When we arrived in Vientiane this time and heard an expat describe the city’s eating as “dollar for the dollar the best in the world”, we thought he’d had one too many happy pizzas. But the more we ate the more we thought that actually, he might be right. The ever-growing number street vendors, beer gardens and restaurants now embrace much of the world’s cuisine, and we can’t think of anywhere with this range for so little money – it’s hard to argue with US$4 or US$5 for a meal that would probably cost five times as much at home.
Countless simple eateries serving fresh and tasty Laos dishes are complemented by establishment offering food as diverse as French provencale, sushi, Indian fusion and North Korean (with rock ‘n’ roll waitresses direct from Pyongyang!
BAKERIES & DELIS
Tel: 215199; Add: Nam Phu Street. Pastries US$0.80-150: breakfast, lunch & dinner.
It sells fresh bread, pies, sandwiches (US$2), real Scandinavian-style pastries, cakes and ice cream. It has indoor and outdoor seating, upstairs room has satellite TV
Tel: 223741. Add: Th Nokeo Khulnman. Meals: US$2-3:
The coffee, sandwiches and fine pastries make this petit French-run cafe a long-time favorite
JoMa Bakery Café
Tel: 215265. Add: Th Setthathirat. Meals US$2-5; Breakfast, lunch & dinner Mon-Sat;
JoMa is the first-choice lunch stop for many expatriate workers in Vientiane, a good place for meetings, delicious pastries, sandwiches, quiche, muesli, fruit, shakes and coffee. Wifi is available for US$2.50 an hour.
Swedish Pizza & Parking House
Tel: 21S705; Add: The Chao Anou Street. Pizza: US$ 3-5
More pizza place than bakery, with some pastries and arguably the best pizzas in Vientiane. Delivery available.
NOODLES, CHINESE & VIETNAMESE
Noodles of all kinds are popular in Vientiane, especially in the unofficial Chinatown area bounded by Th Heng Bonn, Th Chao Anou, Th Khun Bulom and the western end of Th Samsenthai. The basic choice is pho (a rice noodle that’s popular throughout mainland Southeast Asia), mii (traditional Chinese egg noodle) and khào pún (very thin wheat noodles with a spicy Lao sauce). Pho and mii can be ordered as soup, fried or dry-mixed in a bowl, among other variations.
Tel: 214444; Add:Th Fa Ngum street. Meals: US$ 0.70 – 1.50 UO, Breakfast, lunch & dinner
The food is as good and cheap as ever, with the spring rolls also a favorite. Motorbikes can be hired here.
Tel: 213990; Add: Th Heng Boun street. Meals: US$1.50-3.0. Lunch & dinner
In the middle of Chinatown, It specializes in niem niuang (barbecued pork meatballs) and many varieties of (spring rolls), usually sold in “sets” (sut) , fresh lettuce leaves, mint, basil, various sauces for dipping, sliced star fruit and green plantain. You can also order slin ja here, thinly sliced pieces of raw beef which customers boil in small cauldrons of coconut juice and eat with dipping sauces, or some of the many varieties of spring roll.
Tel: 217364, Add: Th Chao Anou. Meals: US$ 2 – 4, Lunch & dinner
The menu here resembles a small phone book of mainly southern Chinese dishes.
Riverfront food and drink vendor
The long stretch of vendors that convenes along the levee beside the Mekong river is a great place to watch the sunset eating grilled chicken), minced sausage mixed with rice, herbs and roasted chillies with a plate of greens on the side) and cheap Beerlao.
Ban Anou Night market
This night market sets up in a small off the north end of Th Chao Anou every afternoon. It’s an encyclopedia of street all fresh and freshly prepared – the locals love it.
Mekong Riverside Restaurant
Tel: 241375. Add: Th Fa Ngum. Meals: US$ 1.50 – 3; Lunch & dinner
Offers a small menu of tasty Lao staples supplement of snacks you won’t find at home; deep – fried underground singer (cricket; US$2.50 ) with your Beerlao, anyone?
