The quirky greenhouse-inspired cafe in Ba Dinh District is one of the most photogenic cafés that Hanoi has to offer. Its interior is filled with cutesy decorations that seem to suggest someone just discovered Pinterest’s DIY section and went wild. Beer-bottle chandeliers and pinecone mobiles dangle above patrons’ heads. Wooden chairs, haphazardly painted with strips of blue and green, look like they were lifted from some hip farmer’s tool shed. A polished dining table holds miniature terrariums, potted plants and knickknacks, like a Totoro figurine tugging a cart with a tiny succulent inside.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a garden without some green. Dozens of hanging plants line the fully windowed front wall, which looks out onto a sizable outdoor patio and bar. The staff takes turns caring for their neediest patrons, carefully spritzing them with water in between orders.
The concrete walls and floor give it an urban basement feel, but the presence of so many wooden decorations and plants brings it back to earth. At 1pm on a weekday, half of the café is filled with groups of friends quietly chatting, and the other half is sporting headphones and plugging away on laptops. Judging by the many Instagram photos tagged at Gardenista, it is also popular among Vietnamese fashion bloggers.
Indoor Peace, Outdoor Charm
The café is in a gated area, but for those seeking complete peace and quiet away from the busy Kim Ma Street, grabbing an indoor table is essential. All orders must be placed at the outdoor bar, which slows down the flow of service, but it’s not a deal breaker. At night, the outdoor patio becomes more charming, illuminated by lights strung between the trees. While the allure of Gardenista is its escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, it’s also practical where it counts. All the concrete tree planters on the outdoor patio have electrical outlets.
The menu boasts a large selection of reasonably priced drinks, including both Western and Vietnamese coffees, hot chocolate, fruit lassis, fresh juices and smoothies. It offers standard fast-food fare and, for those with a sweet tooth, ice cream and a few varieties of cake. The cappuccino (VND46,000) was smooth and frothy, and came with a soft cookie that was perfect for dunking. I also tried a slice of chocolate Kahlua cake (VND34,000), which had a light and airy flavour and texture, similar to mousse. The chocolate garnish on top was a nice touch.
It’s easy to get lost in the green, serene atmosphere of Gardenista. Whether you’re alone or with company, it’s the perfect café for writing, lounging or making your Instagram followers jealous.
Gardenista is at 50 Van Bao, Ba Dinh, Hanoi