Restaurants in Thailand
Western palates have long become familiar with Thai cuisine, and if once pad thai and massaman curry were exotic and strange, they are now almost familiar comfort foods for many. But needless to say, it just tastes better at the source, especially if you search out the local specialties—seafood in the south, meat dishes in the north—and you'll also get to sample curries and salads that aren't on the menu at your local Thai place. Options range from night markets where you can eat for a few dollars, to white tablecloth restaurants in Bangkok. In many cases, you won't need to leave your hotel to experience some of the country's best cuisine, like at the Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, as popular with locals celebrating special occasions as it is with travelers.
Especially in Bangkok, you'll find that restaurants in Thailand serve international fare. There are plenty of restaurants in Chiang Mai that serve western food and many Thailand restaurants serve Chinese and Vietnamese food, popular with locals and visitors as well. The best restaurants in Thailand, however, serve Thai cuisine, in all its many spicy, regional variations, which should be no surprise to travelers.
The Metropolitan Bangkok is urbane, with a streamlined glass and concrete facade that includes different textured finishes and several serene water features.
Part of the international restaurant chain, Blue Elephant Bangkok is located inside a renovated colonial building and exudes an elegant, yet inviting feel with dark wood tables and crystal chandeliers.
The atmosphere and views are the main attraction at Vertigo, perched atop the 61st floor of the Banyan Tree Hotel. Acrophobics beware: tables are placed close to the edge, leaving little more than a glass wall between patrons and the endless city view.
Providing haute French fare with a view, this four-star establishment at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooks Bangkok's Chao Phraya River and glittering Thonburi District.
The view: The crush of waves on the rocks below adds another sensory layer to romantic Baan Rim Pa, an open-air, two-story teak house on a cliff above a crescent of golden sand. The sun sets on boats bobbing against a backdrop of hills fading into the Andaman Sea.
Try the grilled kingfish or tender steamed lobster at this wharfside restaurant.
This outdoor restaurant has no English sign but is located opposite My Beauty spa. It's a dump, with wash hung out to dry and stray cats in the background but if you get past the back-alley aesthetic, you'll feast on grilled blackened shrimp or fried frog with chiles.
Behold the Slow Food version of a rarefied Thai treat at Bo.lan: a stunningly intricate layering of hand-pounded red curry paste, freshly extracted coconut milk, double-cooked beef, and aromatic grace notes of Kaffir lime and cassia leaves.
Vino di Zanotti is a traditional Italian restaurant set away from the hectic pace of the city in the countryside of Khao Yai.
This trendy chain—seven Bangkok restaurants and another in Hong Kong's IFC Mall—pays homage to Thailand's 'Greyhound' fashion label.