Hoi An is a charming town on the Central coast of Vietnam and is renowned for its gorgeous historic architecture, chilled out beach vibes, and mouthwatering street food. Vietnam is a long, mountainous country and each region has its own distinctive ingredients, flavors, and dishes. Specifically, central Vietnam is known for its coconut coffee, banh mi, and cao lầu, a pork and noodle dish. While these dishes traditionally contain meat and other animal products, vegan travelers, like me and my husband, will delight in the myriad of options of these traditional dishes on seemingly every lanterned street corner here.
As a general protip, for an easy way to sniff out vegan options in Vietnam, you can keep a lookout for places that say “chay”, the Vietnamese word for vegetarian, which, in my experience, is interpreted by some to mean vegan (due to Vietnam’s Buddhist roots), while in other instances, may be interpreted to mean ovolactovegetarian. Sometimes, in Southeast Asia, seemingly innocuous dishes, like black coffee, can contain fish, butter, or other dairy derivatives (with respect to coffee, the beans can be roasted in these ingredients to add extra flavor)- so, as a rule of thumb, it’s pretty much always best to ask! That being said, Vietnam has TONS of delicious options if you know where to look for them (see all the yumminess we encountered in Ho Chi Minh City here).
While there’s plenty to keep you busy during your time in Hoi An , my favorite way to travel is through my stomach. So let’s get to it- here’s where I’d recommend checking out in Hoi An for some tasty vegan eats- and some of the places that weren’t quite up to snuff.
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Located in front of Mì Quãng cô Đào Hội An Quãng Nam 20K Ngon, 25 Đường Phan Bội Châu, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
I cannot claim to have found this place myself- in fact, it’s so far off-the-beaten path, I can’t find it online! Our tour guide from Hoi An Kayak Tours took us here after a sunrise paddle (see more about our sunrise kayaking tour with them here) and, let it be known that this food cart, in front of (or part of?) the Mì Quãng cô Đào restaurant, was UNBELIEVABLY delicious.
After hours of paddling along the Thu Bồn River, the bún chay (vermicelli noodle salad with tofu skins, zesty basil, and peanuts) was beyond revitalizing and there’s nothing that screams “I’m in the middle of Vietnam!” quite like sitting on those tiny red plastic stools, shoving noodles into your mouth and watching motorbikers zoom by.
Since I can’t confirm the hours (… or even existence) of this place online, I’d recommend meandering over here if you’re not time-crunched or already doing something close by (I wouldn’t even recommend it if it wasn’t SO. GOOD.). Make sure to swing by Mia Coffee (20 Phan Boi Chau Street, Hoi An 560000 Vietnam) across the street afterwards for a Vietnamese coffee (they have soy milk, a rare commodity in Vietnam!), best to enjoy while sunning yourself on the second floor balcony.
Perhaps this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone but me, but it turns out that tour guides (at least the ones I’ve encountered in Vietnam) have some of the BEST restaurant/food recommendations (yes, even vegan ones)- one of my favorite foodie experiences was arranged for us by our guide (who appeared to be decidedly not vegan) when we took a Mekong Delta tour with Vespa Adventures from Ho Chi Minh City (you can read more about your experience here).
Avos & Mangos
82 Thái Phiên, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam 51000, Vietnam
First of all, if this is your first time traveling north of Ho Chi Minh City, let me introduce you to one of my favorite beverages on the planet- COCONUT COFFEE! It’s basically like rich coffee blended into a frothy coconut smoothie (many places include condensed milk in this drink so I’d recommend double checking with each establishment). Avos & Mangos has a very Instagrammable (and more importantly, delicious) example of this treat, in addition to a variety of smoothie bowls and of course, avocado and mango toast. This is not a vegan-only spot so be sure to specify when ordering any food or drinks.
To be honest, the only reason I originally stopped at this café was its free WiFi I needed to get some work done, but immediately noticed the Happy Cow sign posted by the door. It definitely caters to tourists and digital nomads, so know that, going in, it definitely has some strong Western (albeit super cute and curated) vibes and slightly higher prices, relatively speaking.
