13 Authentic Vietnamese Restaurants in Minneapolis Worth Every Bite

If there’s anything I’m qualified to write about on the Twin Cities dining scene, it’s authentic Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis. This is one of those frustrating articles that has been staring me straight in the face for years, without me even realizing it.

Growing up in a mixed Vietnamese-American family, I’ve had Vietnamese food everywhere from hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Brooklyn Park to modern fusion kitchens in Minneapolis and my parents’ kitchen in Bloomington with all 11 of my sisters, cousins, and I crowded around our kitchen table (as I type, I’m craving both my mom’s egg rolls and those days).

All to say that I’ve eaten my way through more than one bowl of phở and crispy bánh mì sandwich in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co Vietnamese sandwiches in the Minneapolis St. Paul area.
Pork bánh mì at Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co.

I’m not one for gatekeeping, especially when it comes to a good bite, and supporting the thriving Vietnamese community in the Twin Cities, so it’s time I share the best Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul—and a few popular ones you may want to avoid.

The below restaurants have been frequented by myself, or my Vietnamese family and friends in the Cities.

I have to warn you though—in the words of my Saigonese father when I texted him about this article, he cautioned “You’re going to gain a lot of weight eating at all of (these) restaurants.” I agree, they’re just so good you won’t be able to resist helping yourself to seconds.

Best Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis.

Phở Tầu Bay Restaurant

2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

If there’s one thing that my late grandmother had, it was fantastic taste. Phở Tầu Bay, a humble Eat Street mainstay, was one of her favorite Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis when I was little.

Of course, this was before Eat Street’s massive gentrification and trendy New American and fusion haunts serving up $22 plates arrived. If you want the culture and spirit of what Eat Street (aka a stretch of Nicollet Avenue) used to be, you’ll head to University Ave in St. Paul.

Despite the odds, Phở Tầu Bay has managed to survive and thrive in its straightforward abode.

As the name suggests, the nondescript restaurant is known for making a good bowl of phở, but what diners really rave about are their egg rolls, filled with tender pork and wrapped in crispy rice paper. Other menu items include classic Vietnamese comfort food such as cơm tấm (broken rice).

Vietnamese food at MT Noodles, a Vietnamese restaurant near Minneapolis.
Image: MT Noodles

MT Noodles

8459 W Broadway, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445

Over time, Minnesota’s Vietnamese community moved away from its Eat Street roots and into nearby Brooklyn Park. Now, many of the very best Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis are in Brooklyn Park rather than directly in the city. What can I say, to get the most authentic version of any cuisine, you’ll need to step out to where the community actually is.

MT Noodles is one of those restaurants. The family-run restaurant is known above all for its egg rolls, though its whole menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes has earned high praise from Minnesota’s Vietnamese community (not an easy task) as it includes tons of plates that are difficult to find elsewhere.

Diners have been known to come in from out of state for a taste of the restaurant’s bún chả Hà Nội, which is a nearly impossible dish to find in most of the United States as most of the Vietnamese population here is Người Nam (Southern Vietnamese people).

Other menu highlights include MT Noodles’ nem nướng spring rolls, banh khốt (mini savory rice pancakes), and bò lá lốt (beef wrapped in lolot leaves). Portions are generous, large enough to be split or passed around family style, though it’s so good that you might not want to share.

Lu’s Sandwiches

2624 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

I’ve been frequenting Eat Street for as long as I can remember. Of my earliest memories, those of standing in Lu’s hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop on Eat Street pre-glow up after a visit to my aunt’s optometry practice and eyewear store next door come to mind.

Lu’s Sandwiches has been the go-to bánh mì restaurant in Minneapolis for my family for years. It’s been incredible to see how the once bare-bones Eat Street eatery has turned into a glossy, Minneapolis fast-casual powerhouse for authentic Vietnamese sandwiches in recent years. The grilled pork bánh mì is a local favorite, though their vegetarian-friendly tofu option is also not to be slept on.

Once featured on Adam Richman’s Man v. Food alongside Minnesota native and acclaimed food critic, Andrew Zimmern, Lu’s has received national notoriety. Though Lu’s Sandwiches’ crispy bánh mì certainly aren’t as inexpensive as they were in the early 2000s, they’re still worth every penny.

A bowl of pho at Pho Hoa, a Vietnamese restaurant in Minneapolis.

Pho Hoa Noodle Soup

2450 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

Within the United States, there are just a few national Vietnamese restaurant franchises. Phở Hòa is one of them.

Put your prejudice against chain restaurants away—Phở Hòa is a reliable option for a hearty bowl of phở and other casual Vietnamese dishes.

