Must-Try foods & drinks in the Old Quarter

If you are interested in Vietnam’s culinary scene and vibrant street life, you can’t afford to miss these must-eat foods in the Old Quarter. While the old town may be relatively small, its unique atmosphere is unparalleled. Chock full of traditional vendors, delicious shops, and a range of restaurants, this place is one of the highlights of Hanoi, a historic neighborhood in central Hanoi. During the day, you’ll spot Hanoi residents stocking up on an extraordinary selection of Pho, Bun Cha, Banh mi, Bun bo, and more. The area turns into a buzzing destination for a glass of fresh beer or dining in the evening. There’s a reason for spending time on our list of best things to do in Hanoi. Here’s our list of the foods you can’t afford to miss!

NUTS, DRIED FRUITS & SPICES at Dong Xuan market

Initially, the Dong Xuan market gained notoriety for its many shops selling spices, nuts, and dried fruits. You’ll find all the variety you could desire sold by weight here for very reasonable prices. It’s the perfect place to explore the best spices in Vietnam. And, of course, all the ingredients needed for cooking PHO, like star anise, black pepper, dried bamboo roots, onion, ginger, and cinnamon. Enjoy looking into these iconic establishments and discovering unique seasoning mixtures and exotic dried fruits. This Hanoi Old Quarter Tour is the perfect way to explore this wonderful part of Hanoi.

Photo: Dong Xuan Market

Banh Mi

There is nothing like eating a healthy Banh Mi in the Old Quarter. It is a popular tradition among the locals, particularly on the weekends when the area is full of locals and tourists. A crispy loaf of bread and a variety of fillings like chicken, mushroom, carrot, cucumber, and more – what’s not to love? With a cult following among locals, Banh mi 25 and Banh mi Hoi An are the top destinations to experience this classic Vietnamese street bite.

Photo: Vietnamese Bahn Mi


Whether you’re looking to stock up or enjoy a cup of coffee on the spot, the Old Quarter has wonderful offerings. Vietnam is the second-largest coffee producer globally, just right behind Brazil. It is famous for the black, bitter, and powerful Robusta bean. While traveling to the old town, several coffee shops will blend and grind coffee beans for you on the spot, like Cong Caphe. Café Giang, with its historic atmosphere, serves unique coffee with egg yolk called the egg coffee made on the site. Are you a coffee addict looking for the best spots in the city? Check out our guide to Hanoi’s best coffee.

Photo: Vietnamese coffee

Vietnamese PHO

Friends worldwide have been curious about the REAL PHO in Vietnam when they travel to Hanoi as there is always a PHO restaurant wherever it has a Vietnamese town. Pho is eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, from the best restaurants to street vendors with makeshift plastic tables. The chewy, white rice noodles and clear broth are garnished with chopped scallions, green herbs, and additional condiments such as segments of lime, chili, and garlic. You can order a bowl of Pho every corner in Hanoi, but Pho Thin has the title of the best Pho in the old town. 

Photo: Pho in Hanoi

The Old Quarter is a highlight of Hanoi for all food lovers. Vibrant, unique, and full of delectable culinary treasures waiting to be discovered, it’s one of Hanoi’s most iconic destinations. But if a brief stroll around the area leaves you wanting more, check out these Hanoi tours. You’ll get the best way to taste and experience the best of Hanoi!

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