In the old days, it was said that the emperors were always looking to find the finest chefs in the empire and to move them to Hue. This movement of chefs from the different regions of Vietnam allowed for the fusing of many new and different regional flavors and textures with the more traditional Hue dishes.
There are some nice restaurants southeast of the Perfume River as well as on the Citadel side of the river.
Downtown Hue has some tourist restaurants with typical western food (pizza and pasta), but many visitors prefer to stick to local dishes as they are outstanding and delicious.
Cafe on Thu Wheels Restaurant run by the lovely and energetic Thu and is particularly liked by the backpackers who love to come here and enjoy live satellite English football with plenty of chilled beer. Located on 10/2 Nguyen Tri Phuong, in the alley next to Omar Khayyam's Indian restaurant.
Tel: +84 (54) 832241
The friendly, family-run, Lac Thien Restaurant is one of the best in Hue in which to try the most famous local dishes, banh khoai (a type of stuffed crepe, accompanied by peanut sauce) and nem lui. Tel: +84 (54) 52 7348. Lac Thanh Restaurant is on the corner, next door to Lac Thien Restaurant. It is run by a family of deaf-mutes and offers delicious Vietnamese food.
Tel: +84 (54) 824674
Mandarin Café on 24 Tran Cao Van, is at the centre of Hue's backpacking community. This friendly, unassuming café serves up cheap, excellent Vietnamese and Western fare, and also hosts Sinh Café's booking desk, where you can book boat trips, car/bike hire, and tour information.
Tel: +84 (54) 821281
Paradise Garden offers a full menu, allowing one to try out different Hue-style dishes at an affordable price. Paradise Garden serves Vietnamese, Chinese, and Indian dishes in addition to local specialties – but it is those local specialties that make the lunch, snack, or dinner there. Located on the river edge promenade street near the Trang Tien bridge (which changes colour at night), the restaurant has a covered as well as a courtyard dining area.
Tel: +84 (54) 38 38485
The DMZ Bar was named after the demilitarized zone of the 17th parallel that once divided Vietnam.
Located on the main hotel and restaurant street in Hue, and close to two of the major riverfront hotels, the DMZ is a casual place with a pool table that offers a good choice of Vietnamese and some Italian food.
Tel: +84 (54) 38 23414
Tropical Garden Restaurant is on 27 Chu Van An Street and is a popular tour-bus stopover but it nevertheless has a cozy atmosphere. It serves fine Vietnamese fare from a good English-language menu, and there is live music nightly. Dishes at Tropical Garden include banana flower soup, steamed crab with beer, and grilled minced shrimp with sugarcane wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce.
Tel: +84 (54) 847143