It is truly an extension of the road, jutting out from Nghi Tam’s dyke and nestled between a car dealership and a repair shop. A year ago, Sidewalk’s large courtyard lot was a functioning carwash.
Scanning the bar on a recent Saturday evening, Lan Huong, Sidewalk’s co-owner / partner, points out bits of recycled décor. “I saw a guy rolling one of those down the street and followed him,” she says, motioning towards the bar’s tables, which are repurposed industrial cable spools. “And see those traffic signs over there?” An epic cop chase was involved in their procurement.
Something for Everyone
Huong runs the bar with Luong Van Mao, a Hanoi bar scene veteran and the man behind Mao’s Red Lounge. The two friends got together with the common goal of creating a casual and comfortable outdoor watering hole for the community.
Huong and Mao never want the prices to be prohibitive; they want Sidewalk to be the kind of place that you can frequent without going broke. With beers from VND25,000 and cocktails starting at VND80,000 — plus lots of rotating drink specials — you won’t feel like you’re getting ripped off.
As spring boils into summer, expect to see bia hoi-style all-you-can-drink nights, open mics, daytime BBQs and expanded food offerings ranging from hearty salads to Cuban sandwiches to milkshakes.
Speaking of food, the bar menu at Sidewalk goes above and beyond the typical Hanoi bar’s jerky and nuts. I devoured a heavenly steak sandwich (VND80,000), which contained an entire steak doused in a perfectly spicy and tangy sauce, and will absolutely be returning to eat my way through the rest of the ever-growing menu.
The delightfully friendly and cool (read: tattooed) bartenders are eager to stir or shake up a cocktail to your liking; the cocktail list is extensive, full of the classics. The whiskey sour is deliciously smooth; the Martini nice and dirty. The cocktails are simple, and to the point — like everything else at Sidewalk, they’re not trying too hard.
Whether you’re there on a Tuesday or a Saturday, trust that you’ll enjoy yourself. Weeknights, Sidewalk exudes laid-back chill, and weekends, the crowd gets bumping as a rotating roster of DJs spin everything from reggae to hip-hop to swing.
As the name implies, there’s no indoor seating at Sidewalk — a bold move for a Hanoi bar.
“We’re so grateful to people who have been supportive of us no matter how cold or rainy the weather,” Huong explains. “We’ve been so lucky that people just want to see us stay open.”
“And in the summer?” I asked.
“We’re getting fans.” — Noey Neumark
The Sidewalk Hanoi — Bar & Grill is at 199D Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Hanoi