Last update: November 2019
Siem Reap is a tourist town, there’s no denying. Nearby Angkor Wat draws travelers by the millions from every corner of the world and they all stay in or around Siem Reap. Especially, the center of town can be a bit too crowded with tourists for my taste.
Read: “Angkor Wat – Overated!”
However, there is a good side to this. The town has adapted nicely to this influx of visitors and over time created an adequate tourism infrastructure. Moreover, there is an abundance of restaurants and eateries! And that my dears, is right up my alley. So, on my visit I just couldn’t wait to dig in and try some of the best food that Siem Reap has to offer.
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Siem Reap Food Scene
Most restaurants are located in the center of town with the largest concentration on and around the infamous Pub Street. However, don’t underestimate the quality and quantity of eateries in the neighboring quarters and the outskirts of town. That would really be selling yourself short.
Read: “Destination Siem Reap”
Being a tourist hub, there is something for everyone in the Siem Reap food section. It’s a real pity though that some of the tourist restaurants tone down the local flavors to suit the (alleged) Western palate. At the same time, Western food is often prepared by Cambodian chefs. Not all of them have truly mastered Western cuisine yet and their dishes are not always up to par.
Having said that, the large expat community that calls Siem Reap home won’t settle for mediocre tourist food. For this reason, several restaurants serving Western cuisine have stepped up their game offering a high standard to please the expat palate. The only trick is knowing where to find them.
Likewise, Cambodians from all over the country flock to Siem Reap hoping to improve their disposition by seeking employment in the tourism branch. Their arrival has instigated a wide array of rural Khmer eateries with a variety that surpasses even the capital Phnom Penh.
To say that Siem Reap is a foodie heaven would be stretching it. However, there’s great culinary reward if you are willing to put some effort into finding the right spots. Or, you can simply follow my recommendations below.
How to get to Siem Reap
For flights to and from Siem Reap use the Skyscanner website to find your ticket.
For (international) bus transport to Siem Reap use the online tool from Bookmebus.com. Skip the lines at the bus station and secure you seat.
Khmer Food – Where to eat in Siem Reap
The Sugar Palm
Outstanding Khmer restaurant that made quite a name for itself. They claim to serve Cambodian home-style comfort food, but actually the menu is mainly made up of the usual popular suspects like Fish Amok and Beef Lok Lak. However, the dishes are all clean and of high quality. Whenever in Siem Reap, this place is a must visit. Personally, I go for the Prahok Ktiss every time. Ask them to not tone down on the chilies.
Prices are a bit higher than the usual Khmer restaurant and have gone up even more since Gordon Ramsey visited and endorsed the restaurant. Nevertheless, the price level is still very acceptable for a restaurant of this standard. Starter ~$4.50, Main ~$8.
Just a bit out of the town center, but definitely worth the 5min tuk-tuk drive. The Khmer food is really good, especially the rock salt grilled fish is delicious. The cuisine is original Khmer, but the dishes are very accessible to the Western palate.
Some of the rave reviews mention the low prices. Maybe I have to re-evaluate my status, because to me the pricing did not seem that low at all. $4 on average for a starter, $5-$9 for a main dish and even up to $6-$17 from the grill is not unlike the price levels of fine dining restaurants in Phnom Penh. Is it worth it though? Oh yes!
Mahob Khmer Cuisine
Traditional Khmer cooking, but with a modern twist while still preserving the authentic flavors. Located outside of town in a beautiful wooden house and led by a revered Cambodian chef, this restaurant is a treat for the eye and the palate. Fine dining Khmer style!
09 Street, just above the old market is lined with cheap Khmer eateries serving cheap food and beer. They cater to tourists, so expect the flavors to be toned down a bit, but still tasty. I really love these kind of places, just don’t expect a night out, it’s about a quick meal only. You’ll be done eating and out of there in 45min max. I guess these kind of eateries are best for lunch.
Hansa BBQ & Seafood
When in Cambodia you have to try Khmer bbq. It’s kind of a mix between a table grill and a steamboat and a whole lot of fun. Hansa is the perfect place to try it out. It’s very popular with the locals, so you’ll be rubbing shoulders with them. Occasionally they have Western guests though so no-one will think you’re out of place. Just $6 for all you can eat. Make your choice from the well assorted raw food selection, cook it at your table and keep coming back for more.
