Around the corner from backpacker central Khao San, Phra Athit Road has never been more happening. Here are all the highlights.
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Wing N Thing NEW!
This eatery takes pride in two things: fried chicken and gin. The kitchen rolls out sets of crispy fried wings (starting at B160 for six pieces) with a choice of eight dipping sauces, from Jack Daniel’s barbecue and cheese to Thai-inspired basil caramel, tom yum mayo and “chili from hell.” Pay an extra B40 for sides like hash brown, onion rings or mashed potato. Other stuff on the menu includes New Orleans wings (B160), bacon grilled cheese (B190) and tom yum kung thin-crust pizza (B300). The bar's focus on gin results in refreshing cocktails like the Master Peach (B200), a blend of gin with peach schnapps, syrup, lime juice and a dash of bitters, served with popcorn. They also serve imported beer like Brewdog Punk IPA (B250) and Brother's cider (B250).
086-605-0158. Open Tue-Sun 4pm-1am. on.fb.me/1Oz3WhQ#sthash.u4aRYwWf.dpuf
A strong contender for the best and most cintroversial burgers in town, Escapade is crammed into a tiny shop-house with an equally petite garden out the back. As well as burgers, mixologist Karn Liangsrisuk and chef Chalermpon “Van” Rohitratana whip up some strong and creative milkshakes and cocktails. Pull up a stool at the tiny bar and ask for the newest ingredients or latest homemade liquors. Try the Quarter Cow (two beef patties, two slices of cheddar cheese with truffle sauce). Be prepared to meet some new friends, as diners practically sit on top of one another. Note that while you can still order classic cocktails and boozy shakes, many of the bottles have now moved to Rarb (see below).
087-363-2629, 081-406-3773. Open Tue-Sun 12pm-midnight
This latest opening by the same duo behind Escapade has replaced the glass box that used to be Foong. It’s now a fun, compact space with a bit of a construction site feel—stickered and sprayed zinc roof sheets and bare, cracked concrete. Here, the focus is on the well-stocked bar, with a short list of rotating cocktails and customized drinks as highlights. Inspired by the food you can find in traditional larb restaurants, chef Van plays with Thai dishes that draw on his Isaan roots and countrywide research.
Peeps Thai Eatery
Sisters Nisarat and Panida Traitrongsat brought back restaurant experience from New York to open up this friendly eatery. Named after the first restaurant they worked at in the Big Apple, Peeps serves up comforting Thai and Western food with a few twists. The highlight dish is the spicy and herby pad Thai tom yum kung (B135; B220 with river prawn), a combination of two Thai classics. Other offerings include chicken breast with sweet and sour mango sauce and salad (B180) and barbecue pork chop (B195). Also try the signature mango beer (blended mango puree with local beer, B160). Vegetarian versions of all dishes are available, too.
089-674-6309. Open Mon-Thu 9am-8:30pm; Fri-Sat 9am-9:30pm
Homey, 20 years old, and run by a family who’ve filled it with their personal collection of old records and toys, there’s a lot to like about Joy Luck Club. The menu, while not strictly vegetarian, has got a wide range of healthy, meat-free dishes. One of the newer items here sees a fusion of Indonesian soybean and syrupy Thai sweet-spicy sauce joined by diced pumpkin, carrots, mushrooms, green peas and onion (B140)—simply some of the best tempeh we’ve tried.
02-629-3112, 086-081-4433. Open daily 11am-midnight
This restaurant is set in what was once an old boatyard right by Phra Athit Pier, and you can still see remnants of this former life, in the form of the old pulleys, crates and buoys that adorn the dining area. Having debuted as a New American diner, Sheepshank has since taken a more European route with its new menu. Helmed by chef Somkiat "Joke" Pairojmahakij, of Seven Spoons, it’s no surprise you’ll find Mediterranean dishes like razor clams in lemon butter sauce (B340), salmon filets with sweet pea hummus (B490) and Paris ham ravioli with burnt butter and thyme (B380). They also serve a decent selection of wines and craft beer.
02-629-5165. Open Tue-Thu 5:30pm-midnight; Fri-Sun 5:30pm-1am. www.fb.com/Sheepshankpublichouse
Sun Street Panini NEW!
Right across from Phra Sumen Fort, Sun Street Panini is one seriously cute Italian restaurant. Florence-hailing chef Spartak "Luca" Gjoni whips up home-cooked, Tuscany-inspired dishes like lasagne duck sauce (B250) and, our favorite, calamari ripieno, which sees stuffed squid with homemade sausage, boiled egg and parmesan cheese, cooked in tomato sauce (B230). The chef makes his own sausage, porchetta, bread (try it in one of the paninis, B150-190) and tortelli (stuffed pasta, B265-290). Finish your meal with delicious tiramisu (B105) or apple cake (B90).
082-454-8884. Open Wed-Mon noon-10pm. www.fb.com/sunstreetpaninibkk
Launched with the name Fisherman, this decade-old restaurant has not only gone through a name change but also moved location. Venice Vanich moved from Tha Maharaj to this riverside wooden house on Phra Athit about three years ago. The focus is on Thai food, with some Thai-Chinese and Western dishes adding variety to the menu. Recommendations include deep-fried whole sea bass with fish sauce (B450) and somtam khai kung (shrimp roe papaya salad with coconut palm, B140).
