Lao Dtom Lao
This effortlessly hip opening is super affordable.
The buzz: This Old Town newcomer serves up incredibly affordable—and tasty—Lao cuisine in a setting that's fun and effortlessly hip.
The vibe: With its rustic facade, Lao Dtom Lao blends seamlessly in with its Old Town neighbors. Inside, industrial black metal pendant lamps, distressed walls, wooden tables and red metal chairs converge for a cool, laid-back vibe. Vintage touches like an old cash register and fringed lamps lend an old-school edge. A stand of postcards comes with a wider story about keeping tradition alive—the local post box has been relocated especially so that customers can send cards after their meal (stamps provided).
The food: Though under the same owner as nearby Mediterranean mainstay Seven Spoons, the cuisine is led by a Lao chef, who uses thick ribbons of papaya and bitter Lao olives in the tum Savannakhet (B90); dark mushrooms in the thick and herbaceous spicy soup (B120) served in a clay pot; and pickled vegetables, crispy pork rind and salty riverweed in the mee kua Lao (B80)—Laos’ sumptuously flavorful version of pad Thai. Don't leave without sampling their signature homemade spicy Lao pork sausage (B120). The singular, simple dessert of grilled sweetcorn wrapped in corn leaf (B90) may not sound like much but you'll be surprised by the luciously creamy, coconutty dish.
The drinks: Cocktails like the refreshing Isan Mojito (B250) keep it local with Thai basil, Isaan Rum, passionfruit and Angostura bitters. Beer Laos (B120)—of course—is available alongside a handful of craft beers. Non drinkers can stick to their refreshing juices: house-made lemonade (B70), fresh sugarcane (B60), roselle (B60).
The music: Thai funk, molam and Afrobeat create a good-times vibe.
Why we'd come back: This rare spot offers the holy trinity of a cool setting, great food and affordable prices. It's ideal for casual meet-ups and big celebrations alike, with a menu wide enough that you'll never get bored.