Tel: 222049. Meals: US$ 2-3.50; lunch and dinner
There are all manner of Lao favorites including, roast duck, grilled fish, roast cow tongue. For a classic Lao meal, order the very hot papaya salad), soupy bamboo- shoot salad, sticky rice and draught beer.
Soukvenam Lao food
Tel: 214441. Add: 89/12 Ban Sisaket. Meals: US$2.5-3.5. Lunch and dinner
Specialties include fish soup with ant larvae in season, spicy minced fish salad, among many others.
Douang Deune Restaurant & Wine bar
Tel: 241154. Add: Th Francois Nginn. Meals: US$2.50-5. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mon – Sat
The tasty Lao, Thai and Vietnamese favorites here are completed bay an attractive traditional setting and welcome French host.
Tel: 260587. Meals: US$3-6. Lunch and dinner, Mon- Sat.
Run by Friends international (www.friends-international.com), this restaurant trains homeless youth to cook and wait tables. The modern Lao cuisine is both interesting and tasty. A shop upstairs sells handicrafts made by underprivileged families.
FRENCH & ITALIAN
Tel: 214 940. Add: Th Manhatulat. Meals: 2.5 – 6 USD
The French and Lao food here is wonderful, with subtle flavors and artistic presentation complemented by an attentive but not harassing service, all for very reasonable price.
Tel: 216 402; Add: Th In Paeng Street. Meals: US$3- 7, lunch, Mon-Sat. dinner daily.
Tucked away in an old house in a quite street behind Wat In Paeng. It’s intimate, romantic ambience and mix of salads, French crusine, wood – fired pizza and pasta make it a good choice
Tel: 264 075. Add: 39 Th Chao Anou. Meals: 5 – 8 USD, lunch Mon – Sat, dinner daily
Reasonably good Italian fare is served up bay the Italian owner in unpretentious surrounds. Warm atmosphere.
Le Belle Epoque
Tel: 217 581. Add: Th Pang Kham. Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner, 8 – 16 USD
The menu is mainly French but also has Lao component, dishes include braised lamb shank with organic mash potato (US$13.5) and the delicious flat noodles with grilled eggplant and cream sauce (US$5.50)
L’Opera Italian Restaurant
Tel: 215099. Add: Nam Phu Street, 8 – 16 USD. Opening hours: 11.30 am- 2 pm & 6 – 10 pm
It has become something of a Vientiane institution, but that doesn’t make either overly welcoming or great value. The food is pretty good, with pasta (6.50 USD – 7.50 USD)
The French influence is most noticeable around Nam Phu, where you’ll find three small, atmospheric eateries each serving Gallic cuisine.
Tel: 216248. Add: Nam Phu Street. Meals: 4 – 10 USD, lunch and dinner.
The menu is a mix of French and Asian fare combined with sophisticated service and an extensive wine cellar- the lunch time set menu is great menu.
Tel: 219 685. Add: Nam Phu Street. Meals: 3 – 10 USD, lunch & dinner.
It serves rustic southern-French-style dishes, though its pastas and oven-baked pizzas are least as good.
Khop Chai Deu
Tel: 251546. Add: Th Setthathirat. Meals: 2.5 – 8 USD, lunch and dinner.
Well-prepared Lao, Thai, Indian and assorted Western fare, and lively ambience. There’s live music most days.
Full Moon Cafe
Tel: 6 243373. Add: Th Fiancois Nginn. Meals: US$3-6.50, breakfast, lunch & dinner
Once there the Asian fusion food won’t disappoint. The tapas and ever-changing set menus are forth considering.
Tel: 413700, Add: Th Phonsay, Meals: 4 – 6 USD
Run by a French-Lao couple, this big, breezy restaurant northeast of the centre pays homage to the American southwest The heavy wooden furniture and buffalo horns set the scene, and the steaks (USS4.50) and woodfire pizza (US$4.50 to US$6) are worth the trip.
