over £1 each. They may be slightly less healthy than the Mexican version because they have cheese and sour cream in them but they’re delicious.
Where is Salt n’ Lime? 6 Tu Hoa (6/1 Au Co) Tay Ho.
TET Décor Café
Also in West Lake, this café is set over three floors and gives great views over the water. The menu is ridiculously healthy with vegetarian and gluten-free options as well free-range egg dishes, raw salads, homemade soups and grilled meat and fish dishes. Ingredients are fresh and the fruit juices and smoothies are pure and tasty with no extra sugars; you can also opt for a slightly less healthy chocolate shake if you want.
TET Décor is full of comfy, stylish furniture and is often stuffed with expats. It gets very busy at the weekends but if you can get a table on a balcony overlooking the lake it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The menu may be slightly more expensive (main meals cost on average around £4.50), but you’re paying for quality, healthy food which is freshly prepared.
Where is TET Décor Café? Villa 36 Tu Hoa, Nghi Tam Village, West Lake (Tay Ho).
Tran Phu Street Market
Although we eat out on average twice a week, we cook most of our meals at home in our apartment. We live right near Tran Phu Street, close to the Old Quarter so we visit the daily market to buy ingredients for our home-cooked meals. The market is busiest in the mornings with dozens of fruit and veg stalls alongside tables selling meat, bowls with live fish in them as well as piles of clothes and bunches of flowers. Everything is very cheap from the market, we buy a week’s worth of fruit and veg for under £3; we also stock up on eggs which cost 10p each and large bottles of mineral water for 80p.
Where is Tran Phu Street Market? Tran Phu Street, Ba Dinh.