I know this much is true: many of the best eats in Bangkok can be found in the city’s vibrant street markets. The word Bangkok itself is a synonym for ‘street food’ in the Thai language, so having a least a few meals while perambulating through a labyrinth of vendors selling everything edible under the sun is an absolute must.
That being said, there are also a multitude of indoor options should you want to take a break from al fresco dining (which can be exhausting during the sweatier season). And, while when in Bangkok, one should obviously sample Thai cuisine, this cosmopolitan capital is also home to many outstanding European, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants.
If coffee is all you can think about when day breaks, head straight to Roast for perhaps the city’s best selection of beans and java drinks. Once properly caffeinated, order one of their signature Western breakfast plates like the buttery brioche French toast stuffed with cranberries or the crab cake eggs benedict with onion jam.
Those looking for French-inflected matutinal fare should seek out Crepes & Co , which offers (obviously) crepes stuffed with an array of fillings in a homey space with comfy couches for lounging. The best of the best pre-designed options include “Sukhamvit,” with chicken, sautéed onions, garlic, and béchamel sauce, and the “Flambé Williame”, a warm, sweet assemblage of flambéed poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce.
Should a special occasion call for a stunningly diverse selection of breakfast goodies, Red Oven at the Sofitel Hotel has you covered. The weekend brunch buffet has cooking stations featuring homemade pasta, charcuterie, European cheeses, sushi, plus a raw bar and all-you-can-drink wine.
Lunchtime in Bangkok is often a fairly hurried affair, for residents and tourists alike are looking to refuel before returning to work or touring another temple. Grab a Vietnamese sour pork baguette sandwich from Banh Mi Bo, one of town’s trailblazing food trucks, or a plate of fried oysters or mussel crepes at Nai Mong Hoid Tod, a tiny one-women operation that garners long lines during peak times.
Or, if you wish to linger longer at your midday meal, stop by Quince for a roast pumpkin fennel salad with ricotta or smoked eggplant tortellini. Long cherished by Japanese transplants, UomasaBKK is the source of amazing lunch specials comprising sushi, sashimi, and tempura made with the freshest possible fish and produce.
Housed in a quaint colonial-style cottage over 100 years old, Issaya Siamese Club is called the best modern Thai restaurant by many and for good reason. Their culinary reboots are delightfully uncanny as familiar spices meet unfamiliar proteins and plants in standouts like the massaman lamb shank, banana blossom salad, and jasmine panna cotta.
South Asian sophistication is the name of the game at Rang Mahal, where a well-heeled international crowd feast on papri chaat di pasand (semolina pancakes dressed with mint tamarind sauce), tandoori prawns, and jeera pulao (cumin basmati rice).
New kid on the block Cocette Farm Roast & Winery has already secured a large following thanks to its lip-smacking carnivore-centric menu and curated collection of vino. Share and savor the “perigourdin” style rotisserie-roasted chicken stuffed with truffles and foie gras, risotto with morel mushrooms, or the fish and chips with tomato bernaise.
For an awesome, casual, graze-as-you-go dinner, seek out one of Bangkok’s terrific night markets, my favorites of which are located in Yaowarat, aka Chinatown, and Charoen Krung Road. Stroll down the streets and you will find a plethora of hot and cold, sweet and spicy dishes including but not limited to: kaphrao mu rat khao (minced pork with basil, chiles, and garlic), mango sticky rice, crab omelets, son tam (papaya salad), fried chicken (seriously), dumplings, pork belly skewers, and pomegranate juice.
The Chinese pastries at April’s Bakery are easy to eat by the dozen, so why not pick up a bag to nosh on as an afternoon snack or midnight treat. Most compelling are April’s “pies”, palm-size pockets of dough stuffed with fillings such as pumpkin, black sesame, sweet potato, and banana custard.
At Creamery Open Kitchen, expats and locals order voluminous cones of homemade ice cream in flavors both (fairly) standard (berry cheesecake) and wacky, like the “Brit Pop Bacon and Eggs”, egg custard with brown sugar caramelized bacon. Their “Very Hot Pan-Fried Cookie”, a mound of your ice cream of choice atop a chewy oven-fresh cookie served in a skillet, is just as decadent as it sounds.
Fans of fermented juniper berries will love Teens of Thailand, purportedly Thailand’s only gin bar, which is that is famous for vending potent libations in a in a dark industrial space that resembles an over-sized bank vault.
If more public rather than pseudo-clandestine drinking is your thing, the ethereal Sky Bar at the Le Bua hotel offers 360-degrees views of the city enjoyed by a trendy crowd, and incidentally, the cast of The Hangover II who set up camp in the hotel while filming in Bangkok. Sky Bar’s classic international cocktails, such as the Lemon Drop, Caipirinha, Singapore Sling, are solid, but their “Hangovertini” should be your first pick.
I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, grew up in central Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and now calls Houston, Texas home. After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in English, I earned a PhD in Victorian literature from Rice University. I currently serve as a culinary consultant, food historian, and travel/food critic for various print and online outlets. My exploits can be found at www.brideyoleary.com.