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Old Quarter’s many choices are listed here in three groups: foreign-oriented Western Food & Traveler’s Cafes, fancier sit-down Restaurants (there are only a couple I like particularly in this area) and Hanoi’s famed simple, plastic-stool, family-run Street Food stands.

Western Food & Traveler’s Cafes

Convenient to Hang Gai’s shops and Hoan Kiem Lake, the air-conditioned Little Hanoi is a nice corner spot with wood floors and plenty of views of the manic traffic. It’s good for the excellent baguettes (eg smoked beef with horse radish; US$3), a big ol’ sloppy American breakfast (US$6.15), or an afternoon beer.
21 Hang Gai St; open 7.30am-11pm

A rare relaxing stopping point for a chocolate croissant (US$0.45), baguette sandwich (US$2-2.50) or set breakfast (US$3.50) in this part of the quarter, the two-floor bakery has a cozy tables and blasting air-con and a shoes-off lounge upstairs. It’s part of the Hoa Sua school, giving jobs/training to disadvantaged youth. (Also see Hoa Sua in the French Quarter.)
Tel 04-923-1500;; 11B Cha Ca St; open 7am-10pm

Much more atmospheric than most traveler-oriented spots around the quarter, the 69 is made from a 19th-century tube house, with all-wood interior on its two floors. Food’s fine, typically Vietnamese (about US$2-4 for most dishes) and a few sandwiches.
69 Ma May St; open 8am-11pm

It’s just for coffee, but it’s a must. Coming into the so-called ‘secret café’ feels like entering a forbidden private home. A tiny hidden alley is just off Hang Gai St – past a couple souvenir stands – where atop a home are a breezy couple floors shooting above the north end of Hoan Kiem Lake. Order before you walk up.
11 Hang Gai St, just go back and up

Not affiliated with the above Little Hanoi, this one, on a tiny street just north of the bia hoi corner, has a cute bamboo-decked, air-conditioned dining room that churns out good noodle and rice dishes (US$2-2.50) for backpackers galore.
9 Ta Hien St

The HQ for Handspan Tours gets plenty of passer-by for the orange-and-pink, fan-cooled dining room with cushioned seats and good breakfasts (US$1-3), set lunches (about US$6.90) and fruit shakes. A glass noodle Thai salad with vegetables is US$3.10.
80 Ma May St; open 5.30am-10.30pm


As much a bar as a restaurant, this wonderful, stylish spot span a few floors of an old walk-up, French-built home. The ground-floor bar displays its claim to fame, a colorful collection of Vietnamese rice wines you can order individually or in a themed sampler group (eg the ‘Mountain Forest’; four small glasses are US$1.50). Best is sitting in the shoes-off loungey area on the open roof. Food is worth eating too, particularly the nem ca xa loi (a catfish roll, served hot and with an eye-opening horse-radish sauce). Gets busy most evenings by 8pm. Ask about cooking courses. Two other Hanoi locations (575 Kim Ma St and 54 Mai Hac De St).
Tel 04-926-0639;; 5 Hang Tre St; open 9am-12.30am

For a relaxed, modern (and air-conditioned) spot for a quick meal of noodles, pop in here for its creative menu of all bun (rice noodle) dishes for US$1.50-2.75. Opened in 2007.
7 Dien Tien Hoang St

Street Food

This unglamorous storefront is the place for the northern version of banh cuon (a glutinous rice paper roll filled with pork and chicken, and covered with grounded dried shrimp and grilled shallots). It’s run by the woman who makes the same for the slick Bobby Chinn restaurant in the French Quarter, but for a lot less. She steams the rice paper up front and serves the tasty rolls hot – thus the name nong (hot) – and rarely with a smile. Try offering a ‘ngon lam’ (very delicious) as you leave – it sometimes breaks through. It’s US$0.75 per portion.
71 Hang Bo St; open after 4pm

Buzzing spot for pho bo (beef noodle soup), with early-risers squatting on plastic stools and slurping what’s commonly regarded as Hanoi’s most delicious pho bo. Start at the pho assembly line in the front with bubbling pots of broth and pay (about US$0.95) then find your seat.
49 Bat Dan St; open by 6am or 7am

Near the water puppets and Old Quarter’s budget hotels, this hole-in-the-wall offers mien cua (glass noodles with crab) and a very flavorful bun rieu cua, rice noodles topped with crab, tomato, shallot, a little pork (US$0.95 per bowl).
34 Cau Go St

When you feel like eel soup, head to this tiny family-run eatery with a few aluminum tables and cases up front overflowing its namesake: tiny, lightly fried eels twisted into shoestring-fries shapes. They’re used for mien cuon, a tasty broth over glass noodles (US$0.80 per bowl). Don’t expect much chit-chat from the matter-of-factly staff.
83 Hang Dieu St, across from Hang Da market; open 7am-11pm