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Da Lat

Eat and meet

Da Lat

The choice of decent eateries in Da Lat is limited compared to other popular Vietnam tourist destinations. Very few places cater to western tastes and even some of those that try don't succeed. Asian food of course is easier to find.

A stroll around Ho Xuan Huong lake at night could be finished off with a seat either on the outside decking or inside the restaurant at Thanh Thuy, or Bluewater Restaurant. Sitting on the waters' edge, this version is a third attempt at getting the old building right, and finally they pulled it off. The outside decking is popular with locals to sit, laugh and drink. The menu covers a range of Western, Vietnamese and Chinese food -- the Chinese options are especially extensive. Across town high up on the fifth floor is Mountain Town. The best thing about eating here is the view across the lake and the city below as the food is hit and miss. The menu also serves a selection of Western food as well as a full Vietnamese menu.

Come out of Mountain Town and turn left along Nguyen Chi Thanh, you'll pass numerous coffee shops, as this is Da Lat's coffee house street. Eventually you'll arrive at the steps leading down to the market. Above the steps is Lotus Restaurant. Try the delicious claypot spicy fish, but watch the bones. This place, also known as Quan Sen, has a roof terrace area -- although not luxurious, it's a nice spot to observe the town below in the market square.

Again on the upper level of town is Pho Di Bo, also known as Walking Town, a centrally located and popular street side restaurant. Specialities here are Hue beef rice noodles for breakfast and Nam Vang Soup, a concoction of beef, seafood and noodles in the same bowl. They also have a vast array of fried rice dishes. A little further from the centre, about a five-minute walk away, is the Lamson Family Restaurant or Sapa Restaurant, serving Vietnamese food in another typical streetside setting -- metal tables and plastic chairs.

For elegance and expensive eating, you can't beat Ming Dynasty. Set in a renovated French villa on Tran Hung Dao St, the restaurant commands a spectacular view back down into Da Lat -- even better if eating on one of the balcony areas. As with it's Ho Chi Minh City counterpart, Ming serves fine Chinese food starting from 70,000 dong for a main and ranging up to 250,000 dong.

For a Western-style restaurant, you won't do better than V Cafe. Now open for five years, it is Da Lat's tastiest and most popular restaurant among foreign visitors -- you should find it busy evenings. The menu, as American owner Michael will tell you, is intentionally simple and coversboth 'East' and 'West'. If it's mashed potatoes and veggies you're longing for, this is the place to come. It's located opposite the Da Lat Sinh Cafe on Bui Thi Xuan St.

At the meeting of Phan Ding Phung St and Troung Cong Dinh St, a couple of options present - including Peace Cafe, which is part of the adjoining Peace Hotel. Although distinctly musty and in need of decoration, it's a popular venue for tourists in this busy hotel area. As the city's three main outdoor activity centres are within a few minutes, it's not unusual for Peace Cafe to receive returning adventurers looking for a good feed. It's also the hangout for some of Da Lat's Easy Riders. The food isn't too bad either. Just next door is the much more upscale Art Cafe, another altogether smarter inside, although the menu is standard Vietnamese fare.

Art Cafe - 74 Truong Cong Dinh. T: (063) 510 089. Daily: 10:00-22:00
Lamson Famiy Restaurant - T: (063) 822 362. Daily 06:00-23:00
Lotus Restaurant - 1A Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Da Lat. T(063) 823 457. Daily 08:00-22:30.
Ming Dynasty - 7 Tran Hung Dao St, Da Lat. T: (063) 813 816. Daily: 10:00-13:30 &17:00-21:30.
Mountain Town - 46 Nguyen Chi Thanh St, Da Lat. T (063) 5111135. Daily 07:00-23:00
Peace Cafe - 66 Truong Cong Dinh. T: (063) 822 787. Daily: 06:00-22:00.
Pho di bo - 2 Nguyen Van Troi, Da Lat. T: (063) 510 852. Daily 06:30-22:30
Thanh Thuy - 2 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Da Lat. T: (063) 531 688. Daily 06:00-23:00 (kitchen closed at 22:00).
V Cafe - 1/1 Bui Thi Xuan St, Da Lat. T: (063) 520 215. Daily: 13:00-22:00.

Bars

For nightlife, Da Lat has very little to offer. Excluding having a drink at sociable restaurants such as V Cafe and Peace Cafe, choice is limited.

Larry's Bar at the Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel is a very cosy little place with private corners and comfortable sofas, all areas serviced with widescreen TVs -- potentially a great place to watch sport with some friends. Drinks are expensive with cocktails starting at $4.95 -- the clientele is likely to be from the posh hotel above.

Over on Truong Cong Dinh, opposite the Peace Hotel and next to Phat Tire Adventures, is The Hangout. Associated with Da Lat's Easy Riders, it was created because they, and their foreign friends in town, were fed up with having nowhere to 'hang'. Therefore, here you can do exactly that. They have a selections of board games to whittle away the time, and also a DVD library and widescreen TV, and a pool table in the bar area. A good place to pick up travel tips as well.

For something completely different, try stepping into the 100 Roofs Cafe. It's decorated like a jungle, in similar style to the 'Crazy House'. Over at the Lamson Family Restaurant, draught 'honey beer' is served at 4,000VND a glass, and it's not a bad brew at all.

Saigon Nite claims to be the oldest bar in Da Lat, and we believe it.

100 Roofs Cafe - 57 Phan Boi Chau, Da Lat. T: (063) 837 518. Daily - 09:00-23:00.
Lamson Famiy Restaurant - T: (063) 822 362. Daily 06:00-23:00
Larry's Bar - 12 Tran Phu Street, Da Lat. T: (063) 825 444. Daily 16:00-24:00.
Peace Cafe - 66 Truong Cong Dinh. T: (063) 822 787. Daily: 06:00-22:00.
The Hangout - 71 Troung Cong Dinh St. T: (063) 510 822. Daily - 08:00-Late.
Saigon Nite -11 Hai Ba Trung St. T: (063) 820 007. Daily 16:00-Late
V Cafe - 1/1 Bui Thi Xuan St, Da Lat. T: (063) 520 215. Daily: 13:00-22:00


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