The south-bank bar scene is 'where it's at' in the evenings in Hue, with a number of places to choose from. The old stand-bys are mostly along Pham Ngu Lao, including DMZ Bar, with at nice pool table at the centre, and garden seating in a courtyard where you can order up Italian food from Little Italy, which is under the same ownership. Folks that don't take a shine to the DMZ Bar often head to the Why Not Bar on at the end of the block, across from Little Italy. They play a decent selection of western rock and hip-hop on the sound system and when things get cooking it can be a fun place to hang out. They have a tiny kitchen and there's more of an emphasis on eating than drinking, but we had some satisfying plates of pasta here, and the batter-friend squid or shrimp goes down nicely with a generous glass of Huda beer on tap.
There are a couple of good options you won't necessarily happen across just strolling around: Brown Eyes is great place to go for the bar, the pool table, the dance floor, and garden seating out back along the river. To get there, take Le Loi west across the bridge, where it turns into Nguyen Sing Cung, and it's on the left. They'll pick you up from hotel if you're in a group of four or more and transport you there for free. B4 Bar Cafe on Ben Nghe -- the Beligian expat owner and his Vietnamese partner have set up an elegant, if slightly pretentious, western-style bar that serves mostly drinks and attracts a lot of Francophones. You can get a variety of delicious, somewhat pricey, imported Belgian beers, as well as Huda on tap. It has a reputation for being the place to do if you'd rather not be in Vietnam at all, but we still had a good time here one night playing Jenga and listening to the dubious selection of 'European Rock and Roll' on the sound system.
Another alternative, Violon, on Ben Nghe, is a 'night club', that's popular with Vietnamese couples out for a romantic evening. They serve cocktails and feature live music -- live latin music, according to one source, though the band wasn't playing on our visit, so we can't be certain.
To spend the evening with hard-working Vietnamese, blowing off steam at the end of the day, you can do no better than to seek out Dong Da between Le Hong Phong and the traffic circle. There you'll find a line of down and dirty bia hoi joints, selling 15,000 VND, two-litre jugs of Huda beer on tap. They all sell eats designed to compliment the beer -- few have English menus, so we'll help you out with some important bia hoi-related food terminology: Luon: eel. Ech: frog. Oc: snail. There are a couple of bia hoi places at the end of Le Loi, before the Dap Da bridge, but they get too many foreigners because of the location and they lack a truly local atmosphere.
B4 Bar Cafe: 75 Ben Nghe, Hue. T: (0914) 050 110. http://www.geocities.com/b4hue.
Brown Eyes: 55 Nguyen Sing Cung, Hue. T: (054) 827 494. Call (054) 898 989 for free pick-up from your hotel for groups of four or more.
DMZ Bar: 60 Le Loi, Hue. T: (054) 826 928.
Why Not: 21 Vo Thi Sau, Hue. T: (054) 824 793.