In 2016, CNN channel affectionately recognized Saigon as the capital of Vietnamese cuisine. In Saigon, you can find the best dishes from all regions of Vietnam: the North, the Central, and the South. The natives in Saigon have been accustomed to eating food at local places instead of going to a restaurant. As a traveler, if you want to try out the local places instead of touristy places, check out these local places to eat in Saigon.
Places to Eat in Saigon for Breakfast
Saigonese start their morning early to leave for school or work, so people tend to quickly grab banh mi or xoi (sticky rice) as breakfast. Nonetheless, it is also possible to enjoy the morning slower with an icy ca phe sua da after some pho or broken rice.
Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguettes)
With witty creativity and a strong passion for food, the Vietnamese have successfully renovated the French baguette into the world-renowned banh mi. The secret to a good banh mi lies in the warm and crunchy bread, savory paté, and ridiculously good fillings. A big bite of banh mi offers a heavenly buttery and savory taste, not to mention the fresh cucumbers and cilantro, and the crispy sound of freshly baked baguettes, which will satisfy all your senses.
Banh mi Hoa Ma
Address: 53 Cao Thang Street, Ward 3, District 3
Opening time: 6 AM – 11 AM
Price range: VND 32,000 – VND 54,000
A full set of Banh mi Hoa Ma
Opened in 1958, banh mi Hoa Ma arguably invented banh mi in the “sandwich style” we have today. At that time, most of their customers were students and blue-collar workers, so nobody had the time to sit back and enjoy their meal. Consequently, the owners devised the solution to put all the meat and paté inside the bread to serve the people in their rush. Now, you can have their banh mi in both styles, either as a takeaway sandwich or from the sizzling pans on the table.
Banh mi Huynh Hoa
Address: 26 Le Thi Rieng Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, District 1
Opening time: 6 AM – 10 PM
Price range: VND 65,000/piece
Com Tam (Broken Rice)
The rustic com tam is served with many ingredients on top of the rice. There are suon nuong (marinated pork chops) garnished with mo hanh (scallions and oil), cha trung (steam egg meatloaf), bi (shredded pork skin), fried egg, and some pickles. The dish is only completed with a special fish sauce drizzled. Besides the basic com tam suon nuong, you can also choose com tam ga (grilled chicken), com tam cha ca (grilled fish cakes), and com tam thit ba roi (grilled bacon).
Com tam Ba Ghien
Address: 84 Dang Van Ngu, Ward 10, Phu Nhuan District
Opening time: 7:30 AM to 9:30 PM
Price range: VND 50,000 – VND 83,000
Com tam An Duong Vuong
Address: 502 An Duong Vuong Street, District 3
Opening time: 7 AM to 9:30 PM
Price range: VND 50,000 – VND 100,000
Places to Eat in Saigon for Lunch
Vietnamese prefer to have a big lunch at home with their family members. On the table, besides the rice, a must-have in any Vietnamese meal, there are certain kinds of soup, such as canh chua (Vietnamese sour soup) and some braised pork or braised fish. Having said that, if family meals are not your forté, there is a wide selection of Vietnamese lunches you can choose from.
Bun Thit Nuong (Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Pork)
Similar to com tam, bun thit nuong is another delicacy with grilled pork. However, the main carb is rice vermicelli, and the pork is meat skewers cooked over hot charcoal. This is probably one of the most “travel-friendly” dishes, as there isn’t a strong dipping sauce or a pungent smell.
Bun thit nuong Chi Tuyen
Address: 175C Co Giang Street, District 1
Opening time: 6 AM to 9 PM
Price range: VND 70,000
Bun Bo Hue (Hue’s Beef Noodle)
Bun bo Hue is a precious gem from Central Vietnam – the one dish that can proudly compete with the internationally famous pho. Its smell and taste are much stronger (spicier and saltier) than pho because of mam ruoc (small shrimp paste). Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with the pungent smell; any skillful bun bo maker will know how to strike a balance with the help of spices like lemongrass. A bowl of bun bo used to be quite simple with a few slices of beef. The modern version of bun bo is accompanied with several options like chewy huyet (blood cakes), crunchy cha ca (fish cakes) or cha cua (crab cakes), and the soft and juicy mong heo (pig foot) or gio heo (pig shank).
Bun bo Hue Ut Hung
Address: 113 Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Ward 6, District 3
Opening time: 7 AM – 10:30 PM
Price: VND 50,000
Bun bo Hue Nhan Tri
Address: 295 Le Hong Phong Street, District 10
Opening time: 6 AM to 11 PM
Price range: VND 60,000 – VND 80,000
Bun Rieu (Crab Noodle Soup)
Among the significant number of noodles in Vietnam, bun rieu is the hidden treasure. It is cooked from a complex mixture of crab pasted, pieces of tofu, shellfish, and tomatoes, which add a unique, slightly sour kick to the broth. Bun rieu across Vietnam may have different ingredients, but their taste is still similar. It is usually enjoyed with some vegetables and mam tom – the stinky but delicious paste, and a squeeze of lime juice to keep a balance and give the soup the signature citrusy taste.
