Food is a local obsession on Thailand’s busiest, most vibrant island. With a cuisine strongly influenced by its Hokkien, Tamil, Muslim and Portuguese heritage, everyone has strong opinions on the best places to eat in Phuket. Including us.
Cantonese is king at this old town staple. Despite Hong Kong’s glossy, glassy makeover, the kitchen still plays to its great strength – seafood. Take your ordering cues from the live tanks lining the walls (giant sea snails perhaps?), or trust us and order the steamed snow fish doused in ginger soy.
22 Ratsada Road, Talat Yai
Arrive before sunset and take a table poolside at the Foto Hotel for panoramic outlooks over west coast beaches. The food at this hip canteen is more original than its blackboard graphics and designer lighting would suggest; their seafood pad thai and kanom jeem are solid Thai standards.
Kata-Saiyuan Road, Kata Beach
Mr Niyom’s Kitchen is not for the timid. At this basic lunch spot set in the carports of two family homes, English is barely spoken so diners point at laminated food photos and hope for the best. With luck it’ll be a palate-popping, southern Thai version of tom yum soup, and the best Thai omelette, khai jiao, on the island.
54 Ratsadanuson Road, Phuket Town
Raya is Phuket’s most celebrated restaurant – for its nostalgic shophouse setting, for its seriously good cooking, but mostly for the irrepressible Madame Rose who launched this thriving business 20 years ago. Try prawns any which way – they’re always great quality – and Rose’s four-hour pork with 40 secret herbs.
48 New Dibuk Rd, Phuket Town
Mor Mu Dong
This popular outdoor eatery has a charmed setting of thatched dining huts on stilts above tidal flats. Come here for the sanuk (good times) and for uncommon Thai dishes like leafy goose-tongue greens stir-fried with oyster sauce and boned mackerel stuffed with tod mun pla (fishcake).
Mu Dong Soi, Chalong
Sri Panwa boss Vorasit Issara is mad about cooking and eating; that passion shines through in his resort’s signature dining room, Baba Soulfood. Menu highlights include his grandmother’s ‘hell curry’ of chicken, which is not as painfully spicy as it sounds. The duck larb, on the other hand, sets the mouth on fire.
Sakdidej Road, Tambon Vichit
Giovanni Ferrara and his wife Chonticha run this cosy, 30-seat Italian favourite. Pastas are made in house – perhaps linguini paired with local lobster – alongside classics such as osso bucco and tiramisu.
352 Phuket Road, Phuket Town
Acqua, Sardinian chef Alessandro Frau’s strikingly modern restaurant at Kalim Beach, serves top-notch Italian in glamorous surrounds. Frau’s Sardo roots show in the bottarga (dried mullet roe) showered over an artichoke salad, and in fregola with clams and lobster. All consumed on a showy poolside terrace with Andaman views. Frock up.
324/15 Prabaramee Road, Kalim Bay
Australian designer John Underwood’s bold carpentry gives this split-level space the look of an upturned boat on a rocky coastline. Come for cocktails, stay for dinner – the penne diablo with chicken and chorizo gets rave reviews.
314 Phrabaramee Road, Kalim Beach
There’s no mystery about what’s on the menu at Seafood, Trisara’s showpiece restaurant. Start with black crab or something from the raw bar before tucking into, say, a lobster risotto with white truffle and sea urchin. Trisara’s Sunday jazz brunch, a four-hour feast set to mellow tunes and ocean breezes, is a big hit.
Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay