Pho Gia Truyen – Old Quarter
If there is one dish you must eat during your trip to Vietnam, it’s a steaming bowl of phở bò. No dish is more synonymous with Vietnamese cuisine than this delicious beef noodle soup. And in Hanoi, the most famous pho bo joint is Phở Gia Truyền Bát Đàn, or just Pho Gia Truyen as it is typically referred to.
It’s easy to spot this unassuming little pho restaurant due to the long queue of hungry locals waiting patiently for a bowl of soup. The restaurant consists of just a counter for ordering and a dozen or so squat metal tables for patrons to share while slurping down their noodles.
Ordering is simple since the only thing on the menu is beef pho. The only decision you’ll need to make is what cut of beef you want in your soup: bò chín (sliced well-done brisket), bò tái (sliced rare tenderloin), or nạm (flank).
And the best part is the price – a bowl of pho at this long-standing Hanoi institution will set you back just 50,000 VND or ~ $2.20.
Nick & Val from Wandering Wheatleys
Chusa Vietnamese Cuisine – Au Trieu Street, Old Quarter
If you’re looking for a slightly more up-scale dining experience in Hanoi Old Quarter, Chusa Vietnamese Cuisine is an excellent choice. The location on Au Trieu Street in the heart of the city makes it the perfect spot for a mid-day break from sightseeing or souvenir shopping. Sit upstairs on the balcony, which directly overlooks the magnificent St. Joseph’s Cathedral.
The menu, like the décor, is clean, fresh and modern. Each dish is prepared with immaculate attention to detail and beautifully presented on traditional Vietnamese ceramics. Sharing plates include moreish lotus chips, and there’s an entire menu devoted to spring rolls. For mains, ‘Grilled Beef in a Bamboo Tube’ is one of Chusa’s specialties. Cooked in a fragrant sauce and served in a piece of bamboo, it’s quite unlike anything else I’ve eaten in Hanoi. Another signature dish is the water spinach tempura, which matches Japanese techniques with local ingredients. Vegetarian options are available, and wine, beer and cocktails are also served.
Prices are a little higher but still very reasonable. Expect to pay around 100,000 VND for a sharing plate or 135,000 VND for a main. Chusa is open daily from 10am to 10pm – advanced bookings can be made through their website.
Emily from WanderLush
Grandma’s Restaurant – Hoan Kiem District
Located in the centre of the Old Quarter in Hanoi, Grandma’s Restaurant is a beautifully appointed choice if you are looking for something special and traditional while you are in Hanoi. They base their cooking style on traditional northern Vietnam and serve everything from seafood to beef to chicken and duck. They can also adapt meals to be vegetarian.
There are no wrong choices on their menu – everything is great! When we visited, I enjoyed the traditional roast duck, while my 11 year old son loved their grilled chicken with lemongrass. Both were generous in size and delicious. I also enjoyed a sneaky glass of white wine.
The restaurant itself is spotlessly clean with a number of different ‘rooms’ in which diners can enjoy the ambience of the venue. On the evening we went, it was humid, and we had had a long day, so we chose the cellar room, but if the weather is more kind, I would recommend the terrace! The staff are very attentive and friendly.
Address: 6A Duong Thanh St, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Janine from Get Out with Kids
Bun Bo Hue O Xuan – Cầu Giấy
Small clean shop serving excellent food from Hue, the capital of Vietnam and where the Imperial City can be found.
Due to its unique spot serving the kings of Vietnam for over 400 years, the cuisine developed here has its own special characteristics.
Bun Bo Hue is one of the most beloved dished that comes from Hue, and you can expect to find pork meat, slices of beef, probably a beef pie and our favourite, pig’s blood.
Yes, it sounds strange, but the blood has been treated to become like a pudding, and some call it pig’s blood curd.
The taste is quite mild, but it enhances the entire profile of the broth and is a must try if you are having Bun Bo Hue.
The dish is served with rice vermicelli and piping hot beef broth, topped with a bunch of fresh herbs and leaves.
It is certainly not for the faint hearted, but absolutely worth a try. In any case, if you don’t want the curd, the rest of the dish is an excellent crowd pleaser.
