Who are we kidding? No matter where you are in Thailand, a stall, cart, or restaurant offering a solid and indefensibly delicious meal of Thai food is never far off. Unsurprisingly, Phuket is no different. The southern province has a way with local produce, seafood and spices that make it one of our favourite areas to eat. Between late-night bowls of streetside khao tom haeng (dry rice porridge) and ultra-refined dishes of hunka-meaty Phuket lobster with a sunset view, you’ve got a lot of ground to cover.
Blue Elephant (MICHELIN Plate)
The sister to Bangkok's flagship recreates the look with a colonial-style mansion, lush gardens and a century old Banyan tree outside the entrance. Interiors come with wicker furnishings, wood panelling and louver shutters. The menu is a roll-call of Thai classics, but also features rare Peranakan dishes, developed in conjunction with the Peranakan Association and Rajabhat University. Cookery classes with trips to the local market run every day.
Krua Bai Toey (MICHELIN Plate)
Don't be put off by the simple décor. It serves southern Thai cuisine with a seafood-weighted menu. Try fried prawns or squid with garlic and pepper or fish curry with coconut shoot. Meat lovers can opt for the delicious stir fried crispy pork with red chili paste. The menu is easy to navigate as specialities have the biggest pictures. Though the spicing can be toned down on request, we recommend trying its authentic taste. Expect to wait if the kitchen is busy.
La Sala (MICHELIN Plate)
Dine al fresco on the terrace next to a tranquil lagoon, or sit inside and watch the alchemy unfold in the open kitchen. The modern Thai-style dining room is drenched in sunlight during the day and atmospherically lit at night. The menu features all Thai classics, such as Tom Yum Kung and chicken green curry. But do ask about the daily specials as other less-known dishes are well worth trying. Warm and friendly service adds to the experience.
Nahmyaa (MICHELIN Plate)
Within the uber-stylish COMO Point Yamu Hotel is this modern restaurant, decorated in a bold, minimalistic style with murals of over-sized goldfish blending with polished concrete floors, glass pendant 'bubble' lamps and floor to ceiling windows. A set menu offers the best range and value, but from their à la carte don't miss the small plates like Kanom Bueang (spiced coconut wafers with braised duck) or La Tiang (crispy egg nets with shrimp).
Ruen Thai (MICHELIN Plate)
Here at the Dusit Thani hotel, the dishes use rare royal recipes and are authentically Thai, with quality produce and refined spices; highlights include beef sirloin with garlic and chilli, and Phuket lobster in red curry sauce. Set in a charming traditional Thai house, with views across the lagoon, the interiors are elegant, while an outdoor terrace offers relaxed dining. Traditional live music on the weekends adds to the experience.
Ta Khai (MICHELIN Plate)
Set in the grounds of the Rosewood Hotel, Ta Khai means 'fishing net', so expect seafood to be the focus of their menu. Dishes are flavoursome, with spicing a little toned down for Western tastes, while two set menus offer a variety of items to try. The setting is charming; ask for a table on the terrace. With onsite garden vegetables and fresh produce on display, the farm/sea to table feel is complete. Book a BBQ sala for something different.
Talung Thai (MICHELIN Plate)
Located inside the Paresa Resort, Talung Thai offers diners something special, with breathtaking views from its clifftop setting. Start your romantic night with a cocktail at sunset, before moving on to the terrace for a sumptuous meal, featuring both southern and central Thai cuisine. Try their 5-hour slow-braised pork belly and the famous yellow coconut crab curry with spices - both reflect true southern tastes. Come early to get the best seats.
Chomchan (Bib Gourmand)
Younger sister to Raya and One Chun restaurants, Chomchan has flourished with its own charming character and younger ambiance. Situated in a small white house with its leafy façade, the interior is a blend of modern Sino-Portuguese with antique decoration. Some dishes are shared with the other restaurants but do try the fried crab's spawn with chilli, pepper and garlic, steamed mince pork with salty egg and Thai paste with pork crackling.
Nai Mueang (MICHELIN Plate)
Old tin-mining memorabilia, record players, sewing machines and other nostalgic bric-a-brac give this shop a certain retro charm. The menu features authentic Thai recipes from the south, including fish organs in curry and crab curry with noodles. Seafood is the sure bet, guaranteed to be fresh, vibrant and big on flavour. The buffet lunch is a steal and cooking classes are conducted four days a week.
One Chun (Bib Gourmand)
Merging her fashion design background with a love of food, owner Khun Prang has created a big hearted dining experience with a distinct vintage feel. The 19th century building sets the scene, as do antiquities from bygone days scattered about, while the food is authentically Phuket, comprising family recipes from Grandma to Auntie over 3 generations. Do order their famous Mu Hong and Mu Kua Kluea (deep-fried pork shoulder with salt).
Black Ginger (MICHELIN Plate)
Set in a stunning traditional house from Thailand's North, Black Ginger offers diners a unique and beguiling experience, with more than a nod to the Ayudhaya period. Upon arrival, a raft carries guests across a smoky, blue-lit lagoon, straight to the cocktail bar for a welcoming drink. Meals in the main dining room are equally impressive, with Chef Piak bringing his 32 years of experience to a variety of Phuketian and Thai dishes.
Raya (Bib Gourmand)
No trip to Phuket would be complete without trying the local delicacies at Raya. Situated in a charming 130-year old house, the cooking is homely yet elegant, with high quality ingredients and attention to detail. Try the Moo Hong (slow-braised pork belly with pepper and garlic), and Gaeng Pu Bai Cha Plu (fresh crab meat in coconut milk). If you want to experience spicy southern flavours, order the yellow curry with fish and coconut shoots.
Ta Tuay (Bib Gourmand)
Located near Sarasin Bridge that links Phuket to the mainland, this friendly neighbourhood shop is made up of two corrugated iron-roofed houses set in a tropical garden with water features. On the menu, seafood and shellfish is heavily featured, such as crab, fish, cockles, squid, prawns and sand worms, all very fresh and perfectly cooked. Ask to see the catch of the day before ordering. The owner Maneeporn provides friendly, humble service.
The Charm (Bib Gourmand)
Growing up in his family's food business, young owner Buriphat has been passionate about southern Thai-Peranakan food since childhood, with dreams of elevating beloved recipes to new heights. Opening in 2018, The Charm succeeds with carefully selected ingredients skilfully cooked using traditional methods to extract and preserve original flavours. Try the Penang-style fish curry or the intense yet sophisticated shrimp paste with poached shrimp meat.
Tu Kab Khao (MICHELIN Plate)
Set in a grand Chino-Portuguese building, Tu Kab Khao is both elegant and atmospheric, with portraits of the Royal Family gracing its walls, along with one of the owner's mother, Khun Linchii, whose recipes inform the menu. Don't miss the subtly spiced fresh crab meat curry or the robust flavours of the slow-cooked pork. Sit in the front section for a homely feel, or the Portuguese-tiled rear room for privacy. Nightly live music adds to the mood.
Suay (Cherngtalay) (MICHELIN Plate)
The acronym of 'sassy, unique, authentic and yummy' may sound kitsch, but the airy and bright interior with its Portuguese-tiled floor is anything but. Owner-chef Tammasak, trained and brought up in Germany, skilfully updates Thai food with modern techniques and artsy presentations. Dishes, including the signature braised beef cheek in Massaman curry, are seasoned with bold but well-judged spicing. Try the set menus to sample the variety on offer.