Where to Eat in George Town, Penang

Finding the Best Food Courts, Restaurants, and Street Carts

Street noodle stall in Georgetown, Penang
Elena Aleksandrovna Ermakova / Getty Images

The food in George Town, Penang is legendary -- there is simply no place else in the world where such a mix of cultures has contributed their culinary influences to one cause. Chinatown, Little India, hawker stalls and food courts -- the multitude of choices for eating in George Town is delightfully overwhelming.

Read about Penang food, then use this guide for where to find the best restaurants in George Town!

A first-time visitor to Malaysia? Read our Malaysia travel guide for important stuff to know before you go. Or look up this list of top things to do in Penang.

Food Courts

Although hawker stalls can be found scattered across the city, sometimes it is more convenient to have all the options under one roof. Perfect for grazing from cart to cart, George Town's sprawling food courts contain dozens of hawker foods with centralized seating.

  • New World Park: This failed amusement park was given a new life as George Town's best food court. Scores of Penang specialties such as mee rebus and Hokkien mee can be found under one massive roof for street prices. Each food counter is clearly labeled with what local dish can be purchased. The New World Park is located in the northwest of the city at the junction of Burma Road and Swatow Lane.​
  • Red Garden: The Red Garden is a little grungier and more hectic than the New World Park, but the convenient location on Jalan Penang is worth the extra effort. A confusing array of carts and counters serve up excellent fare for prices cheaper than those found in restaurants. The Red Garden is an excellent place to find lok-lok, Assam laksa, rojak, and other classics as well as Thai, sushi, and even Filipino food. The Red Garden opens for dinner at 4:30 p.m.
  • Sri Weld Food Court: This concrete-floored food court is cheap and simple, but the food is excellent. Find Sri Weld on the eastern tip of George Town between Lebuh Pantai and Pengkalan Weld.
  • Cebil Market Food Court: This classic food court is located on Lebuh Cecil southeast of the city center. Cecil Market is a good place to try laksa, char kway teow, and roast duck. The food court is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Street Food in Penang

Some of the best and cheapest food in George Town is found at the numerous stalls dotted along the streets. Approaching busy hawker carts on the street can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated. Don't worry, the proprietors are friendly and the food is safe -- otherwise, they would not last long in a place like George Town!

Although street food is omnipresent around the city, here are the most popular places to score a cheap meal:

  • Gurney Drive: The coastal esplanade along Persiaran Gurney just north of George Town is perhaps the most famous scene for street food in Southeast Asia. Scores of carts line the coastal walk. Many locals opt for other places, complaining that Gurney's fame has boosted prices. Gurney drive is too far to walk from the city center -- transport is required. Read more about getting around George Town. The food on Gurney Drive starts around 6 p.m.
  • Chinatown: The streets of Chinatown come alive at night with carts selling noodles, dumplings, and treats on skewers. Head to Lebuh Kimberly and adjoining streets; the food is so authentic that English is rarely found on the signs! Lebuh Chulia's tourist strip is an easy place to find stuffed dumplings, lok-lok, and local favorites from English-speaking hawkers.

    Restaurants in George Town, Penang

    George Town is host to scores of restaurants ranging from open-air places with concrete floors to swanky hotel restaurants offering fine dining.

    • Upper Penang Road: The north end of Jalan Penang is home to a strip of pricey restaurants and bars where you will find tapas, patio dining, and sushi.
    • Nagore Place: Nagore Place is in the northeast of George Town at the junction of Lebuh Chulia and Lebuh King. A beautiful strip of colonial-era buildings houses restaurants serving Indian, Malay, Thai, and Western food. The area is popular on weekends and stays open late.

    Malaysian Indian Food and Mamak Stalls

    Healthy Malaysian Indian food served on banana leaves can be found in restaurants around Little India. Head to Lebuh Pasar and Lebuh Penang -- when you hear blaring Bollywood music from speakers on the street you are in the right place!

    The best, 24-hour Mamak eatery outside of Little India is Khaleel Restaurant on Jalan Penang near the corner of touristy Lebuh Chulia. Khaleel's is the best place in George Town for trying chapati, murtabak, and other Tamil specialties.

    Directory for Penang Food

    After reading about Penang food specialties, finding local classics when you want them can be challenging. Here are some quick suggestions from locals for good places to find favorites:

    Hokkien Mee

    • Red Garden Cafe Food Court: North Jalan Penang; open 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
    • Street carts along Lebuh Kimberly; night only

    Assam Laksa

    • Joo Hooi Cafe: 475 Jalan Penang; open noon to 5 p.m.
    • Gurney Drive Esplanade: Persiaran Gurney; food served after 6 p.m.
    • Cecil Market Food Court: Lebuh Cecil; open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Mee Rebus

    • Red Garden Cafe Food Court
    • Street cart at the corner of Lebuh Campbell and Jalan Penang

    Nasi Kandar

    • Nasi Kandar Line Clear, junction of Jalan Penang and Jalan Chulia; open 24 hours
    • Khaleel Restaurant: north end of Jalan Penang; open 24 hours
    • Hameediyah Restaurant: Lebuh Campbell; open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    Lok-Lok

    • All food courts
    • Street cart on tourist strip of Lebuh Chulia; open night only

    Rojak and Cendol

    • Red Garden Cafe Food Court
    • Gurney Drive Esplanade: Persiaran Gurney; food served after 6 p.m.

    Chinese Duck

    • Sky Restaurant: located inside the Sky Hotel on Lebuh Chulia; lunch only
    • Fatty Loh Chicken Rice: Nagore Place; open late

    Fried Oysters

    • Kedai Kopi Seng Thor: 160 Lebuh Carnarvon; open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Red Garden Cafe Food Court

    Seafood

    • Weld Quay Seafood: 18 Weld Quay; open for dinner
    • Red Garden Cafe Food Court