Bangkok has an amazing range of local restaurants serving delicious meals in open-fronted shophouses, with a fan to cool you if you’re lucky. The city is peppered with these restaurants as almost every meal is eaten out, making it one of the world’s greatest – and most affordable – cities for food lovers. Local restaurants in Bangkok are classified as those with mostly local clientele, cheap and cheerful cutlery, empty gas canisters lined up against the wall, perhaps even a shrine in a corner, and pictures of revered monks and beloved kings on the walls.

    Plastic plates, aluminium cups and outdated furnishings aside, the best of these unassuming restaurants serve up unbelievably good Thai food, often specialising in a particular recipe handed down through generations. This list of the best local restaurants in Bangkok is a mixture of our longstanding favourites and some of the best we’ve found lately. We would happily send our friends to any of these local restaurants in Bangkok for a true taste of authentic street food.


    Thip Samai Pad Thai

    Thip Samai Pad Thai should be on everyone’s list of the best local restaurants in Bangkok. Commonly known as Ghost Gate (Pratu Pee), it's widely considered to serve the best pad Thai in Bangkok, which pretty much makes it the best in the world. Ingredients are incredibly fresh, portions are filling and, as it is cooked on charcoal at high heat, it's served moist but not at all oily. Plus, the sight of the row of woks being tossed over flames is a classic snapshot of Bangkok food culture.

    Presented in a thin cocoon of egg, pad Thai at Thip Samai Restaurant bursts with steam and aroma when pierced, with options costing from 60 baht up to 200 baht. Also, try the delicious 100% fresh orange juice, which comes directly from the countryside every day. Expect a queue and take any table you can find, either inside the open-faced restaurant or on the stainless steel benches outside.

    What to Order: pad Thai shrimp (ผัดไทกุ้ง) and orange juice.

    Location: 315 Maha Chai Rd, Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 5 pm to 1 am

    Phone: +66 (0)2 226 6666


    photo by Iudexvivorum (CC0 1.0) modified


    Jae Fai Restaurant

    Jae Fai Restaurant famously received a Michelin star and, for many, this is the best place to experience street food in Bangkok. Certainly, this is a real drawcard for genuine local Thai food. The first thing to note is the price: 400 baht for a crab omelette is expensive for local food in any country, especially Thailand, land of the 50-baht plate. But considering the huge chunks of white crab meat, juicy river prawns, and other premium ingredients, it is definitely worth the price.

    The rolled crab omelette is famed at Jae Fai, along with crispy noodle seafood rad na (starchy gravy dish ladled over prawns, squid and mussels) and drunken noodles – the dish that Rick Stein ate that first made this restaurant famous among westerners. Service can be slow so you need patience at Jae Fai, but they do say ‘good things come to those who wait’.

    What to Order: crab omelette, served as a large roll filled with fresh, white crab meat. (ไข่เจียวปู)

    Location: 327 Maha Chai Rd, Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 2 pm to midnight (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +66 (0)92 724 9633


    photo by Krista (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Wattana Panich Restaurant

    Wattana Panich on Ekkamai Road is easy to spot thanks to the absolutely enormous stewing pot at the restaurant's entrance. Bubbling away all day are cubes of braised beef in a rich gravy that keeps the meat tender and deliciously succulent, with added flavour coming from Chinese herbs such as star anise, cinnamon and goji berries. Certainly, Wattana Panich Restaurant is among the very best local restaurants in Bangkok, and the open-faced shophouse is so typically Thai it could be used in a movie set. This beef is served with noodles, starting from 80 baht for a regular bowl or 100 baht for a large. There is also the option of goat meat, which starts from 200 baht.

    As is the norm in most local Bangkok restaurants, Wattana Panich has a range of noodles to choose from. Everyone has a different preference, so it’s really up to you to try them all and see which you like best.

    What to Order: Beef noodles – the type of noodle is up to you! (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเนื้อ)

    Location: 338 Ekkamai Rd, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)2 391 7264


    photo by anokarina (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Lek Seafood Silom

    Blurring the line between local restaurant and street food in Bangkok, Lek Seafood Silom occupies a corner unit underneath the Chong Nonsi BTS Skytrain Station. There is a small open-faced dining room but tables spill out on the street in true Bangkok style, with the hustle and bustle of Naradhiwas Road as your backdrop. Come here for exceptional seafood such as steamed catfish with chilli and lime, chilli crab, spicy and sour tom yum seafood soup and shellfish of dazzling variety.

