Following are Hanoi restaurants which should not be missed, in the admittedly biased view of one avid consumer of Vietnamese food. On weekends, reservations are recommended.
Food is arguably the very best experience of a trip to Vietnam. Vietnamese cuisine is light, not overly greasy, emphasizes fresh vegetables and herbs, and uses sauces and flavorings that are tangy but not heavily spicy.
Au Lac Cafe
57 Ly Thai To
Just behind the Metropole hotel, outdoor cafe with wonderful ambience, mixed menu offering western and Vietnamese food as well as drinks and snacks.
26 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Indoor and outdoor sections; a lunch-time buffet including specialities served street-vendor style that should not be missed.
Cha Ca La Vong
14 Cha Ca
“Cha ca” is a specialty dish, fish cooked in a hot pot with dill and eaten with noodles. If you are a seafood lover it is worth a try.
81 Tho Nhuom
Training school for disadvantaged youth. Good French and Vietnamese cuisine at rock-bottom prices. Bakery next-door has French pastries.
16 Nam Ngu
If you go nowhere else, go here. A beautiful old villa-style house with an interior courtyard, converted for indoor and outdoor dining. Beautifully cooked and presented dishes representing the best of local cuisine. Be sure to order the banana flower salad!
19 Phan Chu Trinh
Another example of lovely ambience and fine Vietnamese food.
Seasons of Hanoi
95B Quan Thanh
Probably one of the most expensive up-scale Vietnamese restaurants in town, although still reasonable by western standards. A very enjoyable and refined dining experience.
15 Hang Cot
Another don’t-miss. Walk up to the second floor of a small commercial building to reach this popular restaurant. Beautiful decor and musical entertainment on classical Vietnamese instruments. Menu includes specialities from Hue and overall the food is excellent. Have the Hue pancakes.
For those who aren’t Asian food fans or just need a break, try the following for decent western fare:
23 Hai Ba Trung
Australian proprietor. Good ribs, pizza, mexican dishes. A nice get-away.
Hot Rock Cafe
11A1 Giang Vo
Eye-boggling menu. Decent pizza.
14-16 Nha Tho
Near Hanoi’s old cathedral. Trendy atmosphere and mixed western-Vietnamese menu. Reportedly serves a mean blueberry pancake for breakfast. Very popular spot for expats and Vietnamese.
Press Club Deli
59A Ly Thai To, ground floor
The place to be at lunch time to see who’s who in Hanoi. Good menu, great deli/bakery counter.
Red Onion Bistro
49 Hai Ba Trung
In the Hanoi Towers apartment building. Huge burgers and other dishes done nicely by an expat chef. Spacious booths, great atmosphere, good views of the city.0