02-282-1922, 084-460-4765. Open daily 11:30am-10pm
The special ingredients brought down from Ubon Ratchathani are the selling point of this shop-house. The noodle dishes are cooked one by one along with your choice of different toppings like eggs and mushrooms. Even though portions are not very big, the gooey soup is just amazing, plus the moo yor (sausage) is peppery and fragrant thanks to the quality pork meat. Make sure you get a seat on the footpath if you don’t want to get all sweaty inside the steamy shop-house.
085-246-0111, 089-056-5777. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm
This cozy restaurant is an ideal spot to enjoy a cocktail by the river. There is an air-con area, but we say stick to the al fresco terrace and revel in the river view and fresh breeze. Service can be a bit laidback, but the spacious layout affords intimacy for a romantic, easy-going dinner—quite a rarity on this road. The menu offers a variety of pocket-friendly Thai and international dishes. Start your night with a signature Aquatini Dream (rum, pineapple juice and triple sec, B220).
Navalai River Resort, 02-280-9955. Open daily 6:30pm-1am. www.navalai.com.
Delicatezza Baan Phra Athit
That large space that’s now Munch and Mugendai on Thonglor Soi 10 used to be Delicatezza, before it moved to the Old Town a couple of years ago. The owner does all the cooking herself (meaning the restaurant can’t open if she’s away or busy). Be sure to check their Facebook page before visiting.
02-629-5775. Open Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm; 5:30-11:00pm. bit.ly/1UGoXMy
Riva Surya’s restaurant and bar is decked out in contemporary French decor. Visit at sunset for the full deal: comfort food, tasty cocktails and views that take in the river and two bridges (Pinklao and Rama 8). Highly recommended come the smoked salmon and avocado salad (B280), best enjoyed with cocktails like Jamaican Fizz (vodka, mango fizz, mango, syrup and lime juice, B290). Quite possibly the best spot for a swanky meal on Phra Athit Road.
02-633-5000. Open daily 10:30am-10:30pm. www.rivasuryabangkok.com
Opened as a street stall by an Indian immigrant after World War II, this Thai-Muslim establishment later moved to its present location. It's a simple two-story affair renowned for its stuffed roti. That’s not all they have to offer—there’s a range of soups, biryanis and curries, too. Our favorites have to be the salad khaek (Middle Eastern salad, B60) and the mataba with mixed filling (B39).
02-282-2119. Open Tue-Thu 9:30am-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 9:30am-10pm
Soay has been a popular guay tiew nuea (beef noodles) spot for decades. The place is now run by the second-generation owner who continues to serve this succulently mild beef soup. Your bowl of noodles (B60) comes with juicy beef and properly cleaned entrails. They now also open at night, serving beef hot pot sets (B295).
083-495-3129, 086-982-9042. Open daily 7am-11pm (except the second and fourth Wednesday of the month)
This cozy cafe specializes in a 30-year-old family soy milk recipe. Enjoy straight-up soy milk (B45) or ice cream stick with toppings (B65), along with proper dishes like roasted chicken with rice (B165).
02-629-1299. Open Mon-Sat 9:30am-8pm
Saffron’s 19th birthday’s just passed and this warm bakery is still going strong. Headed by an ex-UFM bakery instructor, the shop offers more than 20 kinds of cakes, pies and other pastries. Don’t judge the treats by their rustic, old-school look—there are some real flavors here. The coconut cake (B130) comes perfectly moist, topped with light and refreshing cream and young coconut meat, while the ricotta cheesecake (B110) boasts delicious zesty notes.
02-281-4228. Open daily 8am-9pm
Delicious pastries star at this sweet spot acoss from Phra Sumen Fort. The Le Cordon Bleu-graduate owner has been making a variety of French desserts here since 2006. Some of the creations include Paris-Brest (B120) and strawberry cheesecake (B165). They also serve tea from France (B120/pot) and coffee from Italy (starting B60).
086-889-1383. www.fb.com/page.annsweet. Open daily noon-8pm
This pirate-themed cafe brings board game culture to Phra Athit. For at B40/hour, you can enjoy classic games like The Settlers of Catan, Splendors, Camel Up, Dixit, Ultimate Werewolf and some 100 more titles. Food covers Mexican fare like quesadillas and a twist on fried rice. For dessert, try the crispy waffle with ice cream and salted egg yolk sauce (B135). Espresso starts at B55 while there’s also homemade ginger ale at B80.
086-367-6071. Open Tue-Sun 10am-9pm
The unnamed juice bar
Get a boost at this cute, light blue cafe lined with colorful fruits. Through a small sliding window, you can see a lady working away to turn her fruits and veggies into juice, without the addition of sugar or water. Prices start at B60.
