10 Best Restaurants in the Dusit Neighborhood District of Bangkok



Dusit is the old area of Bangkok. You won't find shopping malls or high-rises here, and while it is a popular place for many of the royal tourist sights, it isn't hugely known for its restaurant scene, although those in the know head for many of the nondescript Chinese shophouses which are home to some very authentic and local Thai food. There is though, a range of options to choose from here. You can go for excellent upscale dining in the stylish Chon, the signature restaurant at the fancy Siam Hotel, dining in an old teak house right on the Chao Phraya River. Other riverside dining options include the charming Steve Cafe, or a local seafood meal at the small family run Kaloang Home Kitchen. For great sunset and night views, settle in with all the young couples at In Love, looking out at the Rama VIII Bridge as it lights up for the evening. For some fine eclectic meals, Dusit is also a popular spot. Leading the way is Seven Spoons, where organic and locally sourced ingredients are the norm for Mediterranean inspired meals, and you can also head to the nearby Mad Moa, Bangkok's only Polynesian tiki bar that serves up great American comfort food. Don't forget to make at least one pilgrimage to Jae Fai while you are here, the small street food eatery has been written up by the New York Times, and high society types line up here to pay 10 times the going rate for a plate of pad kee mao drunkards noodles. 



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Chote Chitr
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis


 

Chote Chitr is a tiny family restaurant that rose to fame after former Bangkok Post food critic Bob Halliday took a NY Times correspondent to the no frills 5 tables eatery and knocked his socks off. Actually, Chote Chitr has been perfecting its recipes for 100 years, as the restaurant and its recipes developed by ancient royal courts have been passed down to the owner from her grandmother, and is famed in Bangkok food circles for being one of those rare places that uses traditional hard to find ingredients. The mee krop (sweet and spicy crispy fried noodles) at Chote Chitr is unlike you will find anywhere else, crunchy vermicelli noodles exquisitely flavored with a sweet, sour, and spicy sauce made of palm sugar, ginger, lemongrass and tamarind. Also recommended are its yam hua plee banana leaf


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Or Tor Kor (Marketing Organisation for Farmers) Produce Market is popular for its colorful and top notch produce, with all of the high end restaurants in town coming here to stock up on what is arguably the town's best fruit and veggie selection. However, many overlook the food courts in the back, several of which serve up some of the most excellent selections of Thai curries and other local street food or khao raat gaeng (curry over rice) dishes that you'll find anywhere in Bangkok. You'll pay at least double what you'd pay on the sidewalk elsewhere in Bangkok (around 70-80 baht for 2 toppings with rice), but the quality again is probably at least twice that of most places, and the various curries, ranging from Massaman to gaeng kiaow waan green curry are just outstanding.


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May Kaidee's started as a backpackers vegetarian cafe, serving the masses on Khao San Road, and has grown over the years to now have three branches in Bangkok, one in Chiang Mai, and there are even plans for a New York establishment, which is where the owner lives for part of the year. Food here has been modified a bit to fit the foreign palate, and in sticking with healthy options, the restaurant uses no MSG, nor even fish sauce, instead replacing it with soy sauce. The menu features over 50 dishes created by May Kaidee, all of them vegetarian or vegan. May Kaidee's is also immensely popular for its cooking school as well as for its cookbooks and apps devoted to healthy Thai cooking.


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Pad kee mao, or drunkards noodles can be found at many street stalls for 30 baht a plate, but for an experience that has been written up by food critics around the world, head over to the Saochingchao District of Bangkok to Jay Fai. Stuck in one of Bangkok's last timeless neighborhoods, where skyscrapers and designer malls don't exist, Jay Fai is a small no frills shophouse eatery, but what sets it apart are the 280 baht drunken noodles that come with ultra fresh monster prawns made by an auntie who has been serving the faithful for 60 years. Jay Fai is also renowned for its rad na, which is a close cousin of pad kee mao, made with a gravy that is thicker and nowhere near as spicy as the drunkard's noodles. It also is served with giant prawns, as well as squid and scallops.