Phteahbay Khun Mea
As local as it gets in Siem Reap (and local prices as well). Food sharing is the way Khmer have their dinners and here it’s expected that you do the same. The fried and the barbecued fish are truly outstanding and unlike anything you will get in the tourist restaurants.
There’s a lively atmosphere with locals just having a good time, which always involves food. Oh and beers, lot’s of beers. Did you know that Cambodians like to drink their beer with large chunks of ice in it? Personally, I can’t stand it, but had a great and delicious time there anyway.
Traditional Khmer Food Restaurant
Let’s say, your accommodation is around Pub Street in the center and you can’t be bothered to go too far out of your way for decent Khmer food. The solution is “Traditional Khmer Food Restaurant“, what’s in a name. Maybe it’s not 100% traditional as the restaurant caters mainly to tourists. It’s close enough though and very tasty anyway. The restaurant has a nice ambiance with friendly staff and friendly prices.
Khmer Street Food
Street food in Siem Reap is everywhere. It seems to me however that food hygiene in Cambodia is a notch down from Thailand and Vietnam. So, while most street food is outstanding and delicious, use your common sense. Yes, by all means, do eat on the streets of Siem Reap, but stay alert and use your eyes. Is the vendor using gloves? Is the food heated at high enough temperatures? Are the raw and cooked food stations separated?
Street Food Stalls
Numerous stalls are situated on and around Pub Street. Most of them target the tourists and offer from anything barbecued on a stick to nutella/banana pancakes and even fried tarantula.
There’s also an impressive row of stalls along the riverside on Acha Var Street at the corner with Makara Street.
Inside and outside the Old Market (Phsar Chas) are a great number of food stalls that are popular with the locals for breakfast. You should arrive before 8am to experience the couleur locale in full fledge. Eat shoulder to shoulder with the Cambodians and feast on popular breakfast dishes like Bai Sach Chrouk (pork over rice) and Nom Banh Chok (rice noodles in fish broth). Costs are next to nothing.
Street food galore at Siem Reaps multiple night markets, as well as in front of the old market (Street 9) after dark.
Food tours are great! There’s so much to learn about a country’s culture through the food and it’s a great way to explore the local culinary scene. Moreover, food tours are fun, informative and you’ll get to try delicious food. Need I say more?
In my opinion Siem Reap Food Tours is the only food tour operator in Siem Reap that offers authentic Khmer flavors with high quality ingredients. Not the cheapest, but absolutely the best. You should go with them, or not at all.
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Western Food – Where to eat in Siem Reap
Most of the Western food options are in the center of town. Not surprising, as this is where the majority of Western travelers are staying. There is so much choice here that at first it stressed me out. Where to eat? Here, there? What if I eat here and it’s disappointing while I could have gone next door? Or in the next street?
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry, because I already did the trial and error for you. No stress for you, just sit down, relax, eat and enjoy.
Of course there’s the inevitable Italian restaurant. It seems to me that Italian food represents one of the most popular choices of Western food for tourists in South East Asia. There’s certainly no shortage of the Mediterranean food outlets here.
My personal favorite is Mamma Shop, food wise (especially the pastas), as well as price level and ambiance. Long time restaurant Il Forno is ok and a tad more expensive. Special commendations go to La Bruchetta and Pasta la Vista for their friendly price level.
Viva Mexican Bar & Grill
Beware, because there are more restaurants with the same name. Viva on the corner of 2 Thnuou Street and Street 09 is the best Mexican restaurant that Siem Reap has to offer. Maybe not as good as your favorite restaurant back home, but still tasty and well worth your buck.
Next to Italian food, the good old hamburger is popular in Siem Reap. I recommend two establishments, both with outstanding burgers that will make you keep coming back for more.
First is “Burger Gourmand“, what’s in a name? I think this is a French owned place actually and it shows since they take great care in every detail of the burger. From the home baked buns to the hand cut fries, juicy patties and creative toppings.
Another excellent burger joint is the “Jungle Burger Sports Bar & Bistro“. Skip the sports bar part. Yeah they have a couple of screens, but that’s it. Doesn’t matter, you come here for the juicy, succulent burgers, oh boy, what a treat. Fresh bread, fresh toppings, good quality Australian beef patties and a top notch service crew.
By the off chance that you are not satisfied with your Jungle burger, think twice about writing a bad review. Judging from the owner’s replies on Tripadvisor reviews he doesn’t tolerate any criticism, lol.
