KEY: RooftopGarden Riverside Terrace Live music
Acres of concrete, plants and steel are devoted to communal courtyards and nightlife venues at this community mall. Perhaps best are the potent cocktails at Evil Man Blues and the warehouse-style clubbing experience at Beam. Also check out the cocktails and house-party atmosphere at UNCLE, the Mexican-inspired tapas of Melbourne-born Touche Hombre, the barbecue fare at Lady Brett and the Chinese buns of Little Bao. On Saturday and Sunday, they all team up for 72 Weekend, a brunch party on the terrace (starting again this cool season, dates TBA).
72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7999. Open daily 7-2am
Above Riva is the rooftop restaurant of Riva Arun, the latest shop-house boutique hotel in Tha Tien, the neighborhood opposite Wat Arun. Head up to its rooftop—stairs only—and you’ll find an alfresco terrace where practically every table gets prime river views. Dishes add a Thai touch to Western classics, from light bites like deep-fried calamari served with a salted egg yolk and shrimp roe sauce (B325), to a take on osso bucco (braised veal) in massaman curry (B720).
Riva Arun, 392/25-26 Maharaj Rd., 02-221-1188. Open daily 6am-11.30pm
This rooftop restaurant-slash-bar sits on the 26th floor of the new riverside Avani hotel. It's all very sharing- and booze-friendly, which translates to artfully presented tapas plates with the odd nod to Asian flavors. Lamb shoulder arrives in the form of lollipops (B340) and smoked duck lacquered in fish sauce with a tea-flavored gel (B220). Also look out for the premium produce like tsarskaya oysters (B140/piece) and Australian wagyu tomahawk (B4,950). French mixologist Alexandre Hersent rolls out refreshing signature cocktails like the Bora Bora Paradise Island (Absolut pear vodka, curacao, Joseph Cartron banana liqueur, apple juice and coconut ice cream, B380).
26/F, Avani Riverside, 257 Charoen Nakorn Rd., 02-431-9100. Open daily 5:30pm-1am
The year’s most anticipated restaurant hides a few outdoor tables up on its top floor, where a brutalist raw concrete balcony overlooks Sathorn Soi 12. Fresh, simple, well-executed, original yet devoid of gimmicks, there's a reason Bunker’s food has people excited. Some of it verges on tapas portions, but the flavors are anything but small: wagyu tartar spiked with daikon radish (B400); cured foie gras paired with candied cashew and chili mango (B550); smoky wagyu short rib glistening with fat (B2,300 for 2-person). Cocktails from Diageo World Class 2015 finalist Natakorn Changrew complete the package.
118/2 Sathorn Soi 12, 092-563-9991. Open daily 6pm-midnight
Over at the grill at one of the latest rooftop bars in town, they cook up some amazing local beef from French butcher Arnaud Carre (of Arno's)—one of the most respected food names in town. Char takes up the top two stories of the recently opened Hotel Indigo, with a stylish dining room downstairs and the rooftop bar up above to benefit from those amazing views across Bangkok's "Embassy Row." Steaks start at B650 for 180g of 100-day grain-fed Black Angus.
25-26/F, Hotel Indigo, 81 Wireless Rd., 02-207-4999. Open daily 6pm-midnight. BTS Phloen Chit
Italian cuisine courtesy of one of Bangkok's most lauded chefs (Norbert Kostner), a riverside terrace and the Mandarin Oriental's iconic Author's Lounge in the background make this one of the river's easiest spots to recommend. It's more casual than the other restaurants at Bangkok's oldest hotel (though they'll still shoo you away if you turn up in shorts), dishing out Italian staples like wood-fired pizzas (starting B340) and beef stew with polenta cream and gorgonzola (B610).
Mandarin Oriental, 48 Charoenkrung Soi 40, Oriental Ave., 02-659-9000. Open daily 6-10:30pm
A huge rotisserie oven imported from France dominates this warm, rusticated restaurant, telling you everything you need to know about Cocotte’s food: simple, on the bone, portioned for sharing and heavy on the meat (don’t miss the massive tomahawk, from B3,750/1.4kg). That’s not to say their vegetable dishes aren’t great too, especially the salad made from up to 15 Northern Thailand-grown vegetables (B360). Sit out on the terrace and you avoid the dining room’s weird red lighting.
G/F, 39 Boulevard, Sukhumvit Soi 39, 092-664-6777. Open daily 11:30am-2:30pm; Sun-Thu 6-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 6-11pm
Good food takes center stage at the loft-like, open-plan community mall from the siblings behind Roast cafe. The ambitious project works kind of like a food court, only a really, really good one. Diners can order their favorite dishes from the various food kiosks—fusion burgers from Soul Food 555
, Mexican from Barrio Bonito
, pies from Holy Moly
, to name a few—then dine at the central communal area inside or outside. Don’t forget to check out the cocktails at Track 17
335 Thonglor Soi 17, 089-152-2677. Open daily 8am-1am
Designer Alan Barr’s striking reinvention of a house at the quiet end of Sukhumvit Soi 47 puts the backyard to use with some lively and lounge-y garden furniture. The restaurant brings together freshly brewed coffee, modern Australian cuisine and well-paired cocktails. Try our favorite, the slow-roasted ocean trout with wakame butter, caviar and pennywort (B1,600 for a 900g fillet).
