Sukhumvit Road is Thailand’s longest, stretching from the capital all the way out to just short of the Cambodian border in Trat province. For its stretch in Bangkok, where it begins just along from Phloenchit and is tracked by the Skytrain route of the same name out to the border with Samut Prakan, it runs through some of the areas of the city most popular with visitors.
As a result, Sukhumvit is packed with great choices for places to tuck into a delicious meal. The area’s restaurants were also awarded with a healthy sprinkling of Michelin stars when the guide arrived in Bangkok in 2017. Here are our pick of some of the best spots to grab a bite to eat – let us know about your favourites in the comments.
It’s difficult to write a who’s-who guide to Bangkok restaurants without acknowledging the now-infamous Indian restaurant that seems able to continually scoop up all the gongs on offer. Gaggan Anand’s eponymous restaurant has taken the top spot in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking for three years running, as well as being awarded two Michelin stars and figuring at number four in the 2018 edition of BK Magazine’s Top Tables awards. Progressive, molecular Indian cuisine is the order of the day here – including classic dishes reimagined with the use of modern techniques – and the go-to is the theatrical 25-course tasting menu (6,500 baht) that includes the ‘Lick It Up’ dish (with those words templated on the plate in green-as-can-be purée) that you’ve seen all over Instagram. Just be warned: Gaggan is slated for closure in 2020 in an effort to avoid perhaps inevitable predictability.
Monday to Saturday, 6pm and 9.30pm; Soi Langsuan, Phloen Chit Road (BTS Phloen Chit); 02-652-1700; www.eatatgaggan.com
Spot the word ‘Pochana’ in a restaurant’s name, and chances are you’re in for an eating experience full of history, heritage, and great flavours. That’s certainly the case at Thonglor’s 55 Pochana, a late-night spot popular with the area’s post-clubbing crowd – as well as sober-but-starving night-owl foodies looking for a midnight fix – who come for the typically salty-and-sweet Thai-Chinese dishes that are perfect for either mopping up all that booze or else just keeping you going until morning. Get in a few bowls of porridge-like rice soup, and signature dishes like egg-fried cowslip flowers and crispy duck stir-fried with holy basil, and you’ll be sorted whether or not you’re rounding off a night of debauchery.
Daily, 6.30pm-4am; Sukhumvit Road Soi 55 (BTS Thonglor)
While Bangkok might still not be the world’s easiest city for vegetarian feasting, things are certainly getting better. Having said that, the Thai capital’s meat-free options tend to be dominated by cheap-and-cheerful options in the old-town area and elsewhere. Comparatively new opening Broccoli Revolution, in Bangkok’s trendy and moneyed Thonglor neighbourhood, is rather slicker and smarter. Already one of our picks for vegetarian restaurants in Bangkok, Broccoli Revolution serves s a mix of vegetarian and vegan dishes from across the globe, ranging from Thai-style papaya salads to mezze platters, veggie-friendly cakes, and boozy vegetable mojitos (yes please!)
Monday to Friday, 9am-10pm; Saturday and Sunday, 7am-10pm; Sukhumvit Road Soi 49 (BTS Thong Lor); 095-251-9799; www.bit.ly/broccolirevolution
Good northern Thai food can be harder to find in Bangkok than that from the country’s other regions – yet anyone who’s ventured to Chiang Mai or the surrounding provinces know that those northern flavours, in addictive dishes like khao soi and gaeng hunglay, are well worth seeking out. Smart but relaxed Gedhawa, a long-running, intimate and family-friendly northern restaurant that’s a five-minute walk from Phrom Phong Skytrain station, gets solid reviews for its staple dishes that represent good value in this part of town. Stick with what you know with khao soi gai coconutty on-the-bone chicken leg curry with stewed egg noodles and extra crispy deep-fried noodles on top, opt for more advanced northern options like kanom jeen nam ngiaw rice noodles topped with a tomato-ey, pork-based sou-like curry, or branch out with a northern-style laab salad. Whatever you choose, this is a reliable spot that delivers homely northern Thai dishes.
