Tainan in Southwestern Taiwan is a historic city/county. Its where the Dutch set up their colony in Taiwan and where the Qing Dynasty established the island’s capital when they took it over from the Dutch. The city has many important historic sites from the Dutch Colonial Era, the Qing Dynasty and Japanese Colonial Era. It is most definitely an important place to visit to understand Taiwan’s history, culture and people. But Tainan is also famous island-wide for its food. Some say its the street food capital of Taiwan.
With so many choices, it can be hard to pick and choose which spots to go to. Below are a list of places, most of which I’ve tried and tested but some of which come highly regarded online and by word of mouth.
Most places are cash only. Increasingly more places have multi-language menus including English, almost all have pictures so if all else fails point! Some places have rebranded/renovated, others remain unchanged for decades. People in Southern Taiwan are known for being far friendlier and hospitable than the North and its true. While street food moves at a fast pace here, most owners are still genuinely friendly and welcoming. As always, go in with an open mind and discover the wonders of Tainan’s food scene. If you happen to arrive at a spot right at its opening time, be prepared to wait a while for their main item to be ready, as sometimes places open first thing in the morning but things can take a while to steam/cook/smoke until ready.
Many folks do a day-trip to Tainan just to eat! But if its your first time, I highly recommend staying over night to not only explore the food (night markets and some stalls only open at night) but also the history and sites around town. One hotel that is popular is Silk Place Tainan. You should definitely go with a group of people to maximize trying as many dishes and spots as you can, easy to split dishes at each stop. My friend and I recently did a day-trip and we stopped at around 10-12 places.
Getting to Tainan
The fastest and easiest way from Taipei is by Taiwan High Speed Rail. It takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours, depending on every stop local or key stop local train service. One-way standard tickets are NTD$1350 (USD$47), you can book online, on the app or at station kiosks, and English available all around. The THSR system is efficient, safe, comfortable and easy to navigate. The other options are of course local regular Taiwan rail or by car, which can take anywhere from 5-6 hours depending on traffic. Tianan also has an airport with seasonal international flights but it mainly is an airport for flights to outer islands like Penghu and Kinmen.
Getting Around Tainan
This part is a tad more tricky. If you’re driving to Tainan, not a problem. If taking train, then it can be a tad more difficult. One way is to definitely rent a car from the rail stations (THSR and Tainan station are separate and located in very different parts of town). Parking around downtown can be tricky, but once you are downtown the food stops are mostly walkable from each other, so I’d just find a spot and walk. However, most of the street food places below are more or less within walking distance from each other. I recommend taking a taxi or even booking an all-day driver to whisk you around. Once you get to your first stop though, things can be a tad trickier. Within inner-city Tainan, ubers are available. However once you get more outside such as to areas like AnPing Fort, there are basically none to be found, and taxis can become infrequent as well. There are buses that do run on time and on schedule and take Easy-Pass cards. So that is another option too. This is a long-winded way to say, be prepared to wait or spend a bit of time finding transportation if you do venture outside the main downtown area.
Win Cang Beef Soup 文章牛肉湯
Probably the most famous spot in Tainan. Known for selling one of Tainan’s specialties, Beef Soup. And this spot is really quite good, they also have braised ground beef rice and many other dishes to choose from, however, arrive early to avoid long lines and limited items being sold out.
No. 590號, Anping Road, Anping District, Tainan City, Taiwan 708
10AM-2AM, for holidays and weekends head to their new store on No. 300 Anping Road.
阿財牛肉湯 Ah-Cai Beef Soup
Another place that came highly recommended for Tianan Beef Soup
No. 5 GuBao Street, Anping District, Tainan City, Taiwan, 708
同記安平豆花安平2店 TongJi An-Ping Tofu Pudding
They also have a downtown location now. A place for tasty homemade tofu pudding and shaved ice dessert. Including Charcoal tofu pudding.
