A Self-guided Food Tour in Saigon, from the Experts
With a plethora of guided food tours available in what is becoming one of the hottest food destinations in the world, Saigon, we decided to create a self-guided version. Rent a scooter, or download the grab app and start exploring by yourself! Our food tour is meant to include the widest range of Vietnamese food that is on offer in Vietnam’s most dynamic and exciting cities. This is a self paced food tour, and includes restaurants and small eateries for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
If you aren’t ready to read through our detailed reviews, just click this link or the map below and get started!
Breakfast in Saigon
There are three main Vietnamese dishes that we recommend for breakfast in Saigon: Banh Mi, Bánh cuốn and Pho. These are the most popular spots in the city for locals. If you happen to be looking for western style breakfast spot, check out our article on the best breakfast spots in Saigon.
1. Bánh cuốn
Bánh Cuốn is essentially a roll, composed of a delicate rice sheet, which is steamed, and traditionally stuffed with minced pork and wood-ear mushrooms and topped with fried shallots and boiled sprouts. However, our favorite in the morning is Bánh Cuốn Trường, which is the egg version. The eggs are added when the rice batter is steaming, steamed eggs? With a douse of fish sauce (ideally mixed with raw garlic) on top and you have yourself a quintessential Vietnamese breakfast. The map to our favorite Banh Cuon spot is below, the average price for the Banh Cuon with egg is about 40-50K
2. Pho (Phở) with a poached egg
The idea of a hot noodle soup with beef in it might not awaken your interest if you have eaten cereal, pancakes and eggs your whole life. But this is your chance to step out of your comfort zone. The added delight of a poached egg (poached in the broth) makes for the perfect blend, with the egg yolk beautifully. Our favorite place is Pho Dau, this is a very famous Northern-style pho which is about 30-40% more expensive than your average Pho spot, but for good reason. Average price: 90K. See the map below for the location. This is a real gem on our food tour, just make sure to get there before 8AM.
3. Banh Mi Op La
One of the most famous items of Vietnamese food, ubiquitous around the world is of course the irreplaceable Banh Mi. Add two fried eggs, layered with fresh herbs, pickled carrots and radish, pate and some squirts of soy sauce and you have yourself one of the world’s best breakfast sandwiches. Most options are street food stands which means you will have to order it, or eat it while standing in the street, with a few exceptions. Our two favorites include one traditional food stall with a special sauce, and one is a more modern food stall with eco-friendly packaging. We order one of both almost weekly.
Our two favorites:
Banh Mi Grandma Lu (for eco-friendly packaging & great consistency)
Banh Mi Cha Ca Nha Trang (Very traditional stall with their own special sauce)
☕Want some coffee along the way? See our favorite coffee shops
Ready for Lunch?
Now that you finished exploring the war museum, the independence palace or the temples in District 5 you are probably starving and are ready to continue the culinary tour. Lunch in Saigon can range from traditional Cơm Trưa (rice lunch sets), noodle dishes and a whole lot more variety. Our recommendations include a bit of everything, including a few spots we go wo almost every week.
1. Hanoi-style Lunch – Béo Ơi Quán
Beo Oi Quan is just fantastic, in every way we can describe. It’s located in a charming little alley, with stylish decore and serving proper home-made northern style food. This place gets absolutely rammed at lunch time, we recommend showing up before noon, ideally at 11:45 AM. If you don’t plan on going to Hanoi, this is one of the more authentic northern-style restaurants.
Our favorite Dishes
Chân giò giả cày (duck stew)
Bún bò Nam Bộ (like a fusion of Bun Cha and Bun Bo)
Chả ốc (pork and snail meatballs stuffed in bamboo)
Ngan cháy tỏi (fried northern goose with garlic)
Bún riêu cua (Tomato-crab soup with tofu)
Xôi Xéo – Xôi Thập Cẩm (sticky rice with mung bean and stewed pork meat)
2. Mi Quang – Danang-style Noodles
Mi Quang has always been our favorite lunch staple in Vietnam. It’s tough to find an authentic Mi Quang spot outside of Danang but we think we found a place that meets most expectations.
For those uninitiated, Mi Quang is a textural adventure packed with flavor. The yellow rice noodles rest on a think chicken broth, usually served with chicken, pork, a prawn and some quail eggs. Its commonly eaten with rice crackers and fresh herbs making it a textural and flavorful delight.
A note from the author: this is a work in progress, we will update this list regularly. For the most up to date locations please see our map