Where to eat in Krabi

Green curry is a favourite Thai dish

Green curry is a favourite Thai dish

By Lesley Chittayanon

Sampling the local food is surely one of the main highlights of any trip to Thailand. Whether you graze at a riverside night market, slurp soup in a noodle shop, or dine at a first class hotel restaurant, Thai dishes are always bursting with colour, flavour and freshness.

Thai cuisine varies from region to region, mainly due to climate, geography and the culture of the local people. Many migrants arrived in Krabi over the last few centuries, making it a culinary crossroads. It is possible to trace influences from across Asia in Krabi’s local cuisine, particularly Chinese, Indian and Malaysian.

Natives from the north and northeast of Thailand have also set up shop in Krabi, allowing southerners to enjoy the authentic taste of traditional dishes from other regions.

While Ao Nang is the main tourist resort, most of the food on offer lacks authenticity. Krabi Town, however, boasts some of the region’s best restaurants in terms of both Thai and Western fare.

Ruen Mai, Maharat Road, is Krabi’s longest-standing restaurant, and is well known beyond provincial borders, for its exceptional food and incredible ambience.

Set in one of the town’s last leafy enclaves, the lush nature provides the perfect backdrop for al fresco dining. Meandering paths lead to tables hidden amongst rockeries and foliage, and the dense canopy of the tall trees keeps the restaurant cool throughout the day.

Ruen Mai’s menu covers all the classic Thai dishes such as tom yam kung (hot and sour soup) and green curry, as well as a few southern specialities such as gaeng som (yellow curry) andgaeng tai pla (curry with fish innards). More on Thai food.

Krabi’s coastal location means there is always an abundance of seafood dishes on the menu. King prawns in tamarind sauce is a popular dish, and goes well the delicious greens picked fresh from the jungle, such as pak miang.

The service is excellent, with friendly staff always on hand to take orders. Prices are reasonable, but adding a bottle of wine to the evening’s consumption will relieve your wallet of some weight, as imported alcohol is generally very expensive in Thai restaurants.

Right in the heart of Krabi’s tourist centre, Tamarind Restaurant, on Chao Fa Road, is the first eatery in the area to offer a wide selection of both Thai and Western dishes.

Tamarind restaurant has a chic ambience

Tamarind restaurant has a chic ambience

Located in one of the town’s oldest shophouses, the restaurant maintains its rustic charm despite the bright airy Mediterranean style decor.

Having gained a solid reputation for their culinary skills in Koh Phi Phi, the Australian-Thai duo of Carol and Toy, are now spoiling Krabi residents and visitors with their tempting menu of divine dishes and slinky cocktails.

No other establishment serves up both Thai and international food of such high quality under one roof. Whether you fancy a pizza, schnitzel or a massaman curry, it’s on the menu, and for a reasonable price. Pizzas start from 150 baht and toppings range from Bolognese to smoked salmon.

It’s a family-run set up, and the food has a real home-cooked flavour, which is hard to find elsewhere. The owners’ kids are often around - and always welcome new playmates - so it’s a great place for a family dinner. It’s also the only restaurant in Krabi town with a children’s menu.

Not far away, just opposite Nakhon Supermarket, Viva Pizzeria and restaurant is also an excellent choice for lunch or dinner. The pizza and pasta menu covers the entire spectrum of toppings and sauces, and allows for some such as imported steaks and tiramisu. The Italian owner, Renato, is always keen to enjoy friendly banter and offer tips and advice for travel in the area.

If you want to sample north eastern Thai cuisine without straying far from the beaches of the south, Loso Restaurant on Krabi Road is a great little spot to get your fill for an incredibly cheap price. This basic bamboo shack has gained the reputation for being Krabi’s top esarn (north eastern) eatery.

Traditional dishes of from the north east include som tam (papaya salad) and laab (minced meat or fish salad), plus a variety of soups, and all enjoyed with sticky rice and fresh, crunchy vegetables.

Just outside Krabi Town on the road to Ao Nang, Chiang Mai House is a charming little restaurant nestling under the leafy shade of a mountain range. The menu includes a good selection of typical Northern dishes including khao soi, which is a thick and creamy coconut broth with noodles and chicken.

This is the ideal spot to refuel after a day at the beach. Expect company while dining, as there is no shortage of monkeys and monitor lizards hanging around.

Bai Toey Restaurant enjoys a cool breezy location overlooking the Krabi River and serves really tasty Thai food. Their Thai stir-fried shellfish in curry sauce and seaweed salad is particularly good. Don’t expect dishes to arrive at speed or together, but they are delivered with a smile so the service isn’t all bad.

Ruen Tip Restaurant is lesser known among foreign visitors as it’s off the trodden tourist path; however, it has a very good reputation among locals. Just a short motorcycle taxi ride from the centre of town, Ruen Tip is hidden in a side street not far from the river’s edge.

This large restaurant has both outdoor and indoor seating, including air conditioned rooms suitable for large parties. The menu covers many delicious Thai dishes, and the food is of a similar high standard as Ruen Mai.

Krabi has a host of other restaurants to choose from, and following locals’ heels can lead you to some gems. There is also no shortage of little noodle shops and cafes around town, many with English language menus, for quick bites or takeaway lunches. More on Krabi restaurants.

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