No. 141-6號, Anbei Road, Anping District, Tainan City, Taiwan 708
德興鱔魚意麵 DeXing Eel Noodles
No. 112號, Section 1, Lin’an Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
5-8PM, Closed Sundays
老正牌 • 阿堯師雞蛋糕
No. 522, Wenxian Road, North District, Tainan City, Taiwan 704
Hours vary, check google or facebook
二哥炒鱔魚 Er-Ge Eel Noodles
No. 33之3號, Section 3, Hai’an Road, North District, Tainan City, Taiwan 704
4:30PM-12:30AM, closed Tues
阿公阿婆蛋餅 Ah Gong Ah Po breakfast crepe
701, Taiwan, Tainan City, East District, 小東路198巷10號
5:30AM-:1230PM Closed mondays
無名米糕 No Name Sticky Rice
English menu available! May have to wait for the sticky rice to be ready if arriving right at 9:30AM.
No. 5號, Lane 8, Zhongshan Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
9:30AM-3PM; 5-8PM, Closed Sundays
Chun taste Job’s tear Soup Shop 椿之味薏仁湯
No. 68號, Qingnian Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
老黃陽春麵 Lao Huang Noodles
No. 38, Section 1, Fuqian Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
6AM-3PM, Closed Sun
進福炒鱔魚專家 Jin Fu Eel Noodles
No. 46號, Section 1, Fuqian Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
阿龍意麵 Ah-Long Noodles
No. 60號, Section 1, Fuqian Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
10:30AM-9PM, Closed Thurs
圓環頂肉粽菜粽 Yuan-Huan Rice Dumplings
No. 40, Section 1, Fuqian Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
双生綠豆沙牛奶 Shuànsên beverages
Mung bean (green bean) milkshake. English menu available.
No. 281號, Section 2, Minzu Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
11AM-6PM, closed Mon/Tues
金得春捲 JinDe Taiwanese Spring Rolls
No. 19號, Section 3, Minzu Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
7AM-5PM, Closed Tuesday
台南一味品碗粿魚羹 Tianan YiWeiPing Rice Cake
No. 177號, Section 3, Guohua St, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
5AM-5PM, Closed Tues
富盛號碗粿 FuShengHao Rice Cake
Supposedly the place listed above is even better, but I thought this place wasnt half bad at all. English menu available
No. 11號, Section 3, Minzu Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 70004
7AM-5:30PM, Closed Thurs.
小公園擔仔麵 Little Park Noodles
No. 321號, Section 2, Ximen Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
4:30PM-11PM, Closed Wed
邱家小卷米粉 Qiu Family Squid Rice Noodles
Squid rice noodles
No. 5號, Section 3, Guohua St, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
11AM-5PM, Closed Wed
鄭記蔥肉餅-西門店 ZhengJi Meat Pies
Scallion meat cakes/pies
No. 119號, Section 2, Ximen Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
1PM-7PM, Closed Sun
林家白糖粿番薯椪 Lin Family Fried Mochi
Fried sweet potato/ mochi
700, Taiwan, Tainan City, West Central District, Section 2, Guohua St, 174號號
泉記米行 狀元糕 QuanJi Rice Depot Steamed Rice Flour Cake
Old school steamed rice flour cake dessert. Two flavors peanut 花生 (the better one) and sesame 芝麻, big box (10) or small box (6). Definitely stay and watch the craft in making these, using very traditional equipment and methods that are barely found anymore.
No. 31號, Section 2, Yongfu Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
糯夫米糕 NuoFuLiu Sticky Rice
Insta famous sticky rice
No. 22號, Lane 359, Section 1, Fuqian Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
12pm-3:30PM, or until sold out, hours vary, check instagram
阿龍香腸熟肉 Ah-Long Smoked Taiwanese Sausage
No. 34號, Bao’an Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
10:30AM-8PM, Closed mon
鼎富發豬油拌飯 DingFuFa Pork Oil Rice
Pig oil rice
No. 38號, Dade Street, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
阿明豬心冬粉 Ah-Ming Pig’s Heart Noodles
Pig heart rice noodle
No. 72號, Bao’an Road, West Central District, Tainan City, Taiwan 700
I hope this guide is somewhat helpful for you to navigate the wonders and tastes of Tainan’s food scene. It truly is a spectacular place to go eat. It is also a lot cheaper than Taipei and for some dishes they also taste a lot better. Most of these flavors and family recipes are unique to Tainan and truly have not been replicated well outside.
If you happen to know of spots I missed on this list, happy to hear/ expand my own knowledge as well!