Where to eat the best pad thai in Bangkok
There’s no place better to experience pad thai than in Thailand - but where do you go when there’s literally a food cart on every corner? We’ve scoured the city to find our top 5 places to eat pad thai in Bangkok.
- February 2018
Stir-fried rice noodles, shrimp, egg and tofu, wok-fried with lip-smacking southeast Asian spices and a sprinkling of peanuts: pad thai is a worldwide food icon. There’s no place better to experience the pinnacle of comfort street food than in the world’s top street food city—but where to find the best pad thai in Bangkok when there’s literally a food cart on every corner? To steer you right, here’s our top 5.
One of first Asian fusion dishes
Some believe pad thai was introduced to Thailand by Chinese traders; others claim it began as a Vietnamese dish that evolved to incorporate Thai flavours over time. However it first arrived, it cemented its place as Thailand’s national dish after an acutal competition in the 1930s, held by the government as part of a drive to define the country’s identity.
And what a worthy winner. While the dish’s origins are Chinese, its delicate balance of sweet, salty and sour elements makes it unmistakably Thai, and undeniably delicious, so much so that it has been exported worldwide. But the Thai capital is where you’ll find the real deal. The golden rule when dining in Bangkok is to go where the locals go—a long queue or restaurant crowded with local faces is the best gauge of quality.
Thip Samai: you can’t beat the original
This Old City eatery opened half a century ago, and was one of the first in Bangkok to serve this now-iconic dish. Their signature egg pad thai is cooked over a charcoal fire, with an optional shrimp on top, and the generous portions here will fill even the emptiest bellies. A fantastic and healthy bonus: they serve delicious fresh orange juice, with oranges delivered daily from country growers. It’s a great place for large groups, but they don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait for a table. Don’t worry: it’s worth it.
Location: 313 Maha Chai Road
Our favourite link: Thip Samai opens in new window
Pad Thai Ekamai: seafood heaven
They claim to serve the best pad thai in Bangkok, and we think they’re being modest. Their signature pad thai Ekamai comes with an abundance of freshly prepared seafood, including two large king prawns and fresh squid—it’s well worth the splurge. There are less extravagant options for diners on a budget, making this fab little establishment accessible to everyone. Nestled in the busy Ekkamai stretch and open until 4am most nights, it’s popular with local clubbers seeking to refuel during an all-night party session.
Location: Sukhumvit 63
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Baan Phadthai: crossing the noodle frontier
It’s not uncommon for Bangkok street vendors and restaurants to fiddle with the original pad thai formula, putting their own unique spin on the classic dish. But at Baan Phadthai, their creations send the humble rice noodle into an entirely different stratosphere. The pad thai moo yang is ideal for those who shun seafood, combining a delicious noodle base with grilled pork, while their pad thai phoo is a must-try for crab lovers. There’s also a selection of delicious starters and deserts to bookend your meal, in this chic Old City eatery bursting with Thai charm.
Location: 21 Soi Charoen Krung, North Sathorn
Our favourite link: Baan Phadthai opens in new window
Pad Thai Mae Am: back to basics
If you tire of sampling all the inventive pad thai remixes around Bangkok, head to Mae Am for traditional pad thai at its best. They do just a handful of dishes, stripped back to their roots and crafted to perfection—locals flock here for takeaway, so you know it’s going to be good. The atmosphere is quirkily authentic, and you’ll enjoy your rice noodles whilst perched on a miniature stool amongst Thai locals. Plus it’s just minutes from Klong Toei station, making it easily accessible on foot.
Location: Rama 4 Road, Khlong Toei
Nara Thai Cuisine: the tourist hotspot
For the uninitiated, Nara provides a gentle orientation into the world of pad thai, catering to a more Western palate with sweeter, less spicy dishes. They only serve the freshest sourced locally seafood, and the air conditioning is a burst of swift relief if you’re wilting from the heat. Their pad thai with shrimp and crispy egg, finished with tamarind sauce, is heavenly, the portions are generous, and the mango sticky rice makes the ultimate dessert to round off your feast.
Location: 7th Floor, Central World Plaza, Ratchadamri Road
Our favourite link: Nara Cuisine opens in new window