One of the nicest things to do on a Bangkok evening is to eat dinner at a riverside restaurant. The main Thai river, the Chao Praya, runs through Bangkok and on into the Gulf of Thailand. In Bangkok, the Chao Praya River is wide and full of river traffic, making it a wonderful place to eat dinner next to, as you watch the tour boats, ferry boats and barges coming down from China, as well as locals selling their wares or just taking the boat home from work. Bangkok has many beautiful riverside restaurants, serving both international and Thai cuisine, but these three restaurants offer the best riverside dining in the city.
The Deck by the River – My favorite restaurant in Bangkok is The Deck by the River. Usually just called The Deck by Thais, it’s part of an exclusive boutique hotel that’s located close to the Grand Palace, in the old historic section of Bangkok.
Down a small side street next to the Chao Praya, The Deck is in an old converted Thai wooden house, and is a must-do just to experience the beautiful building, as well as the stunning view across the river. The restaurant itself has two open-air wooden decks at the front of the house facing out to the Chao Praya River, (hence the restaurant’s name), where you can eat dinner while looking across at the ancient Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn), all beautifully lit up for the evening. Or, you can choose to eat inside in one of two air-conditioned dining areas, which are simply lovely.
The Deck serves a mix of Thai and Italian food and, as the menu is large, there’s something for every taste. Prices too are inexpensive, particularly for the food quality, with dinner for two and a couple of drinks possible for around 1,400 baht ($45), cheaper if you stick to mostly Thai food.
Don’t miss the the chicken satay, duck leg confit, spaghetti with seafood and the king crab in tamarind sauce. They also serve one of the best tom kha gai (chicken in coconut soup) in Bangkok. After dinner, you must climb up to the rooftop bar, where you can enjoy jazz music and sit looking out across the river full of fairylight-lit boats.
The Deck is at 36-38 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, on Rattanokosin Island in Bangkok.
La Grande Perle – A lovely restaurant in the River City complex, close to the famed Oriental Hotel, La Grande Perle offers stunning French cuisine in an art deco restaurant that’s chic, while at the same time quite low-key.
La Grande Perle offers both inside and outdoor seating, but book a table on the deck if you can as that’s part of the appeal of eating at La Grande Perle, as it really does offer riverside dining at its best – and it has such comfy sofa-chairs there too.
On the menu, don’t miss the pan-seared frogs’ legs with garlic butter, there’s an incredible seafood vol au vent just stuffed with fresh seafood, a too-die-for lobster salad and, for an entree, I always make everyone eat the crispy duck leg, as it’s spectacular.
Dessert too is pretty special, and La Grande Perle is famous for its chocolate profiteroles. Or, if like me you love creme brulee, they make a darn good one.
La Grande Perle is on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to riverside dining, but still affordable. Expect to pay around $60-80 for dinner for two, including drinks.
La Grande Perle is in the River City Complex , 23 Charoen Krung Soi 30, Bangkok
Brio@Bangkok Marriott – For something completely different you have to eat riverside at Brio. Brio is a low-key Italian restaurant or taverna that serves some of the tastiest pasta dishes and pizza in Bangkok, but right on the Chao Praya River. I love Brio, as it’s cozy and comfy, the staff is lovely and I adore their pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. Just the smell of them when I walk in makes my mouth drool.
The menu is enormous, so it’s difficult to make a choice. But try the Parma ham pizza (just so delicious with its fresh salad topping), their tasty risotto, the ravioli stuffed with rabbit, or the spaghetti and meatballs. For dessert, the tiramisu drenched with port is wonderful, and the hot chocolate cake is just about my favorite dessert in Bangkok.
Brio@Bangkok Marriott is also a fun place to go with friends, as it’s quite large, and you can watch the chefs cooking or rolling out dough through enormous glass windows while you wait, so you really feel like you’re part of the action.
Brio@Bangkok Marriott is at 257 Charoennakorn Road, Bangkok
La Grande Perle