The best local restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City are legendary establishments that have stood the test of time, offering authentic and satisfying meals at incredibly attractive prices. As a first-time visitor, it can be quite a challenge to go where the locals eat as most are actually dingy-looking food stalls within Saigon’s lively street markets or open-air restaurants hidden in narrow alleyways.
The majority of Saigon’s restaurants focus on one local speciality, which is usually included in their signage. Despite the roadside setting and lack of air-conditioning, they are often packed with locals and tourists looking to enjoy tasty yet inexpensive treats such as banh mi, pho noodles, and banh xeo. If you’re looking to embark on a foodie adventure during your Vietnam holiday, check out our list of Saigon’s top restaurants for local dishes.
Nguyen Thi Thanh (The Lunch Lady)District 1
Unlike many local restaurants in this list, Nguyen Thi Tanh (or Lunch Lady) only cooks one dish per day, changing the dish according to the day. Set along Hoang Sa Street, this food stall has been operating for more than a decade with locals flocking there for its goi cuon (summer rolls) and bun Thai (Vietnamese-Thai noodle soup). Priced at VND 40,000, bun Thai is only served on Mondays, comprising rice noodles in a sweet sour broth, topped with generous amounts of pre-blanched shrimps, beef slices, squid rings, chopped herbs, and assorted vegetables. Nguyen Thi Tanh is located in District 1, close to the river and a 10-minute walk from the Saigon Zoo. Due to its popularity, make sure you get there early as the stall closes once it runs out of ingredients.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 09:00 – 15:00
- Address: 23 Hoang Sa Street, Phuong Da Kao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
- Cuisine: Noodle Soups
Banh Mi 37District 5
A simple food cart that’s set along Nguyen Trai, Banh Mi 37 is one of the best places in the city to get your hands on Vietnam’s uniquely fusion street food. Priced at VND 17,000, its signature nem nuong banh mi is a crispy baguette sandwich with several charcoal-grilled pork patties, tangy sauce, cucumbers, cilantro, green onions, Vietnamese pickles, and topped with sweet chili sauce. Although Banh Mi 37 officially opens at 17:00 every day, it’s not surprising to see a long queue forming as early as 16:00 but it’s definitely well worth the wait.
- Opening Hours: Daily 16:00 – Late
- Address: 37 Nguyen Trai, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City
- Cuisine: Vietnamese Baguettes
Nhu Lan SaigonDistrict 1
Nhu Lan Saigon’s speciality lies within its pre-packaged banh mi sandwiches, but a wide range of Vietnamese desserts, smoothies, pork buns, and patesto (French-style pastry with pork filling are also available. Open 24 hours daily, the local bakery is set opposite the Bitexco Financial Tower in District 1. Try the banh mi thit patem which is a baguette sandwich filled with pork-liver paté, pork ham slices, mayonnaise, pickled carrots and radishes, cucumber, fresh cilantro, and sliced chilli. While Nhu Lan Saigon has an indoor dining area, many locals order banh mi for takeaway or simply enjoying it by the roadside.
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Address: 50-64-68 Ham Nghi Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
- Tel: +84 83 829 2970
- Cuisine: Vietnamese Baguettes
Banh Xeo 46ADistrict 1
As the name suggests, Banh Xeo 46A specialises in the traditional Vietnamese rice-flour crepe, which is served with huge portions of pork, shrimp, diced onions, mung beans, and bean sprouts, as well as a side of raw leafy vegetables and herbs. As these are made to order, vegetarian options are also available here. Banh Xeo 46A is just a brief walk away from Le Van Tam Park, drawing a loyal following amongst locals who reside and work within the area. Besides banh xeo, Banh Xeo 46A also serves summer rolls (goi cuon) and spring rolls (cha goi), chicken wings and fried calamari rings, as well as cheap local beer.
- Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 21:00
- Address: 46A Dinh Cong Trang, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
- Tel: +84 83 824 1110
- Cuisine: Vietnamese Crepes
Pho Hoa PasteurDistrict 3
Pho Hoa Pasteur has a steady following amongst the local population for serving arguably the best pho noodles in Ho Chi Minh City since 1968. Today, it's set within a two-storey building just across the street from the Pasteur Institute. A bowl of pho at Pho Hoa Pasteur costs about VND 45,000, comprising homemade rice noodles in a clear broth, topped with beef slices, scallions, and cilantro.To complement the pho noodles, each table has platters of fresh herbs, chilli and lime, gio chao quay (fried Chinese bread), banh xu xe (glutinous coconut cakes with mung-bean paste), and cha lua (pork-paste sausages wrapped in banana leaves). Pho Hoa Pasteur also serves a selection of Vietnamese coffee, soft drinks, and Vietnamese dessert.
- Address: 260C Pasteur Street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
- Tel: +84 83 829 7943
- Cuisine: Noodle Soup