Vietnamese cuisine is like no other cuisine in the world. Packed with tons of fresh herbs and warming spices, this light yet satisfying fare will always leave you feeling happy. Vietnamese food can be found all throughout the city of New Orleans, and served up in many different ways. Because there are so many restaurants to choose from, deciding where to go and what to get often causes a major headache. As a well-seasoned eater and lover of Vietnamese food, I am here to offer you a solution. Here is your definitive guide to the best Vietnamese establishments in NOLA and their signature dishes.
Mint Modern Vietnamese Bistro and Bar
About it:Mint opened up about three years ago and has been a staple in the New Orleans Vietnamese food scene ever since. They serve up some new and inventive dishes, as well as modern takes on classics.
What to get: Oh, the possibilities. If you're going classic, get the Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl. Beware though—it's a lot spicier than you would think, but in the best way possible. Add an egg for some extra yolky yumminess. If you want something a little different, get the Vietnamese Banh Mi Burger. A beef patty served up on a yummy bun and topped with kim chi and spicy mayo, served alongside sweet potato fries... YUM!
About it:This place is simple, straightforward, and absolutely delicious. It's nothing fancy, but once you try the food, you won't care. Sit at a long table with some strangers and enjoy some truly authentic Vietnamese cuisine. If you're lucky enough, you'll even be greeted by the Lilly herself!
What to get: Hands down the Pho Combo. The broth in the pho is extremely flavorful, warming, and like nothing I have tasted anywhere else. With this dish, you get all of the proteins that one could possibly want- rare flank, brisket, and beef balls give you an incredible variety. Perfect cure for a cold, or just a great way to warm up on a chilly day.
Ba Chi Canteen
About it: Conveniently located on Maple Street, this place is a staple in the diets of Tulane students. Epitome of casual dining—don't be afraid to show up in your sweatpants!
What to get: What they're known best for—bacos! These are Ba Chi's take on Vietnamese tacos, and they are all delicious. My favorites are the Oyster, the Coconut Curry Shrimp, and the Ba Chi. If you're having a major cheat day, go for the Kim Chi Fries. Golden french fries topped with spicy mayo and kim chi—does it get much better than that?
About it: With its cool decor and small interior, Magasin is a great setting for an intimate gathering. Their menu is loaded with Eat Fit NOLA-approved dishes, which makes eating here a guilt-less pleasure.
What to get: Filet Mignon Fried Rice with Avocado. All three components are delicious on their own, and together, something truly delectable is created. This dish tastes like you're eating a fancy steak dinner, while only paying $12.50.
Pho Cam Ly
About it: Another great Vietnamese establishment down here in the Big Easy; they're best known for their Pho Challenge. If you manage to consume two pounds of meat and two pounds of noodles within one hour, you win a t-shirt, a photo on their wall of fame, a free ginormous bowl of pho, and of course, bragging rights! If you're one of the not-so lucky ones, you have to pay $50 and try a little bit harder next time.
What to get: The Pho Bo Kho. This beef stew is hearty, warming, and amazingly tender. The broth is extremely flavorful, and extremely delicious. If you're a lover of pho, give this variation a try. You won't regret it!
About it: Killer ambiance, killer food. This Mid City establishment serves up classic Vietnamese dishes with a New Orleans style twist.
What to get: Get the Lamb Lollipops for an appetizer. Not what you would expect to see on the menu of a Vietnamese restaurant, but these subtle Asian flavors work really well and are absolutely delicious. For a main course, get the Short Rib Pho. Sounds like an average Vietnamese dish, right? Wrong, because you MUST order it "shaken." This means that the meat is first seared in a wok with bone marrow oil, garlic, and onions before being submerged into the delicious broth. Nothing average about that.
Pho Tau Bay
About it: Best known for Anthony Bourdain's visit with Chef John Besh featured in Bourdain's docu-series "The Layover," this authentic Vietnamese establishment recently ditched its original location in the West Bank to open in the CBD. Beware of their strange hours, however. They are closed on the weekends, and only open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for dine-in, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for takeout. Worth eating at bizarre hours because of how delicious and authentic this food is.
What to get: Don't get too overwhelmed by all of the menu options! For an appetizer, get the Goi Ga. This Vietnamese salad consists of thinly sliced cabbage, cilantro, onion, roasted peanuts, and fried shallots and is topped with the most delicious nuoc mam dressing. Take advantage of the wide-ranging menu options and get the Pho Ap Chao as an entree- stir fried beef and veggies are seasoned to perfection and served over pan fried rice noodles.
About it: A favorite amongst Tulane students, particularly because they take NolaBucks (thanks mom and dad). Always there for you at the times you need spring rolls the most, a.k.a Fat Tuesday. Closed on Mondays, though.
What to get: SPRING ROLLS!!!!!! I recommend choosing from the raw rolls, which are truly special. These rolls are like sushi, but wrapped wrapped in rice paper instead of rice. My favorites are the Tuna Avocado (pictured), Spicy Tuna, and Salmon Mango.
Happy eating y'all!