28 Sukhumvit Soi 47, 02-662-4936. Open daily 5:30pm-midnight
Set in an 80-year-old colonial-style house, this voodoo-themed bar brings a touch of mystery to Bangkok’s nightlife. On top of live jazz, weekends also see visits from a fortune teller. As well as cocktails named after zodiac signs (B290), they also have 12 different mojito flavors (B290). The outdoor area connects with Mahanaga, a Thai-fusion restaurant from the same owner.
2 Sukhumvit Soi 29, 02-662-3060. Open daily 5:30pm-midnight
This grand old villa reborn as a cocktail lounge and Italian grill restaurant boasts some of Bangkok's most incredible cocktails—head bartender Pailin “Milk” Sajjanit just got named Southeast Asia Bartender of the Year at the 2016 Diageo World Class awards. The adjoining restaurant specializes in charcoal-grilled cuts of seriously premium meat (Spain’s dry-aged rubia gallega is the star of the show at B5,400 per kilo), best enjoyed on a seat from the spacious garden terrace.
1098/2 Rama 4 Rd., 02-286-8833. Open daily 6pm-1am
The chic terrace at this very upmarket take on a Spanish tapas joint is the place to be spotted with Soi Ruamrudee's in-crowd. A former chef de cuisine at El Bulli had a hand in the menu, which dishes out refined versions of tapas staples like Iberico ham croquettes (B480), grilled octopus tentacles served with beans in Castilian stew (B460), baked fish fillet with potatoes and almonds and the highlight Josper-grilled, Segovian- style suckling pig (B680).
Athenee Tower, 63 Wireless Rd., 02-1688100. Open daily 11am-2pm, 5pm-midnight
The renovated house on Soi Goethe sits peacefully in grounds that include a cozy outdoor terrace where you can dine outdoors, lounge on a sofa or play a game of petanque. The chef, Nino Scognamillo, takes La Casa Nostra in a comforting direction with creations like grilled Sardinian pecorino cheese with eucalyptus honey and fresh figs (B180), paprika-spiced roasted octopus on potato veloute (B490), and plenty of pasta dishes. Owing to the partnership with Global Vineyards, their wine menu is a peach. Try the 2011 Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva (B175/75ml, B280/125ml, B1,400/bottle).
22 Sathorn Soi 1 Yaek 2 (Goethe), 02-287-2402. Open daily 11:30am-midnight
This Mexican spot sits in a garden down the surprisingly peaceful Thonglor Soi 7, far from the bustle of the main drag. And the Mexican owners’ traditional corn tortilla tacos are so good you’ll want to keep the place a secret. The carnitas (braised pork, B280) comes with a mind-blowing sauce made with imported Mexican chilies. Other fillings include al pastor (spiced marinated pork with pineapple, B280) and choriqueso (house-made chorizo mixed with melted cheese, B300). Wash your meal down with a Day of the Dead beer (B220) or margarita (B240).
145 Thonglor Soi 7, 090-913-2131. Open Wed-Sun 5-11pm; Mon 5-11pm
Chef Thanunya “Gai” Kaikaew is the only female chef from the Iron Chef Thailand TV show. Her specialty lies in sweets, so it’s no surprise that desserts star at her restaurant. The lovely wooden house and garden it inhabits wouldn’t be packed out on weekends were it only for vanilla souffles (B220), though. Thanunya also has a solid savory menu with plenty of brunchy nods; and she is backed by impeccable service.
417 Narathiwas Soi 24, 02-674-0442. Open daily 11am-10pm
The same owners as Ekkamai live music spot Baan Puen dish out a solid menu of signature cocktails (from B260) as well as food worthy of a full-blown restaurant (our favorite: larb omelet, B145). Ignore the space downstairs and head straight up to the open-air terrace, which hosts live music every evening with a focus on '90s retreads amid checkered floors, dangling greenery and sheets billowing from the ceiling.
ACMEN Complex, Sukhumvit Soi 63 (Ekkamai), 084-656-2542. Open daily 6pm-1am
Starchitect Duangrit Bunnag followed up Never Ending Summer with this Euro bistro with a vast terrace that leads right up to the water. Comfort food like fisherman’s stew (B240), crab cakes (B350) and beer-battered fish and chips (B550) go down as easily as bar manager Dheeradon Dissara's Thai-infused cocktails. Try the Gold Gold Gold (prosecco, mango puree and gold leaves, B350) and Pina Pamila (Malibu, rum and palm juice, B300).
Jam Factory, 41/5 Charoen Nakorn Rd., 02-861-0953. Open daily 11am-11pm
Sitting on top of Hotel Once, this multi-level bar and grill offers 360-degree views from its upper level. You come here for quiet, intimate evenings and small gatherings among friends in an area of the city which is only just waking up to nightlife—but which has the authentic atmosphere of old Bangkok. The food menu however is not so Thai, offering a selection of barbecue specials like pork, chicken, beef, salmon and shrimp as well as pastas. To drink, it's cocktails or local and imported beers.
8-9/F, Hotel Once Bangkok, 2074/99 Charoenkrung Soi 72/2, 02-688-2596. Open daily 6pm-midnight
Alfresco 54th-story views complement fresh, Mediterranean decor that feels anything but stuffy. It's a fitting backdrop for an equally laidback menu of authentic tapas: some 40-odd treats like Joselito ham (B790-1,290), live Boston lobster sashimi (B1,200), oysters (B160-190), Cochinillo suckling pig (B1,490, serves 2-4 people) and wild porcini mushroom croquettes (B190). Thirsty? There's a whopping 36 wines by the glass here.
54/F, Centara Grand at CentralWorld, 999/99 Rama 1 Rd., 02-100-6255. Open daily 4pm-1am