May 21 2013

Saigon’s best Western restaurants

Published by at 8:48 am under Food

If you’ve been travelling for an extended period, you may hanker for a taste of the West rather than chowing down on local cuisine for yet another meal. In the last year Ho Chi Minh has been flooded with fast food joints, but if you’re craving a meal that reminds you of home — you don’t have to stoop to those levels. Here are a few places that are worth a visit in Saigon instead.

You're going to need a napkin.

You’re going to need a napkin.

One of the more popular Western spots in HCMC is Al Fresco’s and for good reason. With several locations sprinkled throughout the city, including a few in District 1, chances are you’ll find a restaurant close to where you are in the city. The menu here is heavy on Italian food with a solid selection of large-portioned pastas and popular pizzas, which are stand out from the competition because they use plenty of cheese. Although they have a solid Italian reputation, Al Fresco’s might be home to the city’s best ribs, which are slow-baked and tender. Prices are higher than your average Saigon restaurant, with mains starting around 150,000 VND, but for the portions and quality, especially compared to Pham Ngu Lao Western spots, it’s one of the better value joints in District 1. Check out the delivery menu, which has some special deals, like two for one pizza on Tuesday.

Sometimes nothing can beat scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Sometimes nothing can beat scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Worth the 20-minute taxi ride out of District 1, Scott and Binh’s is as close as you can get in Saigon to a hometown diner. A simple looking spot with some fancy purple chairs, Scott and Binh’s sports a big menu packed with a range of Western favourites, from pastas and burgers to Mexican and steak. I’m a big fan of their burgers, especially their monster-sized royale with cheese.

On weekdays, the restaurant only serves dinner from 16:00, but on weekends it adds an 11:00 to 15:00 brunch with an expanded menu of breakfast foods, with the scrambles being a great choice. The portion sizes here seem a little ridiculous; most burgers have two patties and the nachos are piled high. Dishes start at around 150,000 VND, again making it a pricier-than-average spot. But even more so than the food, what really makes this restaurant special is their service. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get a chance to meet Scott himself who does a fantastic job hosting and making small talk around the restaurant.

Salads done right.

Salads done right.

If you’re looking for something a little simpler, L’Usine is a great Western-style cafe that serves breakfast and lunch. A modern, trendy, hipster-ish restaurant with two central District 1 locations, L’Usine is the place to go for sandwiches and salads, which stand out due to the freshness of the ingredients. They also have a decent but limited menu of breakfast foods, like omelettes and French toast, and mains, like pastas and quiches. And this is where to find some of Saigon’s best desserts, particularly their baked goods. The only drawback to L’Usine is that they stop serving most food on the menu after 17:00, switching to just drinks and cheese plates. More than a cafe, it’s also a fine place to relax and enjoy the free WiFi and work on your laptop. Slightly cheaper than the other guys on this list, dishes here start at around 100,000 VND. Once you’re done eating, cruise their shop, which sells fashionable clothes, handbags and wacky electronics.

Al Fresco’s
19-21 Mac Dinh Chi, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 3823 8427

Scott and Binh’s
15-17 Cao Trieu Phat, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (09) 4890 1465

151 Dong Khoi, 1st floor
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
T: (08) 6674 3565

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Saigon’s best Western restaurants”

  1. Violetson 28 May 2013 at 1:25 pm

    And how about that great deli in Hai Ba Trung st? They have cheese and terrific bread and great pate. You can buy a picnic.

  2. Paulon 06 Jun 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I noticed a few more western restaurants around HCMC when I was there a few weeks ago. The local food is great, but definately after a few weeks the desire for something else kicks in!

  3. David Saigonon 12 Jun 2013 at 3:58 am

    Al Fresco’s has also opened an outlet in District 2. I personally prefer looking out for Vietnamese restaurants attracting foreigners with either local food or serving up both local and foreign food.
    Here is a little gem I stumbled upon in D1 which I never would have found without being invited to a Spanish friend’s birthday party (his Vietnamese girlfriend had organized it), they had a private room and great Western and Asian food buffet, fantastic. I’ve since then gone back a few times and recommend it, great setting and great food.

  4. Jenon 20 Jun 2013 at 5:53 am

    Violets, that place is called Annam Gourmet Deli and yes I totally agree it should have been included here.

    Al Fresco isn’t all that great in my opinion. I’ve eaten food from there often but usually feel let down by their offerings. Go to Black Cat ( at 13 Phan Van Dat, District 1, for THE BEST burgers in the city. Also, if you want some real, affordable Italian food then head over to Ciao Bella, 11 Dong Du Street, District 1. In the evenings you get a glass of prosecco upon arrival, a constant supply of bread and dips and a glass of limoncello with your bill. Or for Napoli style pizza, go to Scoozi at 6 Thai Van Lung, District 1, 2 for 1 on Sundays. The best Spanish tapas is found in Pacharan, 97 Hai Ba Trung, District 1, they have half price Sangria and San Miguel draft during happy hour and great deals throughout the week. For Pub grub go to Bernie’s, 19 Thai Van Lung, District 1. It’s an authentic and classy Irish Pub with a wall of whiskey. The food is excellent.

    Having lived here for a year I could go on and on! There are tons of wonderful Western style restaurants in Saigon, not just these three.

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