Cafe Chilli Issan Rustic 


This Isaan chain boasts a chic mix of emerald green, colorful tiles and retro furnishings. The grilled chicken is set alight at the table with a shot of rum, while old favorites get new twists, like the laab with New Zealand mussels and spicy Australian beef.

Athenee Residence, Soi Ruam Rudi, 02-168-5152. Open Mon-Fri 11am-midnight; Sat-Sun 11am-11pm


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01 Aug ‘19 - 31 Jul ‘20




Chilli Thai Restaurant 


Elegantly decorated in contemporary style, this cafe serves up luxurious traditional Thai dishes with larb salmon, grilled lamb with jaew sauce and mixed Thai-favorite appetizers served in a basket. By street standards, the servings are small for what you’re paying, but the kitchen does a solid job, the service is smart and the ambiance is oh-so-cool.

G/F, Siam Paragon, Rama 1, 02-129-4761. Open daily 11am-10pm



Crying Tiger 


Crying Tiger is a recently-created spin-off from the Ros’Niyom Thai chain, and does a fine job at authentic street flavors within the comfort of a mall. There’s a tum poo maa (blue crab somtam) that’s salty and biting; a cucumber tum pla raa (fermented fish somtam) that’s fresh, punchy and not for the weak of stomach; and a tum kai-kem (salted egg somtam) that leads with a smack of acidity and goes easy on the sweetness—just how we like it.

Market Place Nanglinchee, Nang Linchi Soi 3, 02-287-2786. Open daily 10am-10pm



Lay Lao 


Ari’s Lay Lao serves up Isaan classics and fresh seafood from Hua Hin. The owner, a native of the royal resort town, has brought her family recipes to Bangkok in the form of somtam with crab, spicy mango salad with fresh mantis shrimp, squid eggs and monthly specials. Don’t know where to start? We’re partial to the somtam served in a tray with toppings such as naem sod, fudgy boiled egg, moo yor and kak moo. The photogenic food is matched by the decor: blond wood, corrugated steel, vintage-pattern cushions and cute wall paintings.

65-67 Phahon Yothin Soi 7, 02-023-4521. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, 5-10pm; Sat-Sun 11am-11pm



Phed Phed 


Spicy epiphanies are a given at this buzzing, compact restaurant, whose Nakhon Phanom-hailing owners guarantee a menu of authentic gaeong om (spicy vegetable soup with pork), ko moo yang (grilled pork neck) and somtam in 20 varieties. The chic mélange of blues, marble and plants can be attributed to owners Nattaphong Saehu and Nuthakorn Jivarungsinee, who started the space as a showroom for their minimalist bag brand.

Phahonyothin Soi 8, 097-918-1175. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-8pm



Somtum Der  


Khon Kaen-native restaurateur Thanaruek Laoraowirodge and chef Kornthanut Thongnum have lit up Tokyo and New York with their fiery Isaan flavors, though you’ll find the original blond-wood and bamboo branch of this som tam-focused restaurant on Sala Daeng. It packs out daily, with crowds enjoying 20 varieties of papaya salad and well-executed laab and tom saep.

5/5 Sala Daeng Rd., 02-632-4499. Open daily 11am-2:30pm, 4:30-10pm. Other branch: Thonglor Soi 17. 


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01 Aug ‘19 - 31 Jul ‘20




Zaap Classic 


Excuse the mall location and focus on the fact that this reliable chain specializes in unexpected fare you don’t find on every Isaan menu, like the deep-fried somtam with crispy shrimp, fried rice noodles and crispy pork. There’s also a range of classic somtams like poo mar (blue crab), pork rind, salted egg and Chinese sausage. We love the grilled chicken with tender, juicy flesh and crisp, caramelized skin, as well as the moo yor (pork sausage)—beautifully golden and nicely seasoned.

B/F, EmQuartier, Sukhumvit Rd., 02-261-0239. Open daily 10am-9pm.

Available to order on Food Panda.



Zaab Eli 


Turquoise walls, bright pinks and vibrant patterned tablecloths create a fun setting in which to enjoy a dizzying array of authentic somtam, spicy minced pork balls, Isaan sausages and deep-fried duck beaks, while dishes like the raw salmon laab take a dive into fusion territory. Wash it all down with a refreshing longan juice with grass jelly.

Silom Complex, 191 Silom Rd., 02-392-23317. Open daily 11am-9pm.

Available to order on Food Panda.


Put on your stretchy pants, forget about the macros and tuck in to BK Best Eats 2019. This is the Bangkok dining that ignores fancy restaurants and 10-course tasting menus and goes straight for the comfort food—steaming bowls of fat-rich ramen, triple-decker burgers, all-you-can-eat dim sum buffets with an extra helping of pork buns. In other words, the stuff most of us eat out, most of the time.

Download your PDF copy of the guide here