Siem Reap

The vast majority of places to eat and drink are clustered near the centre of old Siem Reap, on and around the aptly named Bar Street. A plethora of choices await, and looking at the construction in this area a lot more places are on the way. Expect a very Western-orientated experience. If you want cheap Khmer food, head to the Old Market.

Cafes and bakeries

Blue Pumpkin remains arguably the best cafe/baking house in Siem Reap with a slick, air-con interior and fine food the day through. Anyone familiar with Bangkok with be struck by just how Bed Supperclubbish the place looks. Wireless internet is available. The acoustics upstairs are poor. Very white. 

Out Angkor way, the Angkor Cafe enjoys a choice location directly across the road from Angkor Wat. The outdoor seating area is filled with flowers and manicured shrubs. Food and drink are supplied by Blue Pumpkin and the sleek wooden ambience by Artisans d’Angkor.

Cafe Central is located in the old building diagonal from Central Market where Ivy Guesthouse once was. It’s a huge, upscale space with exposed brick and large, open windows. It opened in December 2008 and still seems unsure of whether it wants to be a cafe, restaurant or bar. We visited in the afternoon and saw lots of latte-sipping foreigners taking advantage of the free WiFi, with low house music playing in the background. A big Western menu includes pastas, sandwiches, salads and burgers. Cocktails are available too, and happy hour’s from 16:00 to 19:00. 

Angkor Cafe – Opposite Angkor Wat, Siem Reap. T: (012) 946 227. Open daily 08:00-18:00.
Blue Pumpkin – Near Old Market, Siem Reap. T: (012) 946 227. Open daily 06:00-22:00.
Cafe Central – Near Old Market, Siem Reap T: (017) 692 997 Open: 07:00-23:00.

International

Set in the centre of Bar Street, Kamasutra delivers very good Indian cuisine in a slick setting, at pretty high prices for the area. Service can be a bit on the snobby side, but the food is very good.

A block north of Kamasutra, Maharajah does equally good food, without the fancy setting — nor the fancy prices. FCC Angkor has a superb setting overlooking Siem Reap River, with a menu that will be familiar to any who eat at the more famous sister restaurant in Phnom Penh. Excellent service and a fine place to hang out. 

Red Piano is another Western-owned establishment with friendly staff delivering good Western and Khmer food. For pub grub try Molly Malone’s, while if you’re in the market for a barbecue, Villa Siem Reap has barbecues in their garden restaurant every Tuesday and Friday. 

El Camino Taqueri, on the southwest corner of The Passage near Linga Bar, serves satisfying Mexican and tasty margaritas. The imported ground beef is just the right spice, the taco shells are fresh and crunchy, and the fantastic guacamole satisfied a craving we’d maintained since arriving in Cambodia. The menu includes all the standard Mexican fare — tacos, chimichangas, fajitas, nachos — and nothing more, which we consider a sign that a restaurant knows what it does well. The house margaritas, at $2, are cheap and delicious. There’s an assortment of high-end tequilas too, as well as homemade lemonade and Sun Tea. From the stainless steel bar to the mosaic walls and the wrought-iron sombrero chandelier, it’s a bit too nice to feel authentic, though you can’t really expect that trait at a Mexican joint in Southeast Asia. Better than Viva nearby. 

True to its name, Le Bistrot de Paris is a complete replica of a Parisian bistro, from its mahogany bar right down to the red-and-white checked tablecloths and vintage French advertisements hanging on the walls. The Corsican owner lives upstairs and can be found hanging around the restaurant unless it’s afternoon siesta time. The food is authentic — virtually all imported. It’s heavy on meats, with foie gras, homemade pate, and sausage from Tolouse. Of course, browse a fine wine selection.

V&A Restaurant, a new entrant to the market-area restaurant scene, is pure vegetarian — meaning no chicken stock or fish served. It’s next door to Cafe Central and owned by the same people as Ivy Guesthouse II. It serves an array of Mediterranean-style dishes like couscous, potatoes and vegetable soups. It’s a cosy, small space with only six tables, straight-back chairs, and modern decor. The wine list is well-priced with an impressive assortment. When we visited (anonymously), we were given a complimentary appetiser of carrot chips with balsamic dressing. 

Samot Fine Wine &Cuisine fed us our best meal in Siem Reap. The prices are a bit higher than we like to pay (but at about $8 for an entree, still not exactly steep). We tried the snapper special, which was $5, fantastic, and came with a complimentary appetiser of smoked salmon on toast. The desserts sounded great too. The former chef from Sofitel Angkor opened the place in May 2008. It’s set down The Passage’s quiet extension, and feels a world away. Walls are painted baby blue, with seashell curtains on the patio, and a wine cellar in the rear. Wines start at $4 per glass. Recommended. 