Open Mon-Fri noon-9pm; Sun 3-9pm
Made popular by its appearances at flea markets, this cafe does modern American-style dishes with a particularly solid line of fluffy pancakes. Try the mango cream cheese pancake (B170) with crumble, vanilla ice cream, passion fruit sauce and fresh mango while it’s still in season. They’ve recently branched out to Ratchathewi, too.
092-564-2068. Open Wed-Mon 8am-6pm
Founded in 2012, this local roaster is your best bet for coffee in the hood. Here, it’s all about carefully-selected local beans that yield bold flavors in every cup. Aside from coffee, there are some homemade rotating pastries (B45-55).
095-591-4156. Open Thu-Tue 10am-6pm. bit.ly/25Rfmb9
One of the original hip spots to have sprung up on this road, Hemlock is all intimate lighting, soft jazz tunes and chilled-out atmosphere. The thick menu packs over 500 dishes with some playful gimmicks, like marinated prawns in deep purple herbs and flower soup, served with muffin, garlic fried rice and teriyaki sauce (B650). Also try the khao hor bai bua (stir-fried rice wrapped with lotus leaf, B120). The real reason to go here is because their beer is the cheapest around, starting at B70.
02-282-7507. Open Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight. bit.ly/1XKSetZ
Another retro spot with a nostalgic living room atmosphere. Mango offers all-day dining that sticks mainly to resolutely Thai dishes like deep-fried spare ribs and tom yam. Local beers start at only B79.
086-393-2061. Open Mon-Sat 9am-11pm
A little more lavish and romantic than the competition, this place manages to stand out with its green glass door and lengthier list of imported brews. If you’re bored of Chang, there are bottles like Hitachino (B230), Erdinger (B230), Stella Artois (B180) and Hoegaarden (B190). While the ambience seems to encourage conversation, it can be a bit too loud inside when the live band's playing.
02-629-2924. Open daily 11-1am. www.fb.com/goodstorybangkok
This well-known jazz influenced bar is run by a group of lecturers from the Faculty of Jazz at Silapakorn University with the aim of providing a stage for talented young musicians, including their own students. Apart from live jazz every day, the bar offers classic drinks and a Thai food menu for dinner.
02-282-9934, 084-450-0505. Open Fri-Wed 7pm-12:30am. www.fb.com/jazZhappens/
From the outside, it doesn't show many that it's still open. But head closer, and you'll hear a danceable soundtrack, from dubstep to progressive house and drum n’ bass, that stands out from the rest. Owned by the family behind legendary electro havens Club Culture and Cafe Democ, Dickinson’s sits in a two-story space filled with colorful retro sofas and some tables on the sidewalk. Drinks-wise, the focus is on martinis such as the Culture Martini (vodka, Malibu, orange and pineapple juice, B150). Western dishes rule the menu here.
089-497-8422. Open Mon-Fri noon-1am; Sat-Sun 5pm-1am. bit.ly/1XdPLr5
Here's the big boss. The busiest bar on the street is distinguished by an antique motorcycle in its window. Even on a Thursday night, it's so jam-packed that punters resort to using the ice stands as tables, on the street. There are also fun deals; like now, if you arrive before 9pm, they give you free ice all night long. The menu offers spicy dishes like Tom Super (spicy chicken foot soup, B250). Beer starts at B110.
081-860-9187. Open daily 5pm-midnight
We don't really see the appeal of this stale-smelling veteran opened back in 2008. But for whatever reason (the live music, spicy drinking food, reasonable prices), the seats in front, which take over the space of two neighboring shops, are never vacant.
Rong Lao NEW!
This latest zero-attitude bar to let you open a bottle of Sangsom (B240) or Blends 285 (B450) and share it with your friends while listening to live acoustic music. Local beers come in large bottles from B100. The twist is the Japanese drinking dishes like edamame (B40) and takoyaki (wheat-flour dumplings, B70), plus mains like tonkatsu (B110) and chicken teriyaki (B90).
Phra Sumen Rd., 083-544-6364
The Trapeze Swingers
Hidden in a small alley that connects Phra Athit and Ram Butri roads, this vintage treasure trove has it all, from ethnic-print dresses and rock band tees to old cassettes and vinyl. You can also enjoy a beer while you browse.
081-908-1381. Open Tue-Sun 1-10pm
What makes Phra Athit so special?
Chalermpon Rohitratana, Chef-owner of Escapade
“I’ve been into the charm of this area for a long time. I like the cool Phra Sumen Fort view and basically how the whole area looks. Though the crowd is getting younger and younger, the ambience never seems to change. It’s always been the eateries and bars that make the place so dynamic.”
Nisarat Traitrongsat, Chef-owner of Peeps
“The crowd adds so much charm and livelihood to the area. One reason why we opened here is that we love the fun and openness of the people. We like that it’s walking-friendly. You can simply walk to see around.”
Somkiat Pairojmahakij, Chef-owner of Sheepshank
“It’s an area that keeps me coming back, from hanging out when I was younger, to the point I wanted to own something there. A perfect mixture of old buildings, beautiful road and the river, as well as an interesting history. That story continues. No matter how many venues change, the fort and the old buildings remain."