Saturday, June 11, 2011


Oh, fair Margherita, how could we have gone so long without mentioning you?  Located in the heart of the Pham, at 175/1 Pham Ngu Lao, Margherita provides both locals and backpackers cures for their beer and munchies cravings, offering barely authentic Tex-Mex, Italian and Vietnamese dishes.  The food is nothing to write home about, but it hits the spot every time and often is a jumping off place for nights out.

My personal favorite food items are from the Tex-Mex section.   I have ordered the vegetarian chimichangas (deep fried burritos) more times than I would like to count.  The guacamole is admittedly sub-par, but lacquer it on anything deep fried and you have a winner.  The quesadillas are mediocre at best, but add a little hot sauce, and you're in a road-side diner in El Paso.  We have dabbled in the Italian options a few times and have found that the pizzas aren't necessarily awful for Saigonese standards.  Some of their pastas are even tasty if you don't mind congealing your arteries with the cream and cheese loaded into every dish.  Never quite satisfying, yet never disappointing, Margherita is convenient, consistent, and cautiously recommended.

After taking a hiatus, we decided to recently rediscover Margherita - only this time heading to the upstairs' dining area.  Tucked into a cozy attic recess with a protuberant, rickety balcony is a lovely little vegetarian off-shoot of the backpacker (and grizzled ex-pat) paradise below.  Loaded with classic vegan-ized Vietnamese dishes, as well as the Western veggie options from downstairs, the menu is thick, thick, thick. What especially stood out to us was the massive array of soups - it appeared as though they have one for every single vegetable!

On a recent trip, Gavin ordered a stir-fried imitation chicken dish along with white rice.  I stuck to one of my favorite dishes, clay pot stewed tofu along with some water spinach.  We enjoyed our dishes and plan to return on future trips to the Pham.  There are undoubtedly better vegetarian deals to be had in this expansive city, but if you are in the area...

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