28/2 Tran Hung Dao, Hoi An
Tucked up an alleyway on a busy road, this bohemian café, with lots of earthy outdoor tables and dangling plants, is the perfect spot to read a book, crank out some work, or simply caffeinate for the upcoming day. While it can often be a mystery in Vietnam whether even the black coffee you’re imbibing is vegan, as noted above, your conscious can be free here- their motto is “the art of coffee in your cup”, so only the best beans, sans butter- or fish- flavoring, will make its way to your cup.
This spot is famous for its ice cube coffee, where three thick chunks of iced coffee is served with a steamed glass of your milk of choice (they offer oat as a milk alternative).
I would consider this more of a coffee spot than anything else, as it mostly serves pastries and other light fare (containing milk and eggs). However, they had some yummy-sounding smoothie bowls that appeared to be veganizable if you’re feeling peckish.
Lunch and Dinner
I’ll preface this by saying we had a LOT of banh mi in Hoi An. Traditionally in Vietnam, banh mi is eaten at breakfast, but during my time there, it seems like everyone was partaking in this treat around the clock. While we ate banh mi because, well, it’s delicious, it’s also universally really affordable (usually no more than $1 USD at the shops recommended below). So I hope you guys are in the mood for some crusty baguettes, spicy tofu, and a great bargain!
Phi Banh Mi
This stall feels like you’re ordering banh mi and grabbing a Larue beer from the fridge in your sweet uncle’s tiny living room, amongst family wedding photos and newspaper clippings on the wall. There’s only one vegan option here, but it is LEGIT- a crusty baguette, stuffed with tofu, avocado (make sure you request this instead of cheese), and lots of delicious chili sauce. The owner is friendly and will instantly know what “vegan” means, which is always a pleasant surprise in Southeast Asia!
What Else Café
10/1 Nguyen Tho Minh Khai, Cam Pho, Hoi An, Vietnam
This garden café, dripping with lush botanicals, is again tucked down a quiet alleyway off the beaten typical tourist path of Old Town. They have a robust separate vegan menu, featuring Vietnamese and pan-Asian cuisine, including vegan cao lầu. We elected to get summer rolls and a vegetarian hot pot (and a couple of Larue, of course), which were delicious.
Note for budget travelers- the food is definitely a bit on the “pricey” side for Vietnam (e.g., 150000 VND for a hot pot for two or $6.50 USD), but, with the combination of tasty food and the breezy open-air atmosphere, it’s perfect for a casual date night.
Banh Mi Phuong
2b Phan Chu Trinh, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam 560000, Vietnam
Banh Mi Phuong is kind of famous around Hoi An and beyond, due to two little words: Anthony Bourdain. After Bourdain proclaimed Phuong’s sandwich as the best in Vietnam, the once-tiny street cart has now transformed into a two story restaurant, constantly flanked by throngs of tourists and locals alike. Again, your only option here is the vegan banh mi- but it’s truly the only option you need, piled high with savory tofu, peanuts, and rich chili-laden sauce. What makes the banh mi so special (spoiler alert: I ranked it as the best banh mi in Hoi An) is the bread- impossibly crusty on the outside and a pillowy, yeasty delight on the inside.
Bottom line- don’t be deterred by the line; it’s quick-moving and most definitely worth it.
Banh Mi Queen
115 Trần Cao Vân, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Madame Khanh, who helms this stall and is THE Banh Mi Queen of Hoi An, has been slinging sandwiches here for 50 years. She is renowned in Hoi An for her banh mi’s consistent excellency, which has been retained, in part, by her sticking with four simple options, including a vegetarian one. When we asked for a vegan banh mi, we were delivered a crunchy baguette stuffed with chili-glazed tofu (the tastiest “meat” of all the ones we had in Hoi An) and topped with fresh, flavorful veggies.
Word to the wise- we hit this shop up around 13:00 and they only had enough tofu left for one sandwich, so I’d recommend going a bit earlier in the day to ensure you get that good stuff.
Street vendors hawking tao pho (tofu pudding) can be found around Hoi An’s Night Market or along the Hoai River. Tao pho is a silky and surprisingly delicious blend of silken tofu, spicy and sweet ginger syrup, white jelly, and coconut milk. Definitely a not-to-be-missed, unique taste of Southeast Asia for your sweet tooth.
I hope you find Hoi An as charming (and delicious!) as I did- did you find any other vegan gems around town that I should check out next time? Let me know in the comments below!