Restaurant Favorites in Thailand
On my recent trip to Thailand I was lucky enough to stay with a friend, so we didn’t eat out as much as I normally might on a trip. Although when we did go out, she definitely knew the places for great food and atmosphere. In most restaurants, the food is brought out when it is ready. No matter how many people are in your party, so it’s not considered rude to start eating even though not everyone at the table has been served. Emily Post might disagree with their methods, but the food is fresh.
Tipping is not expected in Thailand. Although the service might be better if they did. After receiving our food the waitress would simply disappear. Sometimes it was easier just to head to the hostess stand or the bar when we were finished in order to get the bill. Anyway, let’s start with Bangkok:
Roast Coffee and Eatery was our first restaurant stop in Bangkok. We stopped in for Sunday lunch/brunch. It’s definitely Americana food, so it might seem silly for our first stop out to eat. With a little jet lag, and too much fish on my Japan Airlines flights, it hit the spot. Expect to wait, it’s always a busy place. Although they do have complementary juice and bread next to the hostess stand. That would be important if you were visiting and waiting with kids. A lot of people complain about the wait, so steer clear if that’s an issue for you. I had the spaghetti bolognese, and it was amazingly fresh. We split the berry crumble dessert, and it was delicious.
Eat, Sight Story (ESS) sits right on the Chao Phrya river, with great views of Wat Arun on the other side. While the food and views are great, you could argue that the best part of this restaurant was getting there. Through the market, down an alley, past the Buddha altar and you’re there. The view was entertaining with all of the activity on the river. Although I would never characterize the service as fast, I thought the food was quite good. I had Pad Thai, but they offered pizza that looked good too. We sat at the edge of the river under an umbrella, and they extended an awning for other customers when asked. We were there for a late lunch but it looked like the couches and chairs would make a great place to lounge, drink and take in the city lit up at night.
The great thing about Chiang Mai, is that the city seems so much more manageable and walkable than Bangkok. Although we did pass by a McDonalds and a Starbucks, we never went in. Most restaurants are open air, so make sure to wear bug spray just in case. On to my Chiang Mai favorites:
Whole Earth was suggested by our concierge at the Le Meridien Chiang Mai. Within walking distance to the Night Markets, the short walk from our hotel was much appreciated after our night on the train. As we approached the sign we turned into an open garden area. The restaurant actually sits off the road behind the garden. It was a welcome oasis from the busy street. We were asked to remove our shoes and were seated outside on a second floor balcony overlooking the garden. The menu was large and varied with Thai and Indian food specialties. It was convenient to have lots of pictures and explanations in Thai and English. The presentation was exceptional. Within the garden there seemed to be two small decks, each with a bar and some seating. Although we were there for lunch, I could see all the lights they had wound through the trees and imagine it to be an amazing place for dinner or drinks.
The Gallery was another recommendation from our concierge. There are quite a few restaurants in the area that sit on the Mekong River. Our Tuk Tuk driver actually dropped us off a A Good View restaurant next door. The music was loud, there was a wait (that seemed to vary based on your nationality) and the hostess was rude, so we thought we’d try the Gallery instead. What a difference a little walk makes. The Gallery was much more relaxed and they got us right in. Our table was not right up on the water, but still had a great view. The service was about the same as most places in Thailand, so I couldn’t complain. We got quite a few dishes and shared them. The Pomelo Salad and Thom Yum Gai was some of the best we’ve ever tasted. The larb and satay were excellent as well. We had a great leisurely meal. I’d say if you are ready to drink and party, go next door.
Since I’ve been writing all about food, I almost forgot to mention the variety of drinks. Every restaurant we visited seemed to have an interesting choice of non-alcoholic drink choices. Anything from traditional Thai iced tea, homemade pink lemonade, to a fizzy concoction with beet root. It’s almost as though offering mass produced soda was an insult. Throughout my ten days in Thailand, I gave it the old college try. Some of them were great, while others fell flat. But it added and element of fun while ordering a meal, that’s for sure.