    Keeping the mood truly local, chairs are plastic, tables are stainless steel, and beer is served with ice. The menu is in English and all staff have at least working English, so you can always get your point across. 

    What To Order: steamed catfish in lime and chilli (ปลานึ่งมะนาว), spicy cockle salad (ยำหอยแครง)

    Location: 89 Soi Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra 3, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 5 pm to midnight (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +66 (0)2 636 6460


    Jok Prince

    Jok is Thailand’s version of rice porridge, surely the most humble dish it is possible to find in the land of strong herbs and biting spices. Typically, this dish is served in food courts and street stalls for around 30 baht (US$1). But for our money, the very best rice porridge in Bangkok can be found at Jok Prince, a narrow restaurant set up in Bang Rak, close to Sapan Taksin BTS Skytrain Station. It's hard to find for foreign guests due to the lack of English signage, but it just adds to the authenticity and adventure.

    This specialist rice porridge restaurant isn’t big on variety, and it’s all the better for it because it means their recipe has been honed to perfection. Your choices here consist of rice soup with finely minced pork balls, with or without offal, and served with a poached egg or century egg (Chinese-style preserved egg), with the final addition of a sprinkling of spring onion. A bowl of warm porridge at Jok Prince starts from 45 baht, which is an absolute bargain for the care that goes into producing a barely perceptible smoky taste that pervades the rice.

    What to Order: JOK! With poached egg for first-timers (โจ๊กใส่ไข่ลวก), century egg for old hands (โจ๊กใส่ไข่เยี่ยวม้า).

    Location: 1391 Charoen Krung Rd, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 6 am to midday and 4 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)89 795 2629


    Kuang Heng Kaiton Pratunam

    A Bangkok local restaurant that has garnered fans from across the city, you should come to Kuang Heng Kaiton Pratunam for soft, steamed chicken served with oily rice, cucumber slices. and chicken broth soup. The restaurant is packed with locals most time of the time – and that alone is proof of its quality.

    The chilli sauce served as an accompaniment does add some tingle to the tastebuds, but this is all about fat, plump chickens served fresh with rice that retains a hint of garlic. This is an anytime meal for Thai people in the same way that a sandwich might be seen in the west.

    What to eat: steamed chicken on rice (ข้าวมันไก่)

    Location: 930 Phetchaburi Rd, Makkasan, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +66 (0)2 251 8768


    Kuay Jab Nai Huan

    Kuay Jab Nai Huan is one of Yaowarat Road's all-time favourite restaurants. This small stall only serves 1 type of dish and is packed non-stop from 6pm to late at night.

    Kuay jab is a dish made of large rolled rice noodles with crispy pork belly, sometimes with intestines and most importantly served in a very very peppery clear soup, with prices starting 40 baht. It's so popular you will certainly have to queue patiently, standing in this incredibly busy intersection. If you are lucky, they might take you further down the lane to set a table up just for you.

    Location: 4 Yaowarat Rd, Chakkrawat, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 6 pm to late


    Enjoying boat noodles in Victory Monument is a Bangkok experience not to miss. It’s hot, sweaty and filled with Thai students chomping and slurping their way through bowl after bowl of noodle soup, either with a light broth or a tom yum spicy version. For just 10 baht you get your choice of noodles, with pork or beef, pork balls, and crispy wonton. However, 1 bowl isn’t enough to feed you, so do as the locals do and order bowls in pairs.

    Finished bowls are stacked at the end of the table which becomes a source of competition for some (the restaurants have noticed this and offer a free big bottle of Pepsi for every 10 bowls ordered). There isn’t 1 restaurant, but rather a small alley along the canal all sticking to the same philosophy. To find the boat noodles restaurants, you have to exit the Victory Monument BTS Skytrain Station and walk along the overhead walkway until you see the night market. Head to the ground level, walk through the market, and over a bridge crossing the canal.

    What to order: Thai boat noodles (in pairs) (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ)

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    Location: Ratchawithi Rd, Phaya Thai, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 10.30 am to 9 pm (some stalls close or open early)

    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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