The restaurant’s dining room is expansive, so it’s usually not too difficult to get a table for lunch or dinner. Prices are relatively reasonable for Eat Street—a regular bowl of phở with run you $11.85. Phở chay, vegetarian phở is less expensive at $9.70.

Phở Hòa is one of the more family-friendly Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis. The casual restaurant offers a “Kids Meal Phở” of phở chín bò viên (pho with brisket and Vietnamese meatballs) along with a soft drink.

To drink, order a sinh tố bơ (avocado shake), a Vietnamese specialty.

Khue’s Kitchen

1914 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55411

Located at Bar Brava.

From Chef Eric Pham of Quang legacy fame comes Khue’s Kitchen, a modern Vietnamese restaurant among the first of its kind in Minneapolis.

Pham reimagines familiar Vietnamese dishes like those his mother, Khue’s family has been serving to the Minneapolis community for over 30 years at Quang. Plates are rooted in home cooking but take on an identity of their own, blending Vietnamese tradition with culinary savoir-faire Pham acquired during his two-year mentorship at Minneapolis fine dining staple, Spoon and Stable.

While prices may be a little higher than some of the Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis on this list, they still feel exceptionally fair—there’s a reason why Khue’s Kitchen has earned itself nothing but five-star reviews.

As it’s so new, Khue’s Kitchen is one of the only restaurants on this list that myself or my family haven’t visited yet, but I’m very excited to get to it on my next trip to Minneapolis.

A croissant at Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co., a Vietnamese restaurant near Minneapolis.

Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co.

8540 Edinburgh Centre Dr, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443

The fact that Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co. operates a banh mi drive-thru is reason enough alone to love this contemporary Brooklyn Park bánh mì shop.

I’ll admit, Mi-Sant’s flashier exterior and drive-thru concept made me skeptical that this ultra-popular Vietnamese restaurant in Brooklyn Park could through down an authentic bánh mì like my favorite street carts in Saigon (I’ve been burned before), but I now hang my head in shame for ever thinking so.

Bread is exactly as it should be— crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Though I would before a little more filling in my tofu bánh mì, the flavor was definitely there. In all fairness, my boyfriend got the grilled pork, which he absolutely raved about, so my plant-forward ways may have skewed my judgment on this one. Locals also love the spring rolls and vermicelli bowls, which I have yet to try.

Prices could be a little better, but considering that this shop attracts the corporate lunch crowd, they’re really very reasonable, especially considering that the restaurant positions itself to be more in line with the fast-casual restaurants of New York than mom-and-pop homestyle joints.

Absolutely not to miss are Mi-Sant’s croissants, which personally, I think are the biggest standout of the whole restaurant. They’re large, fluffy, and perfectly baked. Croissants are available in tons of flavors ranging from coconut and apple to Nutella. You’ll need to be quick to catch a croissant—by the dinner rush, they’re nearly sold out.

Cô Tư Oriental Cuisine

8907 Penn Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55431

Just south of Minneapolis is Cô Tư Oriental Cuisine, hydrating the absolute desert of good Vietnamese restaurants that is the south suburbs. You know the pickings are slim when a quick search yields Indian and Thai restaurants instead of Vietnamese.

The unfussy restaurant is situated in a strip mall locale, attracting families from all across Bloomington looking for authentic Vietnamese fare.

The dining room at Hai Hai, a Southeast Asian restaurant in Minneapolis.

Hai Hai

2121 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

Hai Hai is the most Instagrammable Vietnamese restaurant in Minneapolis by far—I’d go for the vibes, not necessarily the food.

The restaurant’s vibrant decor and upbeat spirit make it a fun spot for cocktails with a date or friends. Floral wallpaper lines the bar, refined by chic wicker lighting and bistro tile.

Chef Christina Nguyen builds a contemporary, playful menu of plates using Southeast Asian flavors as her guide. Vietnamese does seem to be the guiding cuisine, but influence from other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand also make appearances. The fusion-y menu doesn’t seem to be meant as a traditional approach to these cuisines, made obvious by menu generalizations and anglicization.

To be candidly honest, I’ve been to Hai Hai a few times hoping each time the reason for the restaurant’s incredible popularity would click with me, only to walk away confused all over again. The price point feels a little high for the quality, and I’ve never truly loved anything I’ve ordered. It makes me sad because I was so excited for Minnesota to have a trendy Vietnamese spot in the same breath as Van Đa that I love so much in New York.

