Five To Try: Retro Cafes In Saigon

In a city seemingly racing headlong into modernity it’s reassuring to find a few sacred spots in which to bask in old Saigon. From the relaxed elegance of Indochine to the more lurid colours of the 1980’s, our selection of the best retro cafes in town offers an antidote to the ever growing homogeneity of big name chain cafes and restaurants. Step in, sit down and enjoy the sights and smells of the past.

Vintage Emporium

Five To Try: Retro Cafés In Saigon
@drk_jw_cho @kalen.miumiu

Immaculate white brick walls, intricately patterned ceramic tiling and vintage Vietnamese furniture and fabrics work together to create a bright and breezy feel at Vintage Emporium. The menu is, however, the star of the show, with a broad array of carefully prepared Western dishes to satisfy homesick expats and locals alike.

If you’re looking for: a chic, relaxed spot for lunch with friends
Vibes: indochine 1930
Menu: extensive Western selection, including an all day breakfast menu to drool for

Don’t forget to: take a look upstairs
Address: 95B Nguyen Văn Thủ, D.1

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Five To Try: Retro Cafés In Saigon@hoangnguyen.nomad @markan.nguyen

81 Cafe is a real gem. Both achingly cool yet entirely authentic, this little hole in the wall serves up Vintage Vietnam in both decor and menu. Alongside traditional coffee, the drinks only selection includes old fashioned local juices such as the delicious Nuoc Sau; drunk chilled while taking in the array of salvaged 60’s furniture, dusty vinyls and lounging cats.

If you’re looking for: something truly different
Vibes: ultra cool but authentic
Menu: drinks only
Don’t forget to: try their delicious old fashioned juices
Address: 216B Nguyễn Văn Nguyễn, D.1

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Saigon Retro Café

Five To Try: Retro Cafés In Saigon
@saigonretrocafe @jytrang

Tucked away down a shady side alley is this chilled out sixties inspired cafe. The vintage decor is pared back, restricted to (oddly) a Carpenters vinyl, a model of London’s Tower Bridge, 35m cameras and old movie posters. The menu is one of the more unusual, featuring bread and milk on the food side, and cola-infused sweet and salty soda-pops among the drinks.

If you’re looking for: a relaxed spot to write your novel
Vibes: laid back and quietly quirky
Menu: light lunch bites and unusual soft drinks (hot lime coke, anyone?)
Don’t forget to: try the Saigon Prune
Address: 55 Trần Quốc Toản, D.3

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Five To Try: Retro Cafés In Saigon
@saigon80s.nhaminh @linhichigo @rena_desu

Inspired by one of pop-culture’s less beloved decades, Saigon 80’s serves up locally sourced tea and coffee in a cosy space that is just a shade away from crowded with dark wood and leather easy chairs, ancient TV’s and an Ao Dai fashion would rather forget. The team has taken care over the menu, which includes throwback food options like canned fish and bread.

If you’re looking for: an unusual spot near district 1 
Vibes: quality beverages and well worn seats
Menu: traditional, locally sourced tea and coffee and cheap eats
Don’t forget to: pour over the detailed menu
Address: 9/8 Trương Quyền, D.3

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Út Lành Cà-phê

Five To Try: Retro Cafés In Saigon
@utlanhcaphe @minhth26

Ut Lanh Ca-phe is a shining light in the otherwise seedy backpacker district. A tiny space consisting of just a few tables and an unusual upstairs sporting a bedframe (?), the cafe serves up good basic grub at bargain prices, including instant noodles and fried fish balls, while its colourful mixed drinks are the stuff of a five-year-old’s dream. 

If you’re looking for: a respite from Bui Vien
Vibes: cheap and cheerful
Menu: coffee, colourful juices and fast food
Don’t forget to: try the Vietnamese fruit punch
Address: 283/38 Phạm Ngũ Lão, D.1

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Words by Rebecca Jones
Graphics by Thanh Duong