The town of Sapa in Vietnam is a popular stop for most tourists who arrive from Hanoi on the overnight trains. With the surrounding mountains and tribal villages, not to mention the mighty Mt. Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina, it is quite understandable why Sapa is so popular with hikers, climbers, and travelers looking for markets and cultural immersion with the hill tribes.
Given that Sapa is no stranger to tourists and the postcolonial French influence (freshly baked baguettes, anyone?), it’s no surprise that this little town is dotted with many good restaurants serving local and international (mostly French cuisine). If you’re planning your trip and worried about where to eat in Sapa, quit worrying because there are plenty of options, even for vegetarians. You can even get a Doner Kebab if you fancy one! However, the price range varies greatly depending upon if the place is targeted towards tourists (most are) or also welcomes locals and expats.
I spent some time volunteering with a wonderful organization called Sapa O’Chau and ended up trying a lot of different restaurants during my time in Sapa. Personally, the joy of travel is incomplete without memorable food experiences and Sapa provided plenty of those. Finding good places to eat out in Sapa was something I did by trial-and-error (I ate out every day for the weeks I was there). Below, I’m sharing a list of my top 5 restaurants in Sapa for a truly delicious meal, all varying in price and cuisine.
Note: At the time of writing, a filling local meal with a starter, side, and main dish would cost you about $4-5 and an additional $2-3 for a glass of wine. International cuisine is understandably slightly more expensive.
1. Antique Sapa – 22A, Phan Xi Pang, Sapa
A simple and high value for money restaurant that does a very good Set Menu. Nowadays, a lot of restaurants in Sapa try to attract tourists with local Set Menus that are about $4-5 that consist of a starter, main dish, and beverage (hot wine or tea) but not all of them are comparable in terms of taste, quality or portion size. Antique Sapa ranks very high on all of these and has one of the best with generous portions and meals that will guarantee that you will fall in love with the Vietnamese cuisine.
Pictured below from the Vegetarian Set Menu: Curried vegetables (Zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and beans) with steamed rice.
Other recommendations: Pumpkin Soup
Curried vegetables (Zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and beans) with steamed rice.
2. Nature View – 051, Fansipan Street, Sapa
This restaurant happens to be one of the pricier and fancier restaurants in Sapa, but it’s totally worth it. This places scores on its excellent ambiance, delicious food and quick and friendly service. It serves both local and international cuisine and even does a good Set Menu.
I definitely saw more tourists here than locals, probably due to its the price range. I particularly enjoyed the chicken sautéed in lemongrass and basil (pictured below), the yogurt sautéed chicken was equally tasty. They also had a decent number of vegetarian options on the menu so I’d say this is one of those places to eat in Sapa that vegetarians will thoroughly enjoy.
Other recommendations: Spicy sautéed potatoes, pasta, vegetarian and tofu dishes.
Grilled chicken sauteed in lemongrass with steamed rice
3. Little Sapa – 18, Cau May, Sapa
Little Sapa is best for its truly authentic and very reasonable Vietnamese food. The prices are among the lowest in Sapa (meals cost only $2-$5) and the quality of food is still very high. The staff does not speak a lot of English so be patient while ordering. In my experience, they do understand and get it right most of the time. The restaurant sees a good mix of local patrons and tourists. It dishes out what was my favorite Pho-ga (Chicken noodle soup) during my time in Vietnam. The fiery garlic sauce that sits on all tables is a great accompaniment to most dishes.
Other recommendations: Fish spring rolls, tofu, and vegetables in tomato gravy (pictured below) and the Vegetable Curry.
Tofu in tomato gravy with steamed rice
4. Baguette & Chocolat – Thac Bac Street, Sapa
Roasted vegetable baguette
Reflective of its name, Baguette & Chocolat is essentially a pricey French café that does scrumptious croissants, stuffed baguettes, all day breakfasts, eggs, coffee, and desserts. Personally, I am also a big fan of this café because of its contribution and commitment to the local community.
Recommendations: Baguette with sautéed zucchini, eggplant, white onions and pureed tomatoes (pictured), Hunter’s Omelette, Chocolate Croissant, Lemon tart, and Apple and goats cheese spring rolls.
Apple and goats cheese spring rolls
5. The Lizard 10, Cau May, Sapa
Looking for good Vietnamese food and friendly service while you’re in town? The Lizard is where you need to be. The staff is very helpful if you’re undecided about what to order. Price range is similar to most restaurants with meals ranging between $4-$5.
Recommendations: Tofu curry with mushrooms, eggplant in a clay pot with steamed rice, and Chicken Spring rolls with egg and vegetables.
Tofu curry with mushrooms, eggplant served in a clay pot
There you have it! My list of five of the many delightful restaurants that you can pay a visit to enjoy a great meal while in Sapa, Vietnam. If you happen to be residing or traveling London, you can treat yourself to a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine at Bananatree restaurant. Be sure to give it a try!
*This article was originally published on Natasha’s blog, The Boho Chica. All photos are by the author and may not be used without permission.
Been wanting to discover all the culinary wonders that Asia has to offer? Why not book yourself a mouthwatering food tour in Asia? Your stomach will definitely thank you for it!