Travel Through Time At These 5 Vintage Hanoi Cafes | Vietcetera

Travel Through Time At These 5 Vintage Hanoi Cafes

In celebration of the capital city’s recent reopening of coffee shops after weeks-long lockdown, check out five of them with a signature vintage Hanoi ambiance.

Travel Through Time At These 5 Vintage Hanoi Cafes

Source: Han Nguyen for Vietcetera

Cafes (locally known as cà phê), to anyone who grew up in Hanoi, are characterized by weathered walls of nostalgia, tucked away in tiny nooks and crannies of the humble old quarter. So in celebration of the capital city’s recent reopening of coffee shops after weeks-long lockdown, why not check out five of them with a signature vintage Hanoian ambiance, where you can unwind and get lost in time? 

Cà phê Thái — Tale of a white coffee

Cà phê Thái was founded in 1926, beloved and frequented by generations of Hanoians. | Source: Foody

The space 

  • 95-year-old Cà phê Thái was founded in 1926, beloved and frequented by generations of Hanoians.
  • Distinguished by their time-worn patchy wall and mini colorful plastic stools on the sidewalk.
  • Always sizzling, never stifling.
  • Thái has recently installed a mural printed “Đến Hà Nội làm cốc nâu” (Come to Hanoi, have a cup of white coffee), a popular backdrop for souvenir photos among the youth.
  • Must-try experience: sit back on the sidewalk of Trieu Viet Vuong Street and observe fall foliage in Hanoi, over a cup of white coffee, in the company of your dearest. Now that’s as authentically Hanoian as it can get here!
Thái is one of the few cafes left in Hanoi that still manually roast coffee over an open fire like in the old days. | Source: vnexpress

The menu

  • Traditional menu with different coffee types, lemonade, kudzu powder drink.
  • Coffee beans are sourced from three Vietnamese terroirs: the great north, the spiceful central and the hypnotizing highlands.
  • Thái is one of the few cafes left in Hanoi that still manually roast coffee over an open fire like in the old days. This method brings depth and intensity to the aroma and flavor of the drink.
  • Must-try item: white coffee (cà phê nâu).
Thái's famous mural. | Source: Đi Cà Phê Không

Address: 27 Trieu Viet Vuong Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi

Opening hours: 7 am – 11 pm

Price: 18.000 VND – 40.000 VND

Parking: At the storefront

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Nola Cafe — Tale of a tiny nook

One of the best seats in the house has to be by the window. | Source: Đi Cà Phê Không

The space

  • Nola is a bit of a hidden gem, lying deep down an alley and another narrow hallway. But past all that and you’ll find yourself in a nostalgic hideaway from the city’s hustle and bustle, in the heart of the old quarters.
  • Lose yourself in an ambiance that can only be described as truly vintage Hanoian, with big French-Indochina glass windows overlooking the greenery outside.
  • There are three floors, each with their own flair, complementing each other like parts of a painting.
  • The best time to visit Nola is the afternoon, and the best seat in the house has to be by the window or on the rooftop.
Nola's selling point is their colorful rooftop umbrella collection. | Source: Nola

The menu

  • Vast selection of coffee, tea, juice and smoothie.
  • Must-try item: fresh fruit smoothie.

Address: 89 Ma May Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening hours: 10 am – 11 pm

Price: 50.000 VND

Parking: Outside, surveilled

Glass windows framing the green shades of Indian almond trees looking like a picture. | Source: Nola

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Loading T — Tale of a historical mansion

Loading T nestles in a charming 20th century, French-Indochina style mansion built in 1930. | Source: Truong Photo

The space

  • Loading T nestles in a charming 20th century, French-Indochina style mansion built in 1930.
  • Step through their door and you might just feel like this coffee house transcends time, the interior and atmosphere of which are a beauty of the past that pays homage to Hanoi’s millennium-long history.
View of the busy streets from Loading T's balcony. | Source: Loading T

The menu

  • Vast selection of coffee, tea, juice and smoothie.
  • Must-try item: Aromatic egg coffee that’s just the right note of sweetness and decadence. The smooth and silky cream is masterfully blended to conceal any overpowering raw egg flavor that more sensitive taste buds might pick up. This order comes with a guide to enjoying egg coffee the local way. We recommend a refreshing side of kumquat tea to wash it all down.
Loading T's vintage Hanoian set-up. | Source: Loading T

Address: 8 Chan Cam Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi 

Opening hours: 8 am – 10 pm

Price: ~ 50.000 VND

Parking: On the left side of the building. Feel free to ask the enthusiastic nearby vendors for directions!

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Chốn Cafe — Tale of an old collective living complex

Chốn occupies a space in an old collective living complex in the Xom Ha Hoi neighborhood. | Source: Chốn

The space

  • Chốn occupies a space in an old collective living complex in Hanoi.
  • An open common drying area is used at the same time for bike parking — perhaps a bizarre sight to see for many.
  • A rustic, tranquil and welcoming setting, with furniture thrifted from all parts of the country, for people from all walks of life.
A rustic, tranquil and welcoming setting. | Source: Đi Cà Phê Không

The menu

  • Featuring tea, coffee and baked goods.
  • Must-try item: “Koi” Cafe with handmade milk foam and condensed milk.
Cacao harvested in Dalat and processed with Japanese technology at Chốn. | Source: Chốn

Address: 36 Xom Ha Hoi, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening hours: 8 am – 6 pm

Price: 35.000 VND – 65.000 VND

Parking: At the abovementioned drying area

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Cà phê Hai Bốn — Tale of a Hanoian’s homeliness

Lying humbly on Hàng Mành Street. | Source: Cà Phê Hai Bốn

The space

  • Cà phê Hai Bốn isn’t a spacious one, so watch out or you’ll miss it lying humbly on Hàng Mành Street.
  • Although, its layout is impressive given the size, with an open floor plan concept on both storeys.
Don't miss out on their craft coffee! | Source: Cà Phê Hai Bốn

The menu

  • Coffee is the star drink at Hai Bốn, but there are also options of tea and juice.
  • Must-try experience: Craft coffee, which will highlight the different, distinct aroma and flavors of the beans: sweet, sour, salty, bitter…
  • Must-try item: Peach Americano, the best of both worlds: coffee’s traditional bitterness combined with peach’s mild sourness and fruity fragrance. 
Cà Phê Hai Bốn also serves some fine wine. | Source: Cà Phê Hai Bốn

Address: 3 Hang Manh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

Opening hours: 7 am – 11 pm

Price: 28.000 VND – 90.000 VND

Parking: At the storefront

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Translated by Jennifer Nguyen