Best places to eat in Bangkok – recommended by a local
By Kat Yindee, a HR specialist who has been living in Bangkok for more than 40 years, always exploring the city’s diverse food culture and teaching visitors about its rich history.
Edited by Elodi Troskie
There are no two ways about it: you’ll find some of the world’s best food in Bangkok. Whether you want to explore traditional Thai food or stick to what you know best, Bangkok offers something for every taste and every budget. If you’re traveling on a low budget, street food is your best bet as it is extremely affordable and very easily accessible all over the city. Apart from the lively street food culture in Bangkok and food markets by the numbers, there are restaurants by the hundreds worth going to. The only food-related problem you’ll have in Bangkok is deciding where to go! I’ve lived here my entire life and I’m still continuously exploring the spots for all the best food in Bangkok. Here are my recommendations for the best places to eat in Bangkok if you’re planning a first-time trip to the city of angels.
ICONSIAM is an all-in-one shopping complex situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. If your time in Bangkok is limited, I would advise you to visit ICONSIAM to kickstart your Thai food adventure. On the base floor of the complex, you’ll find restaurants with food from all the different regions of Thailand. For traditional Thai food, head to Alagkarn on the sixth floor, a dining zone where you’ll find a variety of top class restaurants and cafes. This area is decorated with features like rice paddies and waterfalls to embody the heart of Thai food culture. The focus is on Thai food, but other Asian dishes aren’t excluded. There are many other activities to enjoy while you’re at ICONSIAM, such as a visit to the ICONSIAM Heritage Museum, where a collection of artefacts from all over Thailand are exhibited with the aim of bringing Thai and international cultures closer to one another.
Steve Cafe and Cuisine
Steve Cafe and Cuisine is one of the best local Thai restaurants in Bangkok if you’re craving home-style cooked food. The owner, Steve, and his wife bring their best Thai cooking skills to the table, making sure you have an incredible local Thai dining experience. Only the best and freshest ingredients are used and no dishes are cooked in advance. The location of this restaurant is also a big plus. Situated on the Chao Phraya riverside north of the Grand Palace, you’ll have a beautiful lookout on the river without any skyscrapers blocking your view. Steve Cafe is a bit of a hidden gem in Bangkok since its not located in a busy street, but it’s definitely worth scouting for. Steve Cafe is open daily except Mondays from 11am until 10:30pm and until 11pm over weekends.
Japanese Town is the largest Japanese shopping area in Bangkok, with stores selling anything you can think of – clothes, accessories, beauty products, books and household items. And, of course, food (and lots of it). You’ll find some of the best street food in Bangkok right here! Prepare to indulge in sushi, ramen, tempura and more. Japanese Town is located in Sukhumvit, right across Benjasiri Park. You’ll especially enjoy this if you’re trying to get away from the tourist masses! Because most visitors opt for Thai food, as can be expected, Japanese cuisine in Bangkok is often overlooked, which means that you’re likely to encounter more locals than foreigners here. That being said, if you’re on the hunt for Thai street food in Bangkok, you hardly need to go out of your way to find it. Local street food stalls can be found on every street corner, so you’ll never need to travel very far to get a taste of the best Thai street food in Bangkok. To get to Japanese Town, take the Skytrain and get off at Prompong station, from where you can easily walk to Japanese Town on the right hand side of Sukhumvit Soi 33.
W District Market
Bangkok has no shortage of food markets. Perhaps you’ve heard of Chatuchak or the Floating Flower Market, but W Market is still under the tourist radar. W Market is a relatively new night market, open from 16:00 until midnight every day. Located in Bangkok’s arty Phra Kanong area, W Market is a subdivision of W District, a creative hub with restaurants, beauty salons, co-working spaces, galleries and other small businesses. What makes W Market different from the many other night markets all across Bangkok, is the lack of stalls selling clothes and souvenirs mainly aimed on tourists. W Market can be described as a trendy restaurant hub and beer garden with a cultural twist. You can enjoy a laid-back dinner and explore the surrounding art galleries afterwards. There are more than 50 restaurants to choose from, with international cuisines including Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican and Italian. In addition to the multitude of restaurants, local food stalls are in abundance. If you’re craving the best street food in Bangkok, rest assured that you won’t go hungry! The market is conveniently situated right next to the BTS Pra Khanong station. Parking is also available if you’re planning on driving there yourself.
Lai Rot Restaurant
Lai Rot is a small restaurant in the city centre, best known for its authentic Royal Thai dishes, including the ever popular Khao Chae (rice soaked in flower-infused water) and the coconut soup with prawns. Lai Rot prides itself in following traditional Thai cooking methods, for example using a charcoal stove to cook the rice. There are two branches of this restaurant in Bangkok – one in Sukhumvit and one in Rama 6 (the latter is my favourite). Prices are reasonable, and you can expect to pay anything from 200 baht for one of the signature dishes. Lai Rot is open daily from 11am until 9pm.
Eat Sight Story
In my opinion, Eat Sight Story is one of the best places to eat in Bangkok. I love this place and I love bringing guests here. Located along the side of the Chao Phraya River, Eat Sight Story has quite an interesting origin story. Before it was turned into a restaurant, it used to be an important part of the historical Ratanakosin Island communities. Nowadays, it’s one of Bangkok’s trendiest Thai restaurants with beautiful views of the river and Wat Arun. With main courses starting at about 200 baht, prices are somewhat on the higher end. Taking into consideration this restaurant offers some of the best food in Bangkok, along with incredible service and magnificent city views, this is a Thai dining experience definitely worth paying a bit more for. Eat Sight Story is open from 11am until 10pm during the week and until 11pm over weekends.
The EmQuartier, located in the popular Sukhumvit district of Bangkok, is another shopping mall where you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to food. This complex differs from ICONSIAM in the sense that the restaurants and cafes you’ll find here are much more diverse budget-wise. There is still a large selection of fine dining and higher end restaurants, but if you’re looking for more affordable places to eat, you’re more likely to find something that suits your wallet at the EmQuartier. A few suggestions for really good Thai food is Coffee Beans By Dao, Pot Ministry and Full Flavour. Like ICONSIAM, however, eating at EmQuartier might be more suited for higher budget dining, and although the food at both these complexes are incredible, if you’re interested in exploring the local ways of Thai food, you’ll enjoy the street food markets and local vendors more.