Everyone loves to eat outside. It’s a definite part of the culture here in Vietnam, and people all over the world share the passion for enjoying home cooked meals in the great outdoors with friends and family. Vietnam obviously has plenty of rain, but there are many ways around that, and here we highlight some of the best places in town to enjoy the sunlight, share some plates, and talk over drinks. By Elijah Ferrian.
Patio – Thao Dien
52 Ngo Quang Huy, Thao Dien, District 2
Sleek architecture and a quiet, tucked away vibe make this the perfect place to dine outside and enjoy some drinks with friends. The clientele is always well dressed and relaxed, and the staff attentive and accommodating. Patio sports a full bar, coffee, and a wide selection of wine from all over the world.
Patio just opened a month ago. They feature Mediterranean food, and all their meat and fish is done on their open air barbeque. They don’t offer the same type of food as other places in Thao Dien, and they’re the only completely outdoor garden restaurant in the area. Thatched roof awnings protect from sudden showers. The menu is awesome, and filled with barbeque options that can’t be matched really anywhere else in Thao Dien. The owner wants to provide an escape for people in this bustling metropolis. Frog’s legs, chicken liver salad, slow simmered New Zealand lamb shank, and a virtual smorgasbord of grilled meats on their open-air barbeque are just a little slice of what this place has to offer. At night it really shines. Fun oldies emanate out over the white linen table cloths. Patio really helps to set a vibe that feels like the perfect mix of an elegant eatery set in a laid back environment. It’s sure to become a favorite for anyone looking to dine al fresco.
Quan Ut Ut Bacontainer
60 Truong Sa Street, Binh Thanh
This location on Truong Sa is bigger, completely open air and more relaxed than the flagship location in District 1. There are never any lines to get in and gorge yourself on perfectly done American barbeque.
Quan Ut Ut sports a ton of beer choices: 14 taps and a good number of bottles can keep any beer nerd happy. The space is huge and designed with large, repurposed shipping containers. The best feature is the awesome walk-up bar that straddles the street. It’s an amazing place to have a drink and just watch the neighbourhood run around next to the river. The main portion of the restaurant has perfect string lighting during the evenings, and retractable rain covers for when the downpours attempt to drown your sorrows for you It’s a two-floor monster of barbeque and beer. The giant, custom built smoker is the centerpiece, and it creates the finest aromas to draw on a working appetite. This has got to be one of the best places in town to plop down at a picnic table with friends and enjoy a warm Saigon evening, or afternoon.
74 Hai Ba Trung, District 1
This beautiful, historic bistro and wine bar is set at the site of Saigon’s oldest opium manufacturing space. It’s a unique blend of local decoration and custom made furniture, with a Parisian bistro style that really helps guests to do a little time traveling.
Tucked away in a secluded courtyard, The Refinery hosts one of the most gorgeous patios and al fresco dining experiences in Ho Chi Minh City. The location is phenomenal, and the restaurant itself was doing European bistro cuisine since before it caught on in popularity. Their outdoor dining area allows one to sit in the heart of the city without being caught up in the intensity of it. They boast a diverse menu with an extensive wine list, including 17 Old and New World wines by the glass. Set lunches are available on weekdays and brunch is served from 11am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Brunch at The Refinery is very popular – the complimentary chocolate fountain and the kids’ corner with its dedicated babysitter is a welcome plus for Saturday and Sunday morning parents – and reservations are highly recommended.
Bunker Bed Breakfast Bar
79/2/1 Phan Ke Binh, Da Kao, District 1
This is hands-down one of the best places to get an American diner-style breakfast. This place is small, but full of life and energy. Tucked into an up-and-coming neighbourhood that’s just as easily accessible from District 2 as District 1, this is the spot to get pancakes and bacon with breeze flowing through your dehydrated, hungover body.
Inspired by Los Angeles and its unique, neighborhood specific eateries, Bunker Bed Breakfast Bar teleports guests to Southern California with a fun food menu focussed on diner favourites. It’s located in the super chilled out Da Kao neighbourhood that seems to be sprouting new, interesting businesses and restaurants every week. Bunker is the only place in the city I have been where there are people playing Chinese chess, 90’s golden era hip hop floating out of the kitchen, and fried breakfast burritos being devoured with bonafide rooster sauce. It’s located down a sleek alley and underneath a retractable awning. The staff here are really awesome and open to teaching you how to play chess, or just shoot the breeze with them. There isn’t a ton of seating, in true diner fashion, so if you’re worried, call ahead for larger parties. There is a lemon cold press on the menu that is dangerous.
135 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Ben Nghe, District 1
Now if we were to take the first two selections for this Top 5, add more Vietnamese style, and throw it in one of the most bustling areas of Saigon, we would have Barbeque Garden. This place is like a quan nestled in a garden, and it’s perfect for someone visiting to have a uniquely Vietnamese al fresco experience.
Located in Ben Nghe right off of Le Thanh Ton street, Barbeque Garden possesses some beautiful real estate. The entire restaurant is a lush, greenery-laden food wonderland that really sets a tone for eating outside. There’s a definite feeling when you eat here that you are out in the countryside, away from the honking and fumes, and just sitting around a table with friends new and old, enjoying life and food in true Vietnamese fashion. You can grill at your table together, and keep the beers rolling in while adoring the strings of lights and plant life surrounding you. They offer barbeque recipes from around the world, and a retractable roof for the inevitable rain. If you’ve got kids, they have a sweet kids corner that can keep everyone happy and enjoying the break from the bustle.