Tel: 222340. Add:Th Sihom. Meals: 1 – 1.5 USD, breakfast, lunch & dinner.
Thai food is both good and cheap. Dishes vary, but the dozen or so prepared dishes might include the delicious (chicken fried holy basil). They’re served with rice – about 1USD for two dishes, an extra 20c for each English sign reads “Thai Food”.
Tel: 415355, Add: corner Th Dong Palan & Th Phonsay. Meals: 3-6USD, breakfast, lunch & dinner
Linda Sathaporn’s three plastic folders filled with picture of their varied tasty Thai dishes make if the trip. It’s very popular with Thais, smart service and large portions it’s easy to see why. Seating is inside or in the more pleasant shaded courtyard out back.
Tel: 219097. Add: Th Fa ngum Street. Meals US$1-2.5; breakfast, lunch & dinner
The food is cheap and many times better than decor. Vegetarian dishes are big draw, the chicken and meat curries are also delicious. Real ice cream is sold outside.
Taj Mahal Restaurant
Tel: 020 5611003. Meals: US$2-4 USD. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, Mon – Sat, dinner Sun.
It looks like a garage, but the Taj Mahal serves what we think is the best Indian food in Vientiane. The prices are very reasonable and there are plenty of vegetarian dishes.
Rashmi’s Indian Fusion
Tel: 251513, Add: corner of Tha Samsenthai and Tha Pangkham street. Meals: 3-6 USD, lunch, dinner
It was only a matter of time before fusion cuisine arrive in Vientiane, but a mix of Indian and Chinese isn’t quite what we expected. It’s actually better than it sounds and it fusion doesn’t appeal there are more traditional Indian offerings too. Letting Rashmi explain the menu is recommended.
JAPANESE and KOREAN
7 Plus Korean Food
Tel: 415 343, Meals: 2 – 5USD, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Korean food here isn’t bad but coming here is mainly about having a night out style. The beer-garden-type place is huge, and with lots of young Lao and 0.70 USD. Beerlao the atmosphere is always up.
Tel: 215 214, Add: Th Heng Boun street. Meals: 2.50 – 4 USD, lunch and dinner Tue – Sun
Run bay young Japanese couple, this restaurant serves tasty, cheap Japanese fusion cuisine in a cool atmosphere-think music bay Bob Dylan. Note there is Shushi or sashimi here.
Tel: 263 118. Add: Th Nongbon. Meals: 5 – 25 USD, lunch and dinner.
Owner by the same people as the Phnom Penh restaurant of the same name, this Pyongyang is even more surreal. Waitress direct from North Korea, trained to sing and dance since childhood, will take your order one minute and step up to the microphone the next to perform perfectly choreographed dance routines and or play electric guitar and drums. It a completes trip
Tel: 222210. Add: Th Luang Prabang. Meals: 6-10 USD, breakfast, lunch, Mon – Sat, dinner daily
Just west of Wat In Paeng, it has an epic menu including all the Japanese favorites and several set meals. Sushi is the specialty and it’s good, but not cheap.
Just for Fun
Tel: 213 642. Add: 51/2 Th Pang Kham. Meals: 1-3USD, breakfast, lunch, dinner Mon – Sat
Offering Thai and Lao cuisine. It also servers Lao coffee and lots of herb teas.
Tel: 215 615. Meals: buffet 1.30 USD, breakfast and lunch
Hidden away behind Talat Sao, this simple restaurant serves pre–cooked but thoroughly recommended vegetarian dishes. Great for a fast, tasty lunch.
Add: 96/4 Th Sethathirat. Opening hours: 7.30 – 9 pm.
This restaurant has a wide selection of imported goods, including canned and frozen foods, magazines, personal hygiene and women’s products such as tampons. There more wide upstairs.
Phimphone Market 2
Tel; 214 609. Add: corner Th Samsenthai and Th Chanta Khumman. Opening hours: 8 am – 8.30 pm
This is a smaller branch of the Phimphone Market.