Holy Cow…Ho Chi Minh City Restaurants and Bars
Editors Note 2016: Sorry guys the Spotted Cow has closed down. After all those years, who would have thought? It looks like the Vietnam Swans have now been adopted by the Champion Sports Bar a bit further up the street at 45 Bui Vien. If you want to watch the footy, they should have it on. The Universal Bar at 90 Bui Vien is also an excellent venue to catch a game.
The Spotted Cow is one of THE iconic Ho Chi Minh City restaurants and bars in the budget tourist area between Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien Streets. It’s not likely you’d walk straight past it in Bui Vien because it’s painted up with very big….COW SPOTS! The theme continues as you walk in the door, but it’s not overdone to the point of being Kitsch.
The “Cow” has been around in Ho Chi Minh City since 2007. You know they must be doing something right if they’ve survived for so long in an industry where businesses shut down and reopen entirely different almost overnight. Owned by an Aussie Expat, the bar caters to tourists, other Expats, and locals who want a taste of Western Culture with a Vietnamese twist. I know it seems strange reviewing a “Western Bar” on a Vietnamese highlights site but in my experience, after a frantic few days of eating everything Vietnamese, most people start to crave a little taste of familiar. The thought of a Burger, Ribs or pizza; a peek at the football from back home and peace and quiet from the hustle and ‘Bustle of HCMC is quite alluring, even just for a short time.
There’s a Gazillion places you can get a burger, pizza and fries around town but they aren’t always very good. We usually have a policy of eating what the locals eat because it’s cheaper, fresher and better but The Spotted Cow put this idea to rest with a great menu at reasonable prices made even better by their daily specials. On Mondays nights you can have 59 000VND ($3 USD) pasta meals; Tuesdays 2 for 1 Cheeseburgers all day; Wednesdays 2 for 1 Pizzas all day; Thursday nights 59 000VND fish and chips, and Sundays 99 000 VND ($5) chicken dinners. There’s also a specials board with specialties such as BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders, Prawn and Avocado Bruschetta and Barramundi Puttanesca; none of which cost more than the equivalent of $5 USD.
In the evenings, there’s always something going on. Darts night, Quiz night on the Rooftop and, of course, live football telecasts. If you’re wanting to neutralize some of the holidays stress c caused by a full day site seeing, head in for 99 000 VND jugs of cocktails, half price Mojitos, 2 for one bloody Mary’s and 3L Tiger Beer towers for 250 000 VND on selected nights.
The bar is also the unofficial club rooms of the Vietnam Swans, the local representatives in the AFL Asia League. These guys do a great job raising money for local charities that don’t get noticed by the usual NGO’s. Take a look at their site for details of the next match, and their latest cause.
The other reason I like this place is that the staff have been here a long time. I’ve just returned but remember many of their faces from back in 2011. They know how to treat their customers (WELL), are efficient with their service and 99% of the time have a big happy smile to greet you. This makes your visit a good one from the moment you enter. Free wifi means you can sit in air-conditioned comfort, have a great meal, a few drinks, and tell all the folks back home what a great time you’re having in Ho Chi Minh City restaurants and bars. Who knows, you might even run into me…if you do, come over and say hello and I’ll give you some more great hints about where to go in this amazing city.
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