A Street Food & Drink Guide to Tân Định, one of Saigon’s best kept secrets.
Saigon’s District 3 was recently named one of the 50 coolest neighborhoods in the world by TimeOut Magazine, and it’s not hard to see why.
1. The porridge ladies
Tân Định is teeming with the types of no-frills hangouts and street food stalls hidden behind traffic that make the city great. As one could devote volumes to charting all the places worth eating and drinking around District 3, why not start with one of its most vibrant sub-neighborhoods: Tân Định.
While it straddles the border of District 1 and District 3, Tân Định’s District 3 side packs in an impressive roster of street food and low-key hangouts in a fairly small (dare I even say walkable?) area. For housekeeping’s sake, let’s be clear on our geography—we’ll draw our border from the iconic Pink Church on Hai Ba Trung and stretch eastward along the canal-side street of Hoang Sa, with a swath of real estate in between.
Leading things off is a late-night favorite. At the cross-section deep in an alley off of Trần Khắc Chân Street is a bowl of rice porridge to top them all at Cháo sườn Bà Hào. The setup is simple: start with a thick porridge base and choose from the bounty of cuts of meat lovingly on display. The options are plentiful, but if you need an idea of where to start, the pork meatballs with an egg added in at the end is a time-tested favorite. Topped it with crunchy greens, a generous squeeze of lime, and buttery pieces of bread, it’s a local favorite surely due in no small part to the stand’s wise-cracking overseers.
Price: 40 – 45K
🕞 17:00 – 01:00 | 📍109/15 Trần Khắc Chân, Tân Định, Quận 1
2. Saigon Poto: beers on the canal
For an after-dinner drink, venture to the canal and take in Saigon Poto, a cafe and bar decked out with old-school furniture serving up cheap cocktails and beers. Marked by a bright-yellow tuk tuk, Poto finds its home on a curve of Hoang Sa and is packed with a young, relaxed crowd taking in the bustling neighborhood. This bar is as casual as they come, making it an ideal spot for a last-minute nightcap.
7:30 – 23:00 | 147 Hoàng Sa, Tân Định, Quận 1
3. Bánh Canh Cua 87
When it comes to Tân Định’s most lively dinner spots, Bánh Canh Cua 87 is somewhat of an institution. The restaurant, marked by a bright blue awning and staff sprinting and shouting, is nearly always packed. Get there before 8 PM to ensure a bowl, because what they’re serving up is worth the hype. Brave the crowds for a bowl of rich broth, thick, tapioca noodles packed with crab, shrimp, and fish. Don’t skip out on the buttery pieces of bread served on the side to soak it all up.
15:00 – 22:00 | 87 Trần Khắc Chân, Tân Định, Quận 1
4. Cafe 81, vintage meets hipster.
While Saigon has a cafe for all tastes, when it comes to vintage coffee joints serving up no-frills cups of Cà phê den da and Cà phê sữa, Tân Định can’t be beat. To get a taste of this, stop in at 81 Cafe. The dimly-lit cafe is brimming with all things old world, from paintings and photos to clocks and analog cameras. Beat the heat during the day or come by at night to sit on the lush terrace with a beer overlooking the hustle down the street from Tân Định Market. Read our full review of Cafe 81.
Coffee: 30-40K Beer: 40K
7:30 – 22:30 | 28 Nguyễn Hữu Cầu, P, Quận 1
5. Phở Hai, street Phở at its finest.
When midnight rolls around and it seems as though you’ve missed your chance for the neighborhood’s street food scene, there’s one last street corner to turn to. Phở Hai sets up low tables and stools late into the night, serving up a satisfying bowl to match. They specialize in south-Vietnam style beef Phở with no frills. The broth is light and slightly sweet and filled with tender beef and a generous portion of fresh greens. Regularly crowded past midnight, it’s always a reliable end to the day in Tân Định.
17:00 – 00:00 (varies) | 68 Trần Khánh Dư, Tân Định