Bun Rieu Ganh
Location: 4 Phan Boi Chau Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
Opening time: 9:30 AM – 7 PM
Price: VND 50,000
Outside of Bun Rieu Ganh
The standard bowl of Bun rieu
Places to Eat in Saigon for Dinner
Same with lunch, dinner with family members at home is the best rejuvenating medicine after a tiring day in Vietnamese belief. However, if there is too little time to cook, people would also love to dine out. Here are a few dishes and places to eat in Saigon in the evening.
Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepe)
Banh xeo, a famous food across Vietnam, has a good many of savory fillings: slices of cooked pork, spawns and bean sprouts. The word “xeo” describes the sizzling sound in Vietnamese when the batter hits the heated pan. Banh xeo is served with a plate full of vegetables. Use some vegetables to wrap a small piece of banh xeo and don’t be afraid of getting your hand dirty dip it straight up in the sweet and sour fish sauce to have a “finger-licking good” experience.
46A Dinh Cong Trang
Address: 46A Dinh Cong Trang, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1
Opening time: 10 AM – 2 PM and 4 PM – 9 PM
Price range: VND 80,000 – VND 135,000
Banh xeo Ngoc Son
Address: 103 Ngo Quyen Street, District 3
Opening time: 9 AM to 9 PM
Price range: VND 50,000 – VND 100,000
Other Names of Local Places to Eat in Saigon
1. Pho Hoa (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Pho Hoa is reputable; almost all Saigon citizens know about this store. The restaurant and their authentic Northern pho’s taste have been handed down from generation to generation since the 1970s.
Address: 260C Pasteur Street, Ward 8, District 1
Opening time: 7 AM – 10 PM every day
Price range: VND 70,000 – 80,000
2. Pho Le
Pho Le adapts their recipe to suit Southerners’ tastes with a sweeter soup base. It was first established in the 1960s, and this is one of the best places to eat pho in Ho Chi Minh City.
A bowl of Pho Le
413 – 415 Nguyen Trai Street, Ward 7, District 5
Opening time: 6 AM – 1 AM (the next day)
Price range: VND 90,000
3. Hu Tieu & Banh Bao Ca Can (Noodle Soup & Steamed Buns)
Ca Can has been famous in Saigon for many decades. The Ca Can brand has been well-known since it first appeared in the 1970s when Mr. Ca Can and his wife were civil servants before opening this store.
Hu tieu Ca Can
Besides Hu Tieu, you can also enjoy Banh Bao (steamed buns) Ca Can. They offer various kinds of filling for the steamed buns. The guests can choose ground meat, boiled quail eggs, salted duck eggs, or char siu (a type of barbecued pork).
Address: 213 – 215 Nguyen Tri Phuong, Ward 9, District 5 (at the intersection of Nguyen Tri Phuong and Hung Vuong Street)
Opening time: 6 AM to 2 AM
Hu Tieu: VND 65,000 – VND 85,000
Banh bao: VND 35,000+
4. Com Tam Thuan Kieu (Broken Rice)
Com Tam Thuan Kieu is one of the biggest restaurant chains of Broken Rice in Saigon. Established before 1975, the brand has expanded to nearly ten outlets in Saigon. Visitors are often surprised by the huge slices of grilled meat. Despite being famous for the Broken Rice, Com Tam Thuan Kieu also offers a variety of Vietnamese family meals. A vegetarian option is available to be paired with broken rice.
A plate of Broken Rice at Com Tam Thuan Kieu with various combo toppings
Centrally located addresses:
26 Ton That Tung Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1
114 Yersin Street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, Districts 1
Opening time: 10 AM – 8 PM (hours of specific stores vary)
Price range: VND 30,000 – VND 100,000
5. Ngo 8
If you want to taste the North in Saigon, make your way to Ngo 8. The humble restaurant serves many of Hanoi’s signatures, including bun dau mam tom and pho rolls. Their most famous dish is crab past hotpot (lau rieu cua). This is the one place to go to for a meal like the locals.
Some Hanoi dishes at the restaurants
8 Cu Lao Street, Phu Nhuan District
57 Vo Van Tan Street, District 3
Opening time: 3 PM – 11:30 PM
Price range: VND 50,000 – VND 300,000
6. Banh Canh/Banh Trang Trang Bang Hoang Ty (Rice Noodle/Rice Paper)
Hoang Ty Restaurant has become a familiar brand with Saigon citizens. This chain of restaurants specializes in the traditional dishes from Trang Bang, Tay Ninh – a province in Vietnam. The restaurant’s two specialties are rice noodles (banh canh) and rice paper (banh trang).
Address: 70 – 72 Vo Van Tan, Ward 6, District 3
Opening time: 9 AM to 10 PM
Price range: VND 50,000 – VND 160,000 per person
Summary of Local Places to Eat in Saigon
Saigon is well-known not only for its history but also for its diversified cuisines. Saigon locals are considered to be a connoisseur of food places. Stop by one of these local places to eat in Saigon for your off-the-beaten-path travel experience. Check out more wonderful foods, drinks, and where to find them in Saigon here!