Monday to Saturday, 11am-2pm and 5-10pm; Sukhumvit Road Soi 35 (BTS Phrom Phong); 02-662-0501
Another Indian restaurant on Sukhumvit that deserves a recommendation, Indus might not have the same reputation as Gaggan but it certainly has its share of admirers. Serving Mughalai-style northern Indian cuisine since 2005, Indus has picked up a number of gongs for its light and easy-going dishes while not compromising on authenticity. Aside from the extensive à-la-carte selection, choose from seven- or 10-course tasting menus, a value-for-money weekday set lunch menu (399 baht). Alternatively, head over to sample the 750-baht weekend brunch buffet – including a number of live-station dishes – which, together with some solid cocktails, has a fan club all of its own.
Daily, 11.30am-2.30pm (2.45pm on weekends) and 6-10.30pm; Sukhumvit Road Soi 26 (BTS Phrom Phong); 02-258-4900; www.indusbangkok.com
There’s a lot to love about El Mercado, the sort of spot Bangkok could do with more of – so, while it’s technically closer to Rama IV, we’re running with the fact that you can access it from Sukhumvit Soi 16 and counting this as a Sukhumvit venue. Primarily a deli – or rather a chef’s market, as it’s called here – packed with the kind of top-notch European, primarily Mediterranean-vibey produce that makes you want to buy the whole lot and stuff your larder to breaking point, El Mercado also doubles as a low-key restaurant serving a short list of produce-driven dishes at its indoor tables and on the small courtyard. This is a venue that’s much in demand – reservations have become increasingly necessary – so it’s good news that the original location is now complemented at the front of the main unit by The Grocery, perfect for croissants, coffee, and the like, as well as by a second Grocery shop in Sathorn’s Suan Phlu neighbourhood.
El Mercado: Tuesday to Thursday, 9.30am-10pm; Friday and Saturday, 11am-10.30pm; Soi Phai Singto, Rama IV Road (MRT Queen Sirikit/BTS Asok); 099-078-3444
The Grocery: Daily, 8am-10pm; Soi Phai Singto, Rama IV Road (MRT Queen Sirikit/BTS Asok); 099-078-3444
The Grocery: Monday to Saturday, 11am-8pm; GP House, Soi Suan Phlu, Sathorn Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Silom)
The folks behind Supanniga Eating Room now have a second location over in Sathorn, but the Thonglor branch is the original. The concept here is a mix of eastern and northeastern Thai cooking, inspired by the owner’s grandmother’s recipes from the province of Trat in the east and Khon Kaen in Isaan. This modern diner is pulling in the plaudits for dishes that showcase produce from both regions, like the gaeng pa jungle curry, nam prik kai puu chilli dip of crab eggs, and puu jah steamed crabmeat and pork – there are also rotating specials, and a solid cocktail list.
Daily, 11.30am-2.15pm and 5.30-11pm; Sukhumvit Road Soi 55 (BTS Thonglor); 02-714-7508; www.supannigaeatingroom.com
In a gorgeously restored Sukhumvit house, Quince is a sociable, homey spot for the trendy Thonglor set, where the focus is firmly on pared back, simple yet flavoursome Mediterranean dishes that make the best of local and seasonal market produce. Expect tempting, satisfying plates like aged jamon iberico, avocado, kale and fried duck egg on toast, lamb shanks, and daily rotating risotto, plus an extensive weekend brunch menu ranging from Turkish poached eggs to shakshuka, wagyu ciabatta, and goat’s cheese soufflé.
Daily, 11.30am-1am; Sukhumvit Road Soi 45 (BTS Phrom Phong); 02-662-4478; www.quincebangkok.com
Bo.lan has long been credited with being among the first Bangkok restaurants to pioneer an elevated form of Thai cuisine that focuses on top-notch ingredients and exquisite presentation. That same dedication to quality continues today, with locally sourced and homegrown produce resulting in a seasonally rotated menu, in addition to a concerted effort to minimise waste and promote environmentally friendly practices.
With a name that’s both a combination of the owners’ names and a play on the Thai word for ‘ancient’, the menu here is a collection of classic Thai dishes reworked with modern flair. An exceptionally short a la carte menu is available at lunch, alongside a set menu of six dishes to share (courses as such aren’t a thing, and just about everything is served together), while one of a number of extensive set menus are available for evening service. Over on the riverside in the old town, Bo.Lan’s spin-off Err serves Thai cuisine with rustic feel.