El Camino Taqueri – The Passage, Siem Reap. T: (092) 207 842. Open daily 10:00-24:00. 
FCC Angkor – Pokambor Ave, Siem Reap. T: (063) 760 283.http://www.fcccambodia.com Open daily 07:00-late.
Le Bistrot de Paris – Near Old Market, Siem Reap T: (092) 964 790. Open daily 07:00-23:00.
Kamasutra – Bar St, Siem Reap. Open daily 11:00-late.
Maharajah – Block north of Bar St, Siem Reap. T: (092) 506 622. Open daily 11:00-late.
Red Piano – Bar St, Siem Reap. T:(063) 963 240.http://www.redpianocambodia.com/. Open daily 07:00-24:00.
Samot Cuisine &Wine – Passage Extension, Siem Reap. T: (092) 410 400, http://www.samot-restaurant.com/. Open daily 16:00-24:00.
V&A Restaurant – Next to Cafe Centrale. T: (012) 800 860. Open dinner only.

Khmer and Asian
Khmer Kitchen is one of the best spots in Siem Reap to really have a go at Khmer food in an accessible, English-speaking environment. Nearby neighbours includeAmok and Champey – in all three cases prices are a good deal more expensive than the offerings in the market, but the setting is far more pleasant – even if the beggars and postcard sellers can be persistent. For back to basic Khmer food, look no further than the Old Market – they’ve even got English menus, so you’ve got no excuse but to check it out.

For upmarket Khmer, look no further than Viroth’s over in Wat Bo. Fine Khmer cuisine in a well-serviced modern setting. Prices are moderate – consider it a splurge to sample some fine Khmer offerings.Away from the market, Cafe Indochine does Khmer and other Asian food in a great old house which unfortunately sites right on busy Sivatha Rd — food is good, though the place often packs out with tour groups.

One of the wackier places in town, the Dead Fish, does Thai and other Asian food, but their Thai swings between excellent and very ordinary, so choose with care. Walking over a crocodile pit to reach the bathroom has a certain novelty value. Another Thai place worth considering is Chilli Si Dang, on the east side of Siem Reap River in Wat Bo. 

A little out of town, on the Airport Road, Madame Butterfly offers Thai and Khmer cuisine toned down for a foreign palate. The ambience is seductive, but its popularity with tour groups and relatively high prices takes away some of the charm. Back in town, the Soup Dragon is known for its Vietnamese and Chinese food, and if you like playing with your food check out the beef or shrimp fondues. A mastery of chopstickmanship is required as you boil your meat in a vinegar hot-pot before wrapping it in a soft spring-roll pancake laced with coconut juice and green banana. Packed most evenings.

Amok – The Passage, behind Bar St, Siem Reap. T:(063) 965 407. Open daily 10:00-22:00.
Cafe Indochine – Sivatha Blvd, Siem Reap. T: (012) 804 952. Open daily 10:30-14:30 &17:00-23:00.
Champey – The Passage, behind Bar St, through to the Old Market, Siem Reap. T:(063) 964 713. Open daily 10:00-22:00.
Chilli Si Dang – Wat Bo, Siem Reap. Open daily 10:00-22:00.
Dead Fish – Sivatha Blvd, Siem Reap. T: (063) 963 060. Open daily 07:00-late.
Khmer Kitchen – The Passage, behind Bar St, Siem Reap. T:(063) 964 154. Open daily: 10:00-22:00.
Old Market – Siem Riep.
Madame Butterfly – Airport Rd, Siem Reap. T: (016) 909 607. Open daily 18:00-23:30.
The Soup Dragon – Near Old Market, Siem Reap. T: (063) 964 933. Open daily 06:00-late.

Viroth’s – 246 Wat Bo Street, Siem Reap. T: (012) 826 346, F: (063) 760 774. Open daily 11:00-23:00.

Bars

Certainly no shortage of bars when it comes to Siem Reap — it’s not called Bar St for nothing! Molly Malone’s is Siem Reap’s sole Irish pub and it’s a good one, with excellent food and drinks at not too expensive prices. If you’re content in a shopfront pretending to be a bar, you’ll be right at home on Bar St, with Temple BarAngkor What?Banana Leaf and Le Tigre de Papier among those to choose from. Angkor What? is one of the longest running bars on the strip, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best – there’s precious little to separate one from another.A block behind Bar St, on what’s referred to as “The Passage”, is Linga Bar – Siem Reap’s first gay bar. It’s a great spot, gay or not. 

Miss Wong, a swanky, crimson lounge hidden down a narrow alley one block south of the Passage, opened in mid-2008. Formal portraits of Chinese women hang on the walls, and golden Buddhist statues adorn dark wood and black leather booths and couches. Martinis are $2 until 22:00. Try the Indochine. It tastes like ginger with just a hint of sweet pineapple. There’s also decent pub grub there. For $2.50, you can have a pork sandwich, dim sum, or barbecue wontons. Gay-friendly. 

Silk Garden Bar &Restaurant, across the alley from Miss Wong, is another distinct new entrant to the nightlife scene. Between the pebble floors and the missing roof, it feels like a jungle hideout right in the heart of the city. The bar is made of bamboo, and there’s a thatched terrace for lounging and imbibing. Food is served and the buckwheat crepes seem to be the speciality. $3 cocktails and a DJ nightly.