Off Highway 6 (Airport Highway)
Tel: 855 12 644 286
Though it's a bit hard for first-timers to find (down a quiet lane just beyond the Angkor Hotel, westbound on Highway 6), everything else about Renaud Fichet's relocated restaurant is an upgrade on his former in-town spot. There's a chic air-conditioned dining room as well as a candlelit garden terrace, although Fichet's bon vivant personality—and a clientele of longtime expats—tamps down any white-linen pretensions. But the biggest change is the kitchen, now that talented chef Pascal Schmit, formerly of La Résidence d' Angkor, is directing the show. The nicely plated Continental- and Asian-style fine-dining entrées include T-bone steak with Kampot green-pepper sauce, scallops and crabmeat in ginger-sesame sauce, and crocodile-tail curry. Save room for the crazy-sinful chocolate truffle.—Christopher Cox
Open daily 11 am until late.
The Passage, Psar Chas (Old Market)
Tel: 855 63 965 501
The Old Market area got even more of a groove on with the 2008 arrival of the loungelike Aha restaurant. Located on the ground floor of Hotel Be Angkor, it's an off-site venture operated by Hôtel de la Paix. The menu, created by Joannes Riviere, executive chef of Meric, bears a similar mix of Continental and Khmer fare, albeit in tapas-size portions (try the classic deep-fried potatoes with roasted-garlic aïoli or grilled beef with green-papaya pickles), with the addition of salads (prawn and pomelo with toasted coconut) and stir-fried plates ranging from eel with holy basil and chili to pork with braised ginger. The 60-seat dining room is air-conditioned—unusual for a nonhotel restaurant in Siem Reap—though the local expats prefer the limited seating on the shaded, pedestrian-only Passage.—Christopher Cox
Open daily 11:30 am until late.
13 Street 99
Tel: 855 23 362 991
Its name means "Thai village,'' and Arun Loythong's restaurant delivers down-home cooking with roots in her native Thailand's rural Surin province, which has a substantial ethnic Khmer minority. The very affordable menu (dinner for two with drinks runs about $20) mixes Thai classics like spicy satays and Panang curry with earthier Khmer dishes such as stir-fried minced pork with coconut milk, roasted peanuts, and prahok fish paste, or fish soup with tomatoes, pineapple, squash, lily root, and tamarind. The rustic, romantic setting—the veranda of a traditional raised, wooden house shaded by large mango trees and outfitted with low tables and floor pillows—primarily attracts expats and veteran travelers, especially since Baan Thai relocated in 2007 from the Boeung Keng Kang diplomatic quarter to a quiet residential street east of the Russian Market. —Christopher Cox
Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.
333 Sivutha Boulevard
Tel: 855 63 965 105
Formerly a Chinese restaurant, this lovely courtyard Khmer/French bistro serves some of the freshest fish in town. And Francophiles will enjoy the library of French books and newspapers. There are even computers, so after lunch or dinner you can e-mail snapshots to envious friends back home.
Wat Bo Street
Tel: 855 12 830 761
With low prices and outstanding food, this is the best Thai restaurant in town. The atmosphere is charming, and all of the dishesincluding the tom yum soup and yam wun senare perfectly prepared. But if you ask for spicy, be warned: Thai cooks know how to make things crazy spicy.
363 Sisowath Quay
Tel: 855 23 724 014
Opened in 1993 and originally a watering hole for journalists, diplomats, and aid workers during Cambodia's uneasy reconstruction, the Foreign Correspondents Club may be the city's most venerated and vibrant spot for dinner and a drink—or an expat party (Democrats Abroad celebrated Barack Obama's election on the third-floor terrace). There's a lot to like about the "F": It's housed in a French colonial building cooled by ceiling fans; geckos skitter along the walls of the open-air second floor; the unbeatable location overlooks the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers; and the menu is an upscale mix of Mediterranean (spinach-and-feta risotto), Asian (Chinese pork dumplings), and Khmer (lotus root salad with caramelized pork and smoked shrimp in a hot-and-sour dressing). Cocktails, such as the Angkor Sunset (vodka, rum, coconut rum, and pineapple juice), are half price and draft beers are $1 during the daily happy hour, 5 to 7 pm; teetotalers can face nightfall with passion fruit–honey smoothies. Outside awaits the city's largest, most persistent gaggle of tuk-tuk drivers, touts, and beggars.—Christopher Cox
Open daily 7 am to midnight.
Tel: 855 12 763 468
Mick Jagger's visit and a mention in The New York Times put this restaurant front and center on the international tourist map. Fortunately, the notoriety hasn't changed the place much. The only noticeable difference is that the backpackers who have been coming here since the early '90s have been joined by the well-heeled (which, come to think of it, is evident all over town). The kitchen serves up delicious local fare with a modern twist, such as Khmer chicken curry and chicken soup with lemongrass, lime, and mint.
9 Street 57
Tel: 855 23 993 163
Situated in the heart of "NGO Land,'' the Boeung Keng Kang neighborhood south of the Independence Monument, this efficient, casual eatery is a long-standing luncheon favorite of expat aid workers, diplomats, and middle-class Khmers. The decor, especially the Angkor-inspired pilasters and lintels, is slightly over-the-top, but hundreds of hanging plants and orchids impart a gardenlike feel to the shaded, open-air space. Western dishes are available, but try such Khmer favorites as loc lac—slices of beef stir-fried with oyster sauce and green peppercorns—or frog's legs stir-fried in a paste of lemongrass, galangal, and garlic.—Christopher Cox
Open daily 10 am to 10:30 pm.
Airport Road (Highway No. 6)
Tel: 855 16 909 607
This traditional raised wooden building, a half-century-old Khmer home converted by Frenchman Yves Polouet into a restaurant in 2001, is a bit incongruous amid the bland big-box hotels plaguing National Highway 6. Inside, the comfortable, unpretentious old-style decorlow-slung rattan chairs and Buddhist bric-a-braccomplements the teak exterior. The large menu's Thai and Khmer specialties, such as Penang curry beef and banana-flower salad, a tangy blend of grated banana buds, chicken, and fresh vegetables tossed with a peppery white-wine and fish sauce vinegar, have been slightly toned down for Western palates. Day-of reservations are suggested, as it's popular with groups lodging at nearby hotels.
Tel: 855 63 966 000
A foodie favorite since its 2005 opening, the Hotel de la Paix's fine-dining establishment marries Continental classics and Khmer creations developed by French-born executive chef Joannes Riviere. His open kitchen turns out French-style pepper steak, a tender Australian beef sirloin coated with crushed Cambodian black pepper, and grilled chicken with banana-bud salad. Mull over the menu with a Khmer martini (kaffir lime and lemongrass-infused vodka with dry vermouth). The highly seasonal Khmer table, with dishes such as dried snake and green mango salad or grilled prahok fish paste and crudités, is available à la carte or, for the more intrepid, as a seven-course prix fixe. Book a day or two ahead during the high season.
246 Wat Bo Street
Tel: 855 16 951 800
Located east of the Siem Reap River (near La Résidence d'Angkor) in a quieter, mostly residential section of town anchored by the venerated Wat Bo temple, this airy, candlelit restaurant turns out Khmer fusion cuisine. Khmer/French architect Lisa Ros's elegant, contemporary design employs raised decks, shade trees, and silk scrims to foster privacy in the 150-seat space. This way, you can enjoy your fragrant Khmer-style chicken, roasted with ginger, onion, morning glory, and Chinese basil, or the lake fish with ginger, spring onions, and local herbs without being disturbed by other diners (usually a mix of expats and small groups of travelers).