7 Spots for Superb Street Food in Bangkok

7 Spots for Superb Street Food in Bangkok

Eating is huge in Bangkok, and luckily for the famished, you won't be that way for long, regardless of the hour. You can find conglomerations of vendors selling five-star fast food (in the you-won't-have-to-wait-long-to-enjoy-it sense, not McDonald's style) for under 100 baht (roughly $3.30), beginning at the crack of dawn until well past midnight, pretty much anywhere within the city limits of the Thai capital's tourist districts. Whether you opt to get your fast food fix inside a shopping mall (making Bangkok’s retail palaces as much of a must-visit destination as the ones where Siamese royalty used to reside) or on the side of the road, satisfaction is pretty much guaranteed. Then you can sweat it off on your walk back to the hotel!

The bottom line: In Bangkok, you don't have to go to expensive restaurants to enjoy fine, five-star quality dining. In fact, you don't even have to leave the sidewalk!

1. Lumpini Park Food Market

Lumpini Park Food Market
Image Courtesy of: eric molina
If running around Lumpini Park at the crack of dawn doesn’t sound like your idea of starting the day right, get ready for the biggest guilt trip in Bangkok. Every morning, as a procession of fitness freaks and marathoners-in-training circle the green oasis in the middle of sex-and-sin city, dozens of independent vendors set up food stalls in the area surrounding the park that extends from the sidewalk outside of entrance/exit 5 to the plaza just before entrance/exit 7, catering to early risers and the sweaty masses with and without exercise on their mind. If you opt to indulge on site, you’ll have a perfect view of joggers burning calories while you consume them. Oh, the guilt! Sunday (beginning around 6am) is the big morning for this outdoor mom-and-pop food court and grocer rolled into one, with pre-prepared and made-to-order Thai food, freshly squeezed orange juice and various sweet treats on sale, and fresh fish, meat, fruits and vegetables on the raw menu for foodies, who’d rather burn calories in their own kitchens, cooking up tasty delights in the comfort – and coolness – of home.
Where to find it:
Lumpini Park
Rama IV Road, Pathumwan
Bangkok, Thailand

2. Convent Road

Convent Road
Image Courtesy of: Esme Vos
Most weekday afternoons, around lunch time, the area along the right side of Convent Road from Silom Road to Sathorn Road becomes an outdoor food aisle, with a variety of vendors offering simple meals and snacks – chicken and rice dishes (with cucumber slices on the side), soups, noodles, pineapple chunks, sweet treats and more – to eat in (using the makeshift dining-room set-up along the sidewalk) or take away. More traditional restaurants line the strip of Convent from the Silom end to BNH Hospital, too. But if you’re looking for a local dining experience at an Irish pub, called Molly Malone’s, you’re definitely in the wrong city.
Where to find it:
Convent Road
Between Silom Road and Sathorn Road
Bangkok, Thailand

3. Silom Night Market

Silom Night Market
Image Courtesy of: eric molina
One of the best things about Bangkok is that there's no last call or closing time when it comes to finding cheap food that tastes like five-star cuisine at 3am, after you’ve stumbled out of the bars and night clubs in the red-light district around Silom Road. Beginning in the area adjacent to Silom Soi 2, vendors cater to late-night revelers and compete with the 24-hour Burger King (and judging from the crowds that flock to them, they usually win), offering Thai soup, omelettes over rice and balls of assorted meats on a stick, all of which taste even better with a buzz. But be careful: Booze goggles might improve not only the looks of the new acquaintance on your arm, but the cooked insects – worms, cockroaches and other assorted creepy-crawling creatures, all farmed rather than caught in their natural habitats, on and under dirty sticky floors all over town – that have died and come back as nighttime treats.
Where to find it:
Silom Soi 2
Bangkok, Thailand

