12 essential restaurants and bars in Bangkok for every budget

Giulia Sgarbi - 24/01/2020

The Thai capital is high on the list of dream destinations for any gastro-traveller. From award-winning street food to some of the best dining experiences in the world, Bangkok has something for everyone. Discover our selection of some of the best food experiences, divided into three budget bands: $30-$50; $50-$100; and over $100. Each selection comes with a cocktail bar within an equivalent price range to visit before or after dinner.


For revived Thai traditions: Paste
Chef Bee Satongun and husband Jason Bailey opened Paste in 2013, garnering near-instant acclaim for their refined interpretation of ancient Thai recipes. Since 2015, the restaurant settled into an elegant space in Gaysorn with booths, floor-to-ceiling windows and a large spiral silk cocoon sculpture. Subsequently, Satongun was voted Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2018 and Paste appeared at No.28 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019. Their great-value à la carte menus – including gems such as baked woonsen noodles with Thai bouillon and razor clams, or Satongun’s famous smoky southern yellow curry with crab – make it surprisingly affordable to get a taste of one of the pioneers of Thai cuisine.

For Michelin-starred street food: Raan Jay Fai
This is an essential waypoint on any foodie itinerary for Bangkok. In 2018, Supinya Junsuta’s street food stall became the first in the city to earn a Michelin star – since then, the chef (and her signature look with heat protection goggles and a black beanie) have achieved iconic status locally and internationally. The 73-year-old cook and sole owner of the stall is known by her nickname Jay Fai and is a master of flaming Thai ingredients over charcoal heat in her wok. Her crab omelette wins the plaudits: a golden pillow of soft crab and egg, noodle stir fries and curries. While more expensive than most other street food stalls, Raan Jay Fai cannot be missed.

For delicious international inspiration: Eat Me
With a kitchen and bar open until 1am every day, Eat Me is an excellent option for late-night eats. Take a break from Thai food’s famed heat and enjoy a wide selection of internationally inspired dishes prepared with flair by US-born chef Tim Butler. At Eat Me you can savour – among many other delicious plates – carabinero prawn risotto, white asparagus with caviar, or wagyu short ribs with tomato, pecorino cheese and honeycomb tripe.

Bar: Find The Locker Room
This intimate, moody address – with room for only 35 drinkers – has some of Asia’s best mixologists behind the bar, including Colin Chia and Hidetsugu Ueno. As the name suggests, you’ll have to find your way among a bank of steel lockers to gain entry. Once inside, however, relax and enjoy an eclectic menu playing on past, present and future, ranging from classic cocktails to modern twists and experimental concoctions. The average price per cocktail is $10.


For a taste of southern Thailand: Sorn
Focusing on ingredients and techniques indigenous to the south of the country, Sorn offers a cornucopic feast of dishes, which are created from produce sourced daily from the 14 provinces in the region. Chef-owner Suparksorn Jongsiri – who opened the restaurant in 2018 with Yodkwan U-Pumpruk – first fell in love with cooking while helping his grandmother run her family restaurant, Baan Ice. Now, the pair cook up curries, clay-pot rice, leaf-steamed water bug and many more traditional delicacies, transforming them info refined, eye-catching dishes. Sorn debuted on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2019 at No.48.

For modern takes on traditional flavours: Nahm
Set inside the opulent surroundings of the Como Metropolitan hotel, Nahm is known for its fiery modern takes on traditional Thai dishes. Legendary cook David Thompson brought it to world-famous status before Pim Techamuanvivit took over in 2018, carrying on the mission of elevating Thai fare and its flavours. The style here is authentic Bangkok fare cooked with ingredients sourced from small-scale farmers and fishermen. Don’t miss the iconic coconut and turmeric curry of blue swimmer crab with kalamansi lime.

For adventurous Thai flavours: 80/20
80/20 is the labour of love of cook Napol Jantraget and pastry chef Saki Hoshino – a restaurant that takes Thai cuisine and aims to innovate it through forward-thinking techniques and twists. Despite its name, the restaurant now uses 100 per cent Thai produce, with dishes such as Thai wagyu and oyster tartare or cuttlefish noodles in black ink, which are complemented by Hoshino’s inspired desserts, like ‘Flavours of Coconut’. The restaurant’s impressive cocktail list is created in partnership with Vesper, a regular on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.

Bar: Tropic City
Bringing the tropical spirit from the Caribbean to Bangkok, this cool joint was a new entry to the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2019. The cocktail list majors on house-made infusions, reductions and tinctures, and the drinks often feature fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Its fancy-free décor attracts a young crowd, but this is one of the places where the city’s best bartenders also like to unwind. The average price per cocktail is $12.


For a dinner where Indian meets Thai: Gaa
Mumbai-born Garima Arora recognised her calling as a chef at a young age and went on to train at some of the world’s best restaurants, including Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, a former No.1 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. She opened Gaa in 2017, where she melds Noma’s fermentation techniques with Indian flavours and Thai ingredients, creating a unique combination of influences that she calls ‘modern eclectic’. Expect progressive, seasonal dishes that surprise and delight, such as liquid banana bread and betel leaf covered in dark chocolate and fennel powder.

For a German experience in Bangkok: Sühring
Opened by twins Thomas and Mathias Sühring in 2015, Sühring’s offer is hard to come by anywhere else in Bangkok: the restaurant does German fine dining. Ranked in the top five of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list, the restaurant’s strengths are in flawless execution and technical prowess. The tasting menu is inspired by the twins’ childhood memories and family recipes, including creative takes on a pork sausage called currywurst, traditional Bavarian snacks and spätzle pasta.

For progressive Indian cuisine: Gaggan Anand
The latest addition to the Bangkok food scene (its first service was in November 2019), this is Gaggan Anand’s second act, opened only months after he shut down Gaggan, the four-time Best Restaurant in Asia. The most sought-after dining experience in the Thai capital isn’t cheap – tasting menus start around $265 – but certainly lives up to the hype. Anand’s world-famous progressive Indian style is refocused at his new digs, with intense and detailed dishes that feature premium ingredients, and a truly theatrical experience that sees diners take a mid-way break at the outdoor bar while the table is re-set with a completely new design. The chef’s signature dish Lick It Up is still on the menu in its ‘version 2.0’, and other highlights include bamboo skewer dusted with vindaloo-style masala and long-grain basmati rice twice-baked with seasonal mushrooms, customised to each guest.

Bar: The Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental
Coming in at No.8 in Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019, The Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental won the title of The Best Bar in Thailand – proof of the serious commitment to mixology on display here. The décor is classy yet exotic, while the live jazz nights contribute to the general feeling of luxury. On the new ‘Compass’ cocktail menu, you’ll find cocktails inspired by Thailand’s five regions, including the Hawker (tequila, coconut, lemongrass, kefir lime and ginger) and the Plantation (banana, cinnamon, coconut flower and mango). The average price per cocktail is $18.

Coming soon: Mauro Colagreco – the chef behind Mirazur in France, currently ranked No.1 in The World's 50 Best Restaurants – is set to open his first Bangkok venue in March. Côte will be a Mediterranean-influenced signature restaurant inside the luxury Capella Bangkok.

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