That said, it’s totally possible that I just haven’t ordered the right plate at Hai Hai yet. Knowing me, I’ll likely be back with the hopes of changing my mind and falling in love again—that’s exactly what happened with Hola Arepa, Chef Nguyen’s other venture. Plus, if you’re not familiar with Southeast Asian cuisine, visiting Hai Hai could be a good way to dip your toe in the water.

In the meantime, Hai Hai is a lively choice for cocktails and small plates in a delightfully aesthetic surrounding (order the salt and pepper tofu). Of the design-forward, trendy restaurants in Minneapolis, the city has yet to have one that reflects its bustling Southeast Asian population. Hai Hai certainly fills that void.

Mandarin

4646 85th Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55443

Mandarin is one of those Vietnamese restaurants that can only be described as so focused on serving the best traditional cuisine that the bad reviews are for the poor service, not the food.

The attention here is on the phở, though the freshly made bún bò Huê (spicy beef noodle soup) also receives high marks from the Vietnamese community, who have compared it to their grandmother’s cooking.

Prices at Mandarin are incredibly fair for the quality. Come for an inexpensive lunch if you’re nearby.

Bowl of pho at Quang Restaurant on Eat Street in Minneapolis.

Quang Restaurant

2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

If you ask any local what the most popular Vietnamese restaurant in Minneapolis is, they’ll overwhelmingly say Quang Restaurant. The longstanding restaurant has been an Eat Street institution since 1989.

I’ve been to Quang Restaurant more times than I can count. Though it was once a hole-in-the-wall family-run restaurant, it’s now a large hotspot attracting a diverse set of locals and the hangover crowd.

Still, the restaurant serves up solid Vietnamese classics, even if they aren’t necessarily the very best in the city. If you need a reliable Vietnamese restaurant in Minneapolis, stop by Quang.

Pho Ca Dao

439 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55103

This no-frills Vietnamese restaurant in St. Paul takes its namesake seriously. You can build your own phở by selecting up to three different types of meat for it. All bowls come with the mandatory platter of phở toppings like Thai basil, bean sprouts, lime, and jalepeño.

Although you won’t find many other Vietnamese entreés on the menu (save for an order of egg rolls for $3.50), you will find several Vietnamese drinks and desserts including some of my favorites like chè ba màu, chanh muối, and sinh tố (I describe these in my guide to street food in Saigon).

Reviews label Pho Ca Dao as some of the best phở in Minnesota. Plant-based diners should note that Pho Ca Dao is not vegan or vegetarian-friendly. Only beef broth and meat toppings are available on its limited menu.

Although Pho Ca Dao is in neighboring St. Paul, not Minneapolis, I’d be doing you a disservice by not including a couple of St. Paul Vietnamese restaurants on this list. The city has some of the state’s best Vietnamese food thanks to the large concentration of Vietnamese people in the Little Mekong neighborhood.

Lotus Restaurant

113 W Grant St, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Like Quang, Lotus Restaurant is by far one of the most popular Vietnamese restaurants in Minneapolis.

The restaurant has built up a loyal following over its many years in Minneapolis. It serves expected Vietnamese dishes like phở, cơm tấm, and bún chả giò along with tons of Chinese-American favorites like lo mein, chow fun, and General Tso’s chicken. Also in the mix is pad thai, though seemingly no other Thai plates can be found.

In another parallel to Quang, food quality is reliable, but not necessarily the very best Minneapolis has to offer.

The Lotus is included in this list because it’s one of the very few Vietnamese restaurants within a walkable distance from Downtown Minneapolis (a few others have popped up in Downtown recently, though they’re still a little too new to judge). It got me through an extremely emotional, mentally tough performance day at the State Theatre when I was still dancing and needed a comforting taste of home during the middle of a blizzard, and for that, I’ll always be grateful.

Trieu Chau Restaurant

500 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55103

Trieu Chau is one of the staple restaurants on St. Paul’s University Avenue. Unfortunately, it’s one of the few restaurants on this list that I’ve yet to make it to myself, however, it frequently receives high commendation from the local Vietnamese community for its rich pho broth, which leans towards the sweet side.

Also popular at this wood-paneled Vietnamese joint are its egg rolls and bún (vermicelli salad) options.

Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co Vietnamese sandwiches in the Minneapolis St. Paul area.

Discover more of the best bites in Minneapolis by clicking here or the links below:

14 Best Trendy Date Night Restaurants in the Twin Cities

16 Best Places for Late Night Food in Minneapolis and Saint Paul

22 Best Restaurants for Breakfast and Brunch in Minneapolis and St. Paul

BEST Pizza in Minneapolis: 12 Must-Go Twin Cities Pizza Places

11 Indulgent Italian Restaurants in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Twirl-Worthy Pasta and Pizza

xx,
E

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