Price for small bowl: 30k VND = US$1.30
Address: 107 Trung Hòa, Yên Hoà, Cầu Giấy, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Shang from ZipUp&Go travel blog
The Note Coffee – Old Quarter
In the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, just north of Hoan Kiem Lake you will find the uber quirky and colourful The Note Coffee.
This fun cafe is typical of Hanoi’s buildings, a tiny 4 storey affair, but this place certainly has a difference. Every available space is covered in post-it notes professing profound (usually) messages of love, travel, philosophy or simple greetings and signatures.
Order an egg coffee (it’s like a meringue crossed with coffee, served hot and frothy and AMAZING) from the friendly staff who will provide you with your own pen and paper for you to immortalise your Hanoi visit on the crowded walls.
The very unique Note Coffee boasts super cool views of one of Hanoi’s busiest intersections and the tranquil lake beyond and it is such a special place. If you visit Hanoi, it is an absolute must. It is open everyday from 8am until midnight. And like everything in Vietnam, prices are nice and cheap.
Kris from Gadsventure
Cua Dong – Hoàn Kiếm District
Cha Ca La Vong – Hoàn Kiếm District
Cha Ca La Vong is an institution amongst Hanoi’s restaurants, and is still open at the same location, and run by the same family, after 5 generations.
The restaurant specialises in the one delicious dish, “Cha Ca”, which simply means grilled fish. The fish used in this famous dish is a type of large catfish (ca lang) that inhabits the rivers of northern Vietnam.
To prepare the dish, the fish is first cut into bite-sized pieces then marinated in a spice mix that includes galangal and turmeric, adding the distinctive flavour and colour.
The fish is lightly grilled in the kitchen, before being transferred to the table in a pan and placed on top of a small burner. Here, the waiter will mix in spring onion and dill to the fish until the ingredients are hot and cooked through.
To complete the meal, the cooked fish is served with a bowl of springy rice noodles, peanuts, coriander, shrimp paste, and a fish dipping sauce, a combination which is both uniquely tasty and pleasingly textural.
Prices are set at 170,000 vnd per person, which is on the more expensive side for stand-alone dishes for Vietnam, but worth the price to enjoy a tasty fish dish alongside a piece of Hanoi history at the same time.
Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Markus from The Roaming Fork
I remember my first day in Hanoi. I was nervous, uncertain, and slightly terrified to exit the front doors of my hotel and onto the busy streets of the bustling Old Quarter. But upon leaving the comfort of my temporary abode, I crossed the street and could smell this place instantly. I wandered inside of Pho 10 and sat down, ready to try my first pho in Vietnam.
The inside was busy, with two cooks rapidly chopping and prepping meat. There weren’t any menus, just a friendly server who asked, “chicken or beef?” I made my order of beef pho for a grand total of $1.50 and within 10 minutes was served a hot, vibrant, and flavorful bowl of this magical soup. Upon my first slurp, I knew 2 things: the first was that everything was going to be just fine on my first trip to Southeast Asia, and also that I was hooked on pho.
It was the perfect combination of noodles, broth, beef, ginger, lime, cilantro, chilies, and more. I had many bowls of this delightful soup during my time in Vietnam, but by far, Pho 10 was the best.
Kat from Worldwide Honeymoon
Café Kinh Đô – Hàng Bông
This unassuming family-run café is an institution in Hanoi, dating from the 1980s. Best known for its delicious homemade French patisseries, quiche and yogurt, it also serves a myriad of other dishes both European and Vietnamese. Kinh Đô is old-style, a corner of authentic Hanoi, among a crush of indifferent fastfood joints that all blend into one another.
Don’t be put off by the simplicity of the place, its tried and tested recipes have been delighting Hanoians and visitors for over 30 years which has got to say something in a booming town like Hanoi.
The décor hasn’t changed since I first frequented the café in the early 1990s. It proudly displays photos of the original owner, Mr Chi (who lived till the age of 99 and had so many stories to tell) with Catherine Deneuve.
The café was her hangout while filming Oscar-winning Indochine in 1991, when it was pretty much the only place to get yogurt and good French cakes. Come here for a genuine experience, good coffee, excellent yogurt, proper French croissants and friendly service.
Phoebe from Lou Messugo
A massive thank you to all of these bloggers for their suggestions! What is your favourite place to eat in Hanoi? Let me know in the comments below!