A local’s guide to Bangkok, Thailand

Noble Horvath

eat Breakfast El Mercado This French-Spanish deli-cum-restaurant reinvents itself almost daily with frequent chef pop-ups, theme nights and a changing menu on the blackboard outside. Evenings are always booked, so opt instead for a late breakfast (try the croissants), or brunch, when you don’t have to call days in advance. […]

eat

Breakfast

El Mercado

This French-Spanish deli-cum-restaurant reinvents itself almost daily with frequent chef pop-ups, theme nights and a changing menu on the blackboard outside. Evenings are always booked, so opt instead for a late breakfast (try the croissants), or brunch, when you don’t have to call days in advance. The crowds are thinner, and service is quick. And if breakfast isn’t too early for wine for you — no judgment — check out El Mercado’s extensive list.

BTW: Head inside to the cheese deli, where you can customize your own cheese plate.


El Mercado, 490 Soi Phaisingto, Khlong Toei, Bangkok, Thailand 10110

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Breakfast

Little Home Bakery Thonglor

Founded in 1951, this Filipino-Thai institution is known for its soothing, home-style Thai and Western food, including delicate silver-dollar pancakes that never disappoint. The interior at this location used to be a bit kitsch (see: faux logs), but in the past few years, everything (including the menu) has been updated. A luxury version of Little Home has spread to shopping malls, but the charm doesn’t match that of the original. Some of the waitstaff have worked here for decades, and it’s just not the same without them.

BTW: This is less of a foodie destination and more of a hangover/flu salve if you want something quick, simple and healing. The best dish is the green curry with roti: rich, flavorful and delicious.


413/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55, Khlong Tan Nuea, Wattana, Bangkok, Thailand 10110

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Lunch

May Veggie

May Veggie is vegan, and therefore a love-it-or-hate-it kind of deal. This homey restaurant feels like a community space thanks to its ever-changing charity artwork and bulletin board of events. Its dishes may be polarizing, but the herbal drinks, desserts, fries and anything with avocado are a unifying hit. Sitting down to a fresh coconut juice (served in the husk) is one of the most refreshing things you can do. Vegan ice cream, yogurt and confections sell quickly because they’re simply delicious.

BTW: This place gets packed around 7:30 p.m., so making it a lunch stop is ideal.


May Veggie, 8/3 Ratchadaphisek Rd., Khlong Toei. Bangkok, Thailand 10110

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Lunch

Som Tam Nua (Siam Square)

Som Tam Nua was on-trend before Northeastern Thai food caught on with the international culinary world. This franchise features both traditional (salted crab and fermented fish paste) and innovative versions (sweet corn shavings) of som tam, the pounded papaya salad. Fatty slices of grilled pork neck, marinated beef strips and pork crackling round out the menu. Intense flavors, fast-food-style service and the cheap prices make this a perennial favorite among teenagers, as well as workers from neighboring offices. It’s a perfect break from people-watching in Siam Square.

BTW: It’s particularly busy at noon and on weekends.


Som Tam Nua, 392/14 Soi Siam Square 5, Rama 1 Rd., Pathum Wan. Bangkok, Thailand 10330

Dinner

Barcelona Gaudí

Ask Bangkok’s Spanish crowd where they go for dinner, and you can bet they’ll mention Barcelona Gaudí, named after the iconic architect. The Catalonian eatery has that melty Gaudí-style facade and, true to its name, serves up authentic croquetas and other tapas dishes. The decor is always interesting: A video on Antoni Gaudí plays on repeat on one wall, and odds and ends are placed on shelves for mysterious purposes. If you’re an architect or history buff, you might be able to find their connection.

BTW: Head to the second floor if you’re a large group, and you’ll nearly always get the whole floor to yourself as long as you eat dinner “early” by Spanish standards — before 9 p.m.


Barcelona Gaudí, 13/1 Soi Sukhumvit 23, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok, Thailand 10110

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Dinner

Baan Ice

Baan Ice is Southern Thai food for lovers of intense flavors. It’s been a food destination for years, thanks to its dedication to authenticity (read: spiciness) and full-on approach to Southern flavors. This is your chance to discover Thai food’s next darling. Think turmeric, bitter and spicy vegetables, spicy yellow curries, the mouth-burning jungle curry and soy-sauce-glazed pork belly.

BTW: Beware: The southern vegetable sator can be addictive when you’re eating it, but its pungent aroma sticks around for at least a day afterward.


Baan Ice, 115 Soi Sukhumvit 55, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok, Thailand 10110

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Late-night

Took Lae Dee

If you want a real local experience, head to any of these cheap and cheery 24-hour diners, renowned for great service and dependable dishes, thanks in no small part to the personal attention of their 70-something owner. The outposts sit inside some branches of Foodland, a 24-hour grocery store. Stick to Thai dishes and you won’t be disappointed — anything with duck tends to be a hit, and they’re happy to tone down the spice level for you. At 2 a.m., you’ll see salsa dancers resting their feet, business executives still discussing deals and tired parents doing some last-minute grocery shopping.

BTW: When the restaurant is packed (as it is every lunchtime), the waitstaff is sometimes overwhelmed. If you’re in a hurry, though, they offer table service, just pay your bill at the till.


Took Lae Dee, 62 Column Tower Soi Sukhumvit 16, Khlong Toei. Bangkok, Thailand 10110

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Late-night

After You (J Avenue)

Bangkok’s iconic dessert cafe dishes out addictive treats that are Willy Wonka-levels of imaginative and delightful. The sweets range from various flavors of authentic Thai milk tea to the iconic Shibuya-style honey toast, which rivals Tokyo’s. Well-trained staff whip through the orders at the till, so if the line seems long, don’t despair — the system here works, whether you get a number for a table or not. The branches in Siam Paragon, CentralWorld and at J Avenue have never gone wrong. The J Avenue branch stays open the latest (until midnight).

BTW: The free, lightly steeped tea is actually delicious and addictive, so if you’re thirsty, opt for that instead and sip it with their latest offering: a warm, sticky toffee pudding.


After You, J Avenue Thonglor 13, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand

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