Eat and meet
Nha TrangFor Vietnamese food, the three Truc Linh restaurants are extremely popular and tourist-friendly. Across all restaurants Vietnamese seafood is a speciality, with the catches displayed outside nightly. They also have an extensive range of western foods on the menu. Truc Linh 2 has some Thai options, and Truc Linh 3 some Chinese options.
Swanky Thien Minh has a stone garden area for outside dining, where 'fusion' dishes are advertised on the menu, although perhaps not wisely as no real fusion is taking place, only a typically broad menu covering traditional Vietnamese and Western foods. This restaurant is not as expensive as it looks.
In town, Lac Canh is the place to go. Long established and always packed with locals, expats and tourists alike, Lac Canh is a typically bustling Vietnamese street side restaurant, where you can BBQ your own food at the table or enjoy any of the other seafoods or rice dishes on offer.
If you're looking for some real Vietnamese food and you want to get away from the tourist scene, Nha Trang has plenty of places to sample the further you get from the beach, but typically you'll find no English-language menu -- you can always pick and point and try your luck, but we thought we'd start you out with a couple of places we found.
There's a string of street-side 'Lau Bo-Lau De' places along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai between Me Linh and Nguyen Huu Huan Streets. 'Lau,' means 'hotpot,' a Vietnamese variation on sukiyaki -- Bo (as is 'baud,' without the 'd') is beef and De (as in 'yet' without the 't') is goat. It's a great meal for groups -- usually served with dried noodles you can add to the broth once you're done with the meat. If you can't decide which place to chose, follow the crowds to Quan 6 Phong. To get a better taste of a truly local dining scene, head to Quan Cay Man (Plum Tree Restaurant) on Nguyen Cong Tru. The main restaurant has a plum tree growing on the roof, but most of the seating is on either side of the street nearby. The Lau Bo here is cheap and tasty. It's only open from 14:00 to 20:00 daily, so plan accordingly.
If you're up to your ears eating pho for breakfast and lunch, a good alternative is mi quang nam -- fat noodles in a bit of savoury broth with meat or veggies in it, served with a slice of rice cracker and fresh greens. We found some absolutely delicious dishes at Quan 127 -- just a normal little noodle joint where they happen to do things a good bit better. If you're wrestling with the menu, hen is mussels, xao means fried, mi quang thap cam is a medley of meats and fish, and tom thit is shrimp. Meals are served with a glass of warm ginger tea, compliments of the house.
The selection of Italian food is superb. La Taverna is a popular place on Nguyen Thien Thuat St, with excellent pasta dishes, and of course the ubiquitous pizza that isn't too bad either. Just across the road, the long established Cyclo Cafe has a decent Italian menu along side it's Vietnamese dishes. Food here is very good and comes recommended as 'cheap and cheerful' -- it's certainly one of the best budget cafes in the area. Another Italian here is of nationwide fame, having branches in five other cities. Good Morning Vietnam is a more spacious dining area both inside and out, and food is cooked by an Italian chef. Carlo's Restaurant is good for takeaway pizzas and they also have a Vietnamese/Italian menu which includes risotto, gnocchi and seafood. Delivery is free.
An extremely popular Indian restaurant is Omar's. The Indian owners and chef will boast to you about their quality fare, and rightly so as this small yet busy place feeds spicy sub-continental food to the masses.
A part of the Good Morning chain, Good Morning Thailand is the only Thai restaurant in the area -- expect the usual spicy salads, sea food hotpots and fried rice. A small Cafe called Same Same But Different also has some Thai dishes on offer, along with Vietnamese and western food. Austrians and Germans can celebrate, because also at Same Same are German sausages along with tasty side dishes such as potato salad.
The French have plenty to choose from, including Nha Trang Yacht Club which boasts 'grand French cuisine' with specialities such as Clams in Saffron Cream Sauce and Fillet Steak with French Blue Cheese. The restaurant also has a takeaway menu which includes baguettes with pate and freshly baked croissants.
There is even a Mexican option, El Coyote, although it too serves French food on top of the nachos and tortillas.
If all this continental food is getting a bit much and the belly is striving for a taste of home and some egg &chips, head over to Shorty's, the self proclaimed 'best from the west', from the full English Breakfast to the real hamburgers. Also, Shorty's has an extensive library of books available for sale or exchange.