4. Thanon Pan

Thanon Pan
Image Courtesy of: m-louis .®
Tired of breaking your bank account with rich meals at upper Silom Road’s five-star establishments, like Sirocco in Lebua at State Tower? Craving a between-meal treat that doesn't come from one of the 7-11 convenience stores on nearly every corner? Or do you just want to experience eating in Bangkok the way many locals do, outdoors and free of pomp and circumstance? The row of street-food vendors, where Thanon Pan intersects Silom Road, offers snacks like chicken skewers and fresh fruit for a fraction of what you’d pay for them as restaurant appetizers or in supermarket produce departments, and they still taste just as good – if not better, since a bargain is as good as any condiment in spicing up food. Though the ambiance around midday is hot, bustling and ramshackle, the take-away here offers not only a quintessentially traditional Thai food experience, but thanks to the money you save, the possibility of splurging later on a $20 Hangovertini, 63 floors above Bangkok’s hot streets at Lebua’s Sky Bar. The drink is named for "The Hangover Part II," the film that inspired it, which was shot, in part, on Lebua's 63rd floor.
Where to find it:
Thanon Pan at Silom Road
Bangkok, Thailand

5. Oasis Food Pavillion

Oasis Food Pavillion
Image Courtesy of: Rob Taylor
Every weekday at around noon, the Sathorn and Silom districts' working masses descend upon Oasis, an indoor food court, right next to the Chong Nonsi BTS Skytrain station under Empire Tower that’s set up like the ones in Bangkok’s biggest shopping malls. Upon entering, you obtain a card from a cashier at one of several pay stations after adding as much money to it as you want to spend at the stations, most of which do not accept cash. (You can use the leftover money on the card on your next visit.) There’s a combination of cafeteria-style stations serving meat, chicken, fish, crabs and vegetables, as well as fruit and desert stands, and vendors offering full menus of made-to-order selections, most of which are in Thai and English and won’t set you back more than 100 baht ($3.30). The best and arguably most popular one prepares spaghetti and strips of breaded chicken with lemon sauce and tomato and meat sauce for 80 baht ($2.70) that will make you want to come back every day. (Look for the guy behind the grill and the line of hungry patrons watching him.) Most of the business people, who lunch here, eat in the large dining area, but the Oasis chefs cater to the take-away crowd, too.
Where to find it:
Gateway Mall
195 South Sathorn Road
Empire Tower
Bangkok, Thailand

Monday-Friday: 6:30 am-7:30 pm

6. Siam Paragon Food Hall

Siam Paragon Food Hall
Image Courtesy of: Fabio Achilli
Siam Paragon isn’t just Bangkok’s premiere super mall and its most exclusive one, too, worthy of its own BTS Sky Train stop. It is also the site of the capital’s best food court. For those craving the predictable, plenty of Western fast-food brands (KFC, Dunkin Donuts, Au Bon Pain, Dairy Queen and McDonald’s – two of them!), not to mention a liquor store, a gourmet supermarket and money changers offering much better currency-exchange rates than you’ll get from your hotel, have set up shop on Siam Paragon’s ground floor, as have numerous sit-down-dining eateries worthy of a Michelin rating. But it’s the street-food stations in the middle of the culinary action that sets Siam Paragon’s food court apart from every other shopping break in town. The possibilities are endless: chicken skewers for 20 baht ($.70) each, grilled or barbecued, hot or spicy, or dipped in gold (not really – that’s just the tantalizing hue of the finished product). Be sure to do your shopping first because once you’ve eaten, the upscale ready-to-wear glamour brands upstairs might seem positively drab in comparison.
Where to find it:
Siam Paragon
991/1 1st Floor
Rama I Road
Bangkok 10330, Thailand

7. CentralWorld Food Court

CentralWorld Food Court
Image Courtesy of: Johan Fantenberg
Fast food for foodies in a room with a view. On the top floor of the CentralWorld super mall, behind the gourmet grocery store, the high quality and tastiness of the made-to-order meals, served at each food-court station, might actually make you forget to admire the view of Bangkok down below, even if you’re lucky enough to grab one of the coveted seats along the window. Fish or chicken and rice, soup and a large glass of roselle juice will set you back about a mere 85 baht ($3), leaving you with plenty of money to splurge in the mid-range retails stores below.
Where to find it:
CentralWorld Mall
4/4 Pathumwan 1 Ratchadamri Rd,
Lumphini, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
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