Choosing among the best restaurants in Bangkok is quite an endeavor. Unique eateries are scattered near and far across the many hip neighborhoods of the city. Every megalopolis tends to attract plenty of renowned chefs from all food genres but Bangkok even more so.
Fortunately, the government’s crackdown on street food in 2017 didn’t eliminate the scene—but hawker carts certainly aren’t the only way to eat in Bangkok. Every high-rise hotel, especially those in Silom, seems to offer fine dining with a view. A few boast Michelin stars.
When, if ever, you want to stray from eating delicious Thai noodle dishes, you’ll find food from every corner in the world, not just Asia. Don’t feel bad for branching out. You may accidentally discover your new favorite French or Lebanese dish lurking quietly in some back-alley bistro in Sukhumvit.
For an upscale Thai food experience in Bangkok, Bo.Lan is at the top of every list. Along with sourcing organic ingredients from local farmers, they’ve even brought some traditional Thai dishes back from obscurity. The seasonal menus progress from small starters into full-blown tasting experiences. Plan to spend around $60 at lunch and $110 at dinner, per person, plus tax and service.
Centrally located between the Jim Thompson House and Erawan Shrine, Sra Bua hides inside the luxurious Siam Kempinski Hotel. The acclaimed restaurant is another Michelin-starred Thai option, a rarity before 2018 for restaurants specializing only in Thai cuisine. Teak wood and an indoor lotus pond contribute to the romantic ambiance. Forget risking à la carte; instead, let the Danish chef take you on a ride! Sra Bua is priced similarly to Bo.Lan. Menus are rotated quarterly.
Som Tam Jay So
When you walk up to Som Tam Jay So on a side street in Silom, you’ll swear you’re in the wrong place. Unlike the gorgeous restaurants outlined above, it looks like any of the other open-air, outside-kitchen spots that adorn the streets of Bangkok. That is until you see the crowd. Cuisine from the northeast province of Isan is famously good, and Som Tam Jay So is known for cooking some of the best in Bangkok. An English menu may not be available, so know a few Isan dishes before you go, or ask for recommendations. With prices around $2 a plate, you can’t go wrong! Be specific about how spicy you want your food since Isan is proud of their wonderfully fiery dishes. If you prefer more of a “restaurant” setting with air conditioning, Somtum Der on Sala Daeng Road (10-minute walk) is another popular option for Isan food.
Bangkok is home to one of the largest Japanese populations outside of Japan, so finding high-quality Japanese cuisine is easy. Shintaro, located just north of Lumphini Park, will set a new standard for how you enjoy your sushi.
This isn’t just another hip sushi spot. The staff at Shintaro are as friendly as the fish is fresh. You’ll want to make a reservation; however, getting into Shintaro is easier than at other sushi hotspots such as Isao, a wildly popular eatery on Soi Sukhumvit 31.
You’ll probably eat pad thai more than once while in Bangkok, so go for what is considered the best in town.
The house pad thai noodles prepared with shrimp oil are so good, the little eatery accidentally earned a Michelin star in 2018. Former patrons complain the new notoriety has caused even longer waits and hasty food—time will tell if the food and service can keep up.
Thipsamai’s red sign is in Thai, so just look for the amassed crowd. Things get busy when the small restaurant opens for dinner at 5 p.m. Don't let Michelin's rating spook you—eating at Thipsamai is very casual.
The egg-wrapped pad thai with two large prawns is what draws the crowd. The freshly squeezed orange juice is also a hit; citrus balances the slightly sweet flavor of the noodles.
A second Thipsamai location opened inside Bangkok's IconSIAM mall on the river.
In a restaurant scene as fickle and competitive as Bangkok's, restaurants either resort to gimmicks or greatness. Fortunately, Indulge chose the latter. Every dish and cocktail produced is photogenic, presented well, and delicious. The unpretentious setting transitions without fuss from daytime business bunches to evening romantic dates.
Indulge has a mixed Asian-Western menu that works. The Thai curry dishes are authentic and on point. But if you need a break from rice, the burgers, pasta, and salmon are generously portioned. The papaya som tam salad is an ideal spicy starter to share. If getting to Chiang Mai isn't an option on this trip, consider trying the khao soi, a northern-style curry dish based on coconut milk.
More Tips for Great Dining in Bangkok
- Japanese Food: A delightful number of authentic Japanese restaurants can be found in the Sukhumvit area, particularly at Soi 33 and Soi 24. Many lack English menus. You may want to brush up on your Japanese dining etiquette first.
- Middle Eastern Food: A large collection of tantalizing eateries serving Middle Eastern cuisine can be found around “Soi Arab” at Soi Sukhumvit 3/1. Just follow the sweet smell of smoking water pipes.
- Buffets: For one of the top buffets in town, consider the Goji Kitchen + Bar inside the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park. The international spread showcases plenty of seafood. An a la carte menu is available for the buffet-averse. Inside the same hotel, you’ll also find Akira Back, a top-rated pick for Korean food. The Momo Cafe on Ratchadamri Road (coincidentally also part of a Marriott) is another solid choice for buffet dining in Bangkok.
- Street Food: Along with Penang in Malaysia, Bangkok is still credited as having some of the best street food in the world. Chinatown’s hectic sidewalk food scene is famous; however, delicious street food is ubiquitous in Bangkok. The easiest way to find the best street food in Bangkok is to pay attention to the clientele.
- Family Dining: Need to make everyone in the group happy? The food court atop Terminal 21 in Asok can hold its own. Don’t let the idea of eating at a mall food court put you off. Authentic choices at inexpensive prices attract plenty of locals for lunch. The food court inside the MBK mall, another option, is surprisingly less hectic than the mall below it.