Carlo's - 91A Nguyen Thien Thuat St, T: (058) 521 462. Daily: 06:30-23:30
Cay Man - 13 Nguyen Cong Tru St, T: (053) 821 964. Daily: 14:00 to 20:00
Cyclo Cafe - 5A Tran Quang Khai St, T: (058) 522 259. Daily: 07:30-24:00
El Coyote - 76 Hung Vuong St, T: (058) 526 320
Good Morning Vietnam - 19B Biet Thu St, T: (058) 522 071. Daily: 10:00-23:00
Good Morning Thailand - 111B Nguyen Thien Thuat St, T: (058) 527 308. Daily: 10:00-23:00
Lac Canh - 44 Nguyen Binh Khiem St, T: (058) 821 391. Daily: 07:00-10:00
La Taverna - 115 Nguyen Thein Thuat St. T: (058) 522 259. Daily: 10:00-23:00
Omar's - 96A/8 Tran Phu St, T: (058) 522 459. Daily: 07:00-23:00
Quan 127 - 127 Hong Bang St, T: (058) 511 668. Daily: 06:00 to 14:00
Quan 6 Phong - 78 Nguyen Minh Khai St, T: (058) 512 372. Daily: 14:00 to 23:00
Nha Trang Yacht Club - 1/21 Tran Quang Khai St. Daily: 07:00-22:30
Same Same But Different - 111 Nguyen Thien Thuat St, T: (058) 524 079. Daily: 07:00-22:00
Shorty's - 1E Biet Thu St, T: (058) 524 057. Daily: 07:00-23:30
Thien Minh - 30 Tran Quang Khai St, T: (058) 524 899. Daily: 08:00-23:00
Truc Linh 1 - 11 Biet Thu St, T: (058) 526 742. Daily: 07:00-23:00
Truc Linh 2 - 21 Biet Thu St, T: (058) 521 089. Daily: 07:00-23:00
Truc Linh 3 - 80 Huong Vuong St, T: (058) 525 259. Daily: 07:00-23:00
The choice of where you end is very limited in Nha Trang, but the pre-club choice is competitive, with countless bars fighting for custom with unlimited bargins during happy hour, usually from 19:00-22:00. It's best to check the bars for custom during your stay, as where's hip and where's not changes rapidly, with a few exceptions.
For example, the Red Sun Bar offers a free cocktail from 20:00-23:00 and big cocktail buckets for 20,000 dong. They have a pool table, table football, and a street front seating area. The Red Apple Club has happy hour all night long including two for one fosters, with ladies night on Mondays. This places also offers free pool.
For a change from the dance music pumping out of the previous two, pop into The Shamrock Bar, an Irish themed pub run by two Scotsman. Inside are imported beers and cider such as Strongbow, and a cosy public house atmosphere.
The funkiest bar in town is Guava, centrally located. Reminiscent of an urban bar come cocktail lounge, Guava is full of comfortable armchairs and, in the evening, loud dance music. Just next door is the infamous Crazy Kim bar and restaurant. An outside patio area leads into the first bar area -- behind this are two more rooms including a bar in the back with two pool tables. The room with two dentist chairs may give away what kind of things can happen here late at night.
Over at Zippo Bar 'Howlin Rick' gives a live music performance every night from 20:30-22:00, although as the name suggests, it's not for the faint hearted.
By the time midnight has arrived, if already not there, better head over to the Sailing Club. This is the late night gathering spot for all -- the SC is situated right on the beach and has large outside seating areas both inside and out, and at night, a dance floor that's crowded.
Crazy Kim - 19 Biet Thu St, T: (058) 523 072. Daily: 09:00-01:00
Guava - 17 Biet Thu St, T: (058) 524 140. Daily: 10:00-Late
Red Sun Bar - 72 Nguyen Thien Thuat St, T: (058) 527 059. Daily: 15:00-02:00.
Red Apple Club - 54 Nguyen Thien Thuat St, T: (058) 525 599. Daily: 15:00-Late
The Shamrock Bar - 56A, Nguyen Thien Thuat St, T: (058) 527 548.
Sailing Club - 72-74 Tran Phu St, T: (058) 527 006. Daily: 12:00-Late.
Zippo Bar - 34F Nguyen Thien Thuat St. Daily: 08:00-22:00
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