Saturdays and Sundays, 12-4pm (last orders 2.30pm), and Tuesdays to Sundays, 6pm-1am (last order 10.30pm); Sukhumvit Road Soi 53 (BTS Thonglor); 02-260-2961; www.bolan.co.th
Cabbages and Condoms is perhaps among Bangkok’s most internationally famous restaurants – yet not for the food, but for the admirable cause behind the venture. Proudly touting the tagline ‘our food won’t make you pregnant’ (and giving away post-meal condoms instead of mints), Cabbages and Condoms supports the Population and Community Development Association’s promotion of sexual health awareness in Thailand. Condoms play a big part here, giving life to the quirky decor, but it’s also more generally a bright and romantic setting. The menu is extensive, and there’s a focus on locally sourced and homegrown produce, though flavours are geared towards the western rather than Thai palate.
Daily, 11am-10pm; Sukhumvit Road Soi 12 (BTS Asok); 02-229-4610; www.pda.or.th/restaurant
One Skytrain station down from Thonglor, in Bangkok’s equally trendy and increasingly pricey expat neighbourhood of Ekkamai, Bourbon Street is a bright, modern American restaurant serving up immensely popular Cajun and Creole dishes from New Orleans and beyond. Come for everything from seafood jambalaya to freshly shucked oysters, enchiladas, quesadillas, steaks, crawfish, pizzas, burgers, southern-US-style breakfasts, and even a small selection of Thai staples. The restaurant also has guesthouse rooms if you eat so much you can’t make it home.
Daily, 7am-1am; Sukhumvit Road Soi 63 (BTS Ekkamai); 02-381-6801; www.facebook.com/bourbonstbkk
Who says an American can’t cook excellent Thai food? Soul Food Mahanakorn has taken the outdated idea that Thai food is the sole reserve of Thais, and turned it right on its head. The trendy yet cosy atmosphere and authentic Thai dishes make this a popular spot with the trendy Thong Lor neighbourhood’s Thais and expats alike.
As well as increasingly rare Thai dishes like yum hua plee, a salad of banana blossoms, the restaurant turns out top-notch one-plate dishes. The reason the food at Soul Food Mahankorn is such a show-stopper is that it brings carefully sourced, high quality ingredients to street dishes with centuries of heritage. Think pad krapao and massuman cooked with lamb rather than the usual chicken, beef or pork, a northern gaeng hunglay curry that is the talk of the town, northeastern duck laab salad, tiger prawn satay and khao soi curried noodles made with slow-simmered beef brisket. There’s no stinting on the drinks, either – Soul Food Mahanakorn boasts a serious wine list and a collection of uniquely named and mixed signature cocktails including the Bangkok Bastard, the low-so Mojito (made with lao kao rice whisky from Chiang Mai) and the Jai Yen Yen.
Daily, 6-11pm (Fridays and Saturdays until midnight); Sukhumvit Road Soi 55 (BTS Thonglor); 02-714-7708; www.soulfoodmahanakorn.com
Despite what you may have heard about plans to ban street food across Bangkok, Sukhumvit Road’s street food scene is still alive and well – even if the selection of stalls on the main road is somewhat thinner on the ground than previously, many vendors having been moved into quieter side streets. Keep your eyes, ears and nostrils open, and you won’t go hungry for all the inexpensive and delicious grazing to be had along Sukhumvit.
Having said that, the former street food institution of Sukhumvit Soi 38 is no longer – at least not in the form it had come to be known for many years. Many of the street food stalls here were cleared out to make way for redevelopment of a block of properties, but a number still remain, and others still have moved to new locations around the top of the street.
Elsewhere on Sukhumvit Road, hotspots for street food include the area around Phrom Phong Skytrain station, the food-and-drink-focussed outdoor community mall at W District in Phra Khanong, and the further outreaches of Sukhumvit Road around Punnawithi and Udomsuk BTS stations, where street food culture is as on fire as it ever was.
Other places to eat on Sukhumvit
There’s an endless selection of fantastic food and drink joints all along the length of Sukhumvit Road, and we could never manage to feature all of them. But a few others that come recommended, at least along the Bangkok stretch of Sukhumvit, include:
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Which of these Sukhumvit Road restaurants is your favourite? Which other restaurants on and around Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road should we feature? Let us know in the comments!
Photos by Gaggan; Broccoli Revolution; Indus; El Mercado; Supanniga Eating Room; Quince Eatery and Bar; Bo.lan; Cabbages and Condoms; Bourbon Street; Soul Food Mahanakorn; Johan Fantenberg; Krista.