Some name this restaurant as the best in Cambodia. I beg to differ, since I had several better meals in Phnom Penh. Still, Damnak Lounge is a force to be reckoned with as the dishes are of the highest quality and certainly creative. The cuisine is definitely French, but with the use of Cambodian ingredients.
This might very well be the most expensive restaurant in Siem Reap, so enjoy your wonderful dinner, but bring money, lot’s of money.
Being on the tourist and the banana pancake trail it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Siem Reap has many trendy cafes and hipster bakeries/coffee shops. Lot’s of yogurt, muesli/granola, super-foods and vegetarian/vegan friendly options. Of course, most of these eateries also respond to the eco trend of bio degradable take away wrappings and bamboo straws. Love it!
Lovely cafe that started out as a social enterprise supporting students to train on the job. The menu boasts many vegan friendly options and they claim to serve organic dishes that are as chemical free as possible. Prices at Sister Srey are high, but honestly, the food is great and the atmosphere even better. Try the potato hash, pancakes, lentil burger or avocado toast.
Interesting, intimate little cafe serving good coffee and food. Lot’s of vegetarian and vegan options. Prices at the Hive are ok, just a bit higher than the usual. Try the falafel, the chicken sandwich or one of the salads.
Vibe is a 100% vegan cafe and extremely popular with travelers. In their own words, “highly nutritious vegan dishes made up of consciously sourced ingredients, presented in a clean and creative way”. I couldn’t agree more. The menu features, among others, acai bowls, gluten free pancakes, egg-less omelets, raw zucchini pasta, veggie burgers and local kombucha. Beware: all this quality comes with a price.
The Little Red Fox
We only had breakfast here, just your normal eggs and bacon, which was not bad at all. However, I stayed for the coffee, arguably the best in town!
Temple Coffee n Bakery
Such a cool place to hang out for breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-dinner. Ok, so maybe I am a little biased as we stayed right next door so visiting here was oh so convenient. The atmosphere is great though, with high quality food, even if the menu is somewhat limited. The rooftop bar often hosts a dj for after dinner lounging.
A bit of everything – Where to eat in Siem Reap
I describe this category as “a bit of everything” since I feel that the qualification “fusion cooking” has kind of an old fashioned, not to say corny ring to it. Also, I use this description to categorize eateries that feature a Western as well as a Cambodian/Asian menu without necessarily combining the dishes in one plate. Actually, the latter type of restaurants form the majority in Siem Reap.
A nice, secluded garden setting and ok food. Marum is part of “TREE Alliance”, a social enterprise whereby all profits are invested in the disadvantaged students that train there. An excellent initiative, but as the students are still training there’s always a chance of the occasional mishap. Fortunately, these mishaps are rare so don’t let it bother you.
New Leaf Eatery
In the center of town, near Pub Street is this wonderful eatery serving a mix of Khmer and Western dishes. Steak sandwich and burgers next to beef lok lak and fish amok. Definitely a higher standard than the usual restaurants around Pub Street, which aren’t bad themselves, so that should tell you something. Starters are around $3 and mains around $6 so you’re ok in that department as well. They also serve creative cocktails, several Cambodian coffees and breakfast.
Cuisine Wat Damnak
Fine dining in Siem Reap at this famous restaurant that combines French and Cambodian cuisine. Choice is either a 5-course ($29) or a 6-course menu ($34), which is pretty darn expensive for Siem Reap standards. If you’re an avid foodie, you should still dine here. It won’t get any better than this.
Another restaurant with the purpose to train underprivileged Khmer youngsters and emphasis on sustainable sourcing of ingredients. The staff is so bubbly and welcoming, we enjoyed our night out tremendously. The food is a mix of Western and local, although the latter is slightly adapted to the Western palate. Prices are not cheap, but still ok. Starter $4.50-$5, Main $5.75-$8. I do recommend.
Urban Tree Hut
Urban Tree Hut is definitely one of the better restaurants in Siem Reap. Both Western and Asian options, executed to perfection by the competent kitchen staff. The restaurant has a wonderful garden setting with special swing chairs that makes one really relaxed. Prices are reasonable for a restaurant of this level. Starters $1,50-$4, main $4-$8.
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Are there any restaurants in the above list that you want to give a try? Or maybe you have more tips on where to eat in Siem Reap? Let us know in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you.