Our food critic explored the city and came up with this list of places loved by both locals and foreigners, as well as CNN, NatGeo and The New York Times.
Hanoi Social Club
The three-story coffee house is down a quiet alley on Hoi Vu Street, Hoan Kiem District, and also serves lunch and dinner. The shop is recommended by many foreign visitors because of its live music shows that feature Vietnamese and foreign artists every week.
The coffee shop is named after its founder Nguyen Van Giang, who is known as the creator of the city’s famous egg coffee, or café trung. Giang invented the unlikely beverage in 1946 when he was working as a bartender at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel. It is a blend of coffee and egg whites, folded with sugar and drunk hot or cold, and thus was a perfect alternative to capuccino given the limited milk supplies at the time.
Giang originally stood on Hang Gai Street but now has two outlets on Nguyen Huu Huan in Hoan Kiem District and Yen Phu in Tay Ho. Both are popular destinations to foreigners and locals alike.
Giang’s daughter opened the shop and named it after Dinh Tien Hoang Street, where the café opens on the second floor of an old house. The narrow space looking over the Hoan Kiem Lake is usually packed. It serves a simple menu with coffee, cocoa drinks, lemon juice and several herbal summer drinks. And to preserve the family’s heritage, it definitely serves egg coffee.
The Hanoi episode of NatGeo’s “Street Food Around The World” series, aired in 2012, featured a visit to the shop, where the presenter discovered the making of coffee through a filter before sneaking across the room full of drinkers to claim one of its favorite balcony seats.
Ca Phe Pho Co
This shop, meaning “coffee in the Old Quarter,” stands deep inside an old house on Hang Gai Street and is hard to find for first-timers. But many customers return, either for the drinks or the exotic space with decorative antiques and woodcrafts, as well as a plenty of trees on all floors.
The favorite seats are on the terrace, which takes a climb up three flights of stairs and offers “a sweeping view over thousands of motorbikes on their circumambulation around the Hoan Kiem Lake,” the New York Times said in its 2014 feature “36 Hours in Hanoi,” in which it recommended the café as a great stop during the capital’s infamous rush hour.
Again, the shop is known for its egg coffee, while smoothies, shakes, sundaes and beer are also on the menu.
Occupying the second floor of an ancient house on Chan Cam Street in Hoan Kiem District, Loading T is another stop for egg coffee. As CNN said in a new documentary: “In Hanoi, it’s all about egg coffee.” Still, it probably tastes different in this atmostphere. The shop is also loved for its teas, smoothies and cakes.
“People in Hanoi, they love coffee. So you can really explore Hanoi through coffee shops,” said the presenter of the CNN film.
Manzi is a bar and coffee shop in an ancient French villa on Phan Huy Ich Street, which is close to the West Lake and the Old Quarter. The first floor is usually taken as a working space where drinkers sit with their laptops for hours. The second floor is more like a place for dating or reading with a drink. The shop also hosts small exhibitions of paintings, photographs and sculptures, along with talk shows and live music.
There are a lot of good coffee shops in Hanoi where you can grab a Vietnamese coffee specialty. “But Manzi is the only place in town where you could grab that same coffee and get some art,” a New York Times presenter said in “36 Hours in Hanoi.”