The Best Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner You'll Eat In Pai, Thailand

26 February 2019

I'll always remember Pai as being the place where I spent my first Christmas and New Year's outside the UK, the place where my boyfriend Will joined the circus (quite literally) and the place where I enjoyed some of the most delicious food I've ever eaten.

As you've clicked on this post I'm gonna guess that you're a fellow foodie who's heading to Pai (I'm actually here whilst I'm writing this and I'm still jealous of you!) and it's a pleasure to introduce you to these spots. As someone who eats 95% plant-based these are mainly vegetarian and vegan recommendations, however Will eats meat and fish and he loved the following restaurants just as much as I did. Read, visit, eat and enjoy!


Om Garden Café
You could have twenty people in your party and each of them would find something to suit their appetite at Om Garden! They offer 'main meals' such as chickpea curry or pesto penne (both of which I've had and loved), lunch options like soups, salads and sandwiches and an all-day breakfast menu with plenty of avocado toast, savoury crepes and porridges. I'm a big fan of their tempura cauliflower burger (ask for the wasabi mayo on the side, it may make your eyes water!) and really like the green 'tropical garden' decor. They also do a proper cup of tea - we're talking actual Yorkshire Tea teabags, people. I hadn't had a cuppa in about three months and it was a slice of home (and heaven, as if you know me you'll know how much I love my cups of tea!)

Big's Little Café
A popular spot with Brits, probably for the sole fact that they serve hash brows and baked beans! When they say 'little' they aren't kidding, this is a tiny hut where you pull up a stool to the bar and watch the cooks at work. This is your best bet if you're after a classic fry-up - get the big hash brown with all the trimmings and thank me later! They also serve jacket potatoes, baguettes, burgers and more brunch-like options such as Spanish omelettes.

Fat Cat
Organic home-cooked food for a reasonable price, and cats! Their cats are extremely adorable and very friendly - even if the food wasn't great I'd go here to get my cute kitty-fix. They do great herbal teas and coffees (with lots of non-dairy milk options) for about £1, and we always go for the 'on toast' option of scrambled egg or avocado with seeds which is roughly £2.20. Their sandwiches are generously filled and come with salad and chips, and they have a fridge full of vegan desserts like raw cheesecakes.


Na's Kitchen
Probably our most-visited restaurant in Pai, you must come here for a traditional Thai curry! They do all of the classics (green, red, panang, massaman etc) with rice included, so you can get a really decent and delicious feed for around £1.50. Check the back of the menu for their "one dish" options, these are even cheaper and just as tasty! Their spring rolls were also the best we had in Pai - some restaurants give you three tiny ones chopped in half, but theirs is a generous portion. Na is an angel and her warm smile always brightened our day!

Pen's Kitchen
Another cheap and cheerful one that never disappoints, Pen's became our go-to lunch spot as the meals were inexpensive, filling and always full of flavour. The portion sizes are healthy and their panang is to die for - we took two new friends from Colorado here and they agreed! I fell in love with Thai curry soup (with a side of plain rice stirred in) whilst in Pai, and Pen's Thai red or green curry soups with tofu were my favourite.

Charlie & Lek
Continuing with the theme of family-run restaurants that offer amazing Thai food with tiny price tags, we headed here for quick lunches and group meals alike. I didn't like tofu before I came here, which is saying something, as theirs isn't 'mushy' and I especially enjoyed it in their red curry and their vegetarian khao soi. If you haven't tried khao soi before, it's a coconut curry noodle soup from Northern Thailand and it's divine. Other Charlie & Lek recommendations include the papaya salad and the vegetable tempura - and if you're missing red wine, they give you a generous glass (rare in Thailand!) for 100 baht.


Le Rêve de Pai
Hands down one of the best meals I've had in my life. I'm sure that's enough to convince you to enjoy a meal here, but I have more to say so let me proceed... the menu is small and therefore extremely well executed, and from the moment we walked in and ordered two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon we were in love. Good Italian food is extremely uncommon in Pai but this is the real deal: the bruschetta is lovely, the pumpkin soup is wonderfully warming and their cheeseboard is such a pleasure after months without 'proper' cheese. Will had the salmon pasta and I had the mushroom pasta, and I'll forgive you for thinking mine sounds plain as it was anything but! They use dehydrated stalks of shitake mushrooms and I can't even explain how meat-like the texture was - it's the closest thing I've had to steak in years. Combined with silky spaghetti, beautiful red chillies and practically whole garlic cloves, it was genuinely my perfect pasta dish and every mouthful was sheer heaven. Our bill came to around £25-£30 with red wine and G&Ts included and was the perfect 'let's treat ourselves' romantic date night spot. We'll be going back for that mushroom pasta!

Update: we did indeed go back, as we decided to treat ourselves to another meal here on our last night in Pai, but we had a horrible experience. During my meal I bit onto something hard, pulled a sizeable piece of sharp broken piece of glass out of my mouth and when we told the owner, she couldn't have made it clearer that she thought we'd made it up (presumably to get a free meal?) and I was so mortified that I genuinely could've cried! It was a painfully awkward situation, she offered no apology and we left feeling incredibly uncomfortable - so whilst the food is lovely, the rude treatment was pretty inexcusable.

Maya Burger Queen
If you're British and missing 'proper' chips then you won't be disappointed with a portion of Burger Queen's fries. Chunky-cut and fluffy, you'll find yourself ordering another portion (with their homemade garlic mayo) before you've even finished the first one. Will thought their mushroom burger tasted like pulled pork, and their vegan sweet potato and pumpkin patty with avocado is so satisfying - the perfect hangover cure!

If you're finding yourself craving something different then why not give Mexican a whirl? I had a pretty average burrito at One Fine Day but an outstanding one at Cafecito! They do various Mexican classics like quesadillas, tacos, tostadas and tortas with your choice of homemade chorizo, pulled chicken, avocado or mushroom carnitas and you can add toppings such as black beans, pickled jalapeños, rice or avocado. I actually almost sent my meal back as I thought they'd given me pulled pork instead of mushroom carnitas but nope, they're just genuinely that meaty and tasty! The heuvos rancheros from the all-day breakfast menu was a real treat for Will, and the tostadas were my personal favourite. Ask for the off-menu spicy margaritas if you're in fiesta-mode!

Honourable mentions go to Nong Beer which is great for groups, Earth Tone for all the vegan food and desserts you could want, Air Restaurant for the cheapest Thai lunch in Pai and of course, Walking Street.

Walking Street (officially Chai Songkhram Road) is basically a night market selling souvenirs, clothing and all the food you could possibly want! Head here for an inexpensive meal on the go - there's falafel wraps, Mexican burritos and nachos, sushi, pancakes, gyozas and much more, all made right in front of you. Our favourite was Thai Food Bar - it's a converted vehicle where you'll find the nicest guy who cooks fresh meals to order that you eat from the bar on the side of his van. I loved his veggie mushroom green curry - just don't say yes when he asks if you want it "Thai spicy", I'm really good with spice and struggled!

If you'd like to see these meals in action, check out the weekly food diary in Pai video I made. Hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as we enjoyed discovering them!

No comments:

Post a Comment