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Dusit


 

While the food here certainly isn't the best you'll find along the river, In Love nevertheless is a relaxing spot to chill out at and take in the great views of the Rama VIII Bridge, especially at night when it is all lit up. Dig into some gaeng som tamarind flavoured soup with large shrimp, or try some spicy tom yum. The menu is extensively Thai, and the small venue is usually filled with young Thai couples, as the name seems to have brought a windfall of first dates to impress and get in the mood. Sunset is a particularly good time to show up, enjoy a few cocktails, and watch the light show begin.


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Dusit


 

This small Polynesian tiki style bar housed in the former Seven Spoons restaurant location pays homage to good old American comfort food. The four tables in here are surrounded by wooden walls festooned with Navajo and Mexican rugs, and Polynesian ethnic knick knacks, and the atmosphere is cozy and very warm, made all the more so by owner Wham's cordial and charming personality, Wham, a graphic designer by trade, grew up eating American food, eventually opened up a burger place in Bangkok, and now serves up surf n turf burgers, three-day slow-cooked ribs with lemon and herbs, and superb chicken wings glazed with soy and Sriracha sauce, honey and herbs. There are home-brewed beers and signature cocktails to go with the food as well.


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Eclectic meets Mediterranean at this unique hidden gem that focuses on healthy and often organic food sourced from local markets and growers. It's out of the way to get here, but where else in Bangkok are you going to find quinoa salads or Vienna sausages with applesauce? Other highlights include Moroccan meatballs on spaghetti, gnocchi with gorgonzola, felafel, and chicken tagine. There are also superb signature cocktails to choose from like the Silver Spoon, made with Martini bianco, spiced rum, lime wedges and galangal, or the Better Weather, with bourbon, wild honey, ginger, and apple juice. The minimalist decor lets you focus on the food, and it's a relaxing and homey old Chinese shophouse to hang out in, not to mention the staff are knowledgeable and friendly.


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For Dusit's best and most intimate seafood deal, this rather nondescript simple eatery is on a dock on the Chao Phraya River, hidden down an alleyway by the National Library. They serve up delicious and large portions of fresh shrimp, fish, and other seafood dishes to those in the know. Try the larb pla duk foo, as strange of a catfish salad as you'll ever come across, simply fantastic, along with some of the large barbecued prawns. The very local atmosphere enhances the meal and scenery as well. There is no wine here though, you'll have to bring your own (which is okay), this is strictly a cold beer with ice and local whiskey joint.


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Decorated in a colorful retro style, this 60 year old traditional Thai house is the setting for one of Bangkok's hidden gems, and is an excellent spot for a romantic sunset dinner. It is tough to find and a bit far out, but well worth the effort, as Steve's Cafe and Cuisine serves up good Thai food in a great setting, right out on the Chao Phraya River in a spot well away from the crowds. The menu is Thai, and in fact "Steve" the owner is a Thai too. While the dishes are toned down for tourist palates, they are still tasty, and you can try some harder to find southern dishes like kua kling (spicy minced pork with herbs) or the fragrant gaeng luang sai bua gung (lotus stem soup with shrimp), as one of the owners is a southerner. It's a relaxed place in a quiet setting, and one of Bangkok's more enjoyable riverside spots. The fabulous views of the Rama VIII Bridge at sunset and the lovely traditional old Thai home that the restaurant is housed in also enhance the experience.


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Chon is the elegant Siam Hotel's signature Thai restaurant. It's set in a pair of century old Thai teak houses, formerly owned by by an antique dealer and OSS agent who spent time entertaining the likes of Jackie Kennedy, John Rockerfeller, and Roger Moore in the beautiful classic houses, which overlook a quiet and extremely scenic part of the Chao Phraya River. Lest you forget why you're here, the food is equally as impressive. Food from the country's different regions are shown off, with delectable northern treats like khao soi curried noodles with chicken and gaeng hang lay Burmese Shan pork curry topping the bill. Fine dining in Dusit doesn't get any better than this.


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Meet Dave Stamboulis

Dave Stamboulis is a travel writer/photographer based in Bangkok. Born in Athens, Greece and growing up in the U.S., Dave first discovered Bangkok while on a 45,000-kilometer bicycle trip and...  More About Dave

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