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Dalat dining is pretty basic. Meals are simply prepared and heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. The huge variety of local ingredients, particularly fruit and vegetables, makes for fresh food. Many small restaurants are located at Phan Dinh Phung Street, but some of the best dining, according to locals, is at the many stalls in the central market. Try the artichoke tea and strawberry jam, two local specialties (and good souvenirs to take home from the market). In the evenings, look for the small stalls selling delicious-flavored soy drinks on the main road near the central market.

Cafes

Nguyen Chi Thanh Street is lined with cafes, one indistinguishable from another in many ways. Each building hangs over the main market street, and all serve ice cream, tea, and beer to cuddling couples and backpackers. Try Artista Cafe, at 9 Nguyen Chi Thanh St. (tel. 063/382-1749), for some good ice cream, classic rock, and friendly folks. A couple doors down is Café Galy, which pretty much has the same menu, but has a fun purple exterior and stained-glass windows.

Peace Cafe, 64 Truong Cong Dinh St. (tel. 063/382-2787), is the heart of backpacker Dalat -- an institution, really. Surrounded by the town's most popular budget guesthouses and minihotels, Peace Cafe is where to go to meet Dalat's Easy Riders for tours of the countryside and beyond.

For a peek into the local art scene, see if you can find Mr. MPK (you have to ask him what it means). He makes his home at the back of a little villa guesthouse overlooking a beautiful valley (Khach San Van Khanh; 11/8 Khoi Nghia Bac Son, up in the hills near the Bao Dai Palace II). MPK is an inspired photographer, best when he's up close to his subject. He shoots with an old rusty camera and turns the lens backwards, shooting through a rough-hewn tube to get incredible macro close-ups. Have a coffee, peruse his photos, and buy something (if he's selling), for a unique visit.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.