Restaurants in Phuket are as likely to serve burgers as they are spicy curries, thanks to the nearly equal measure of European and Asian tourists who come here. That diversity also yields a panoply of international restaurants serving everything from Mexican to French, with varying results. You'd be remiss if you stuck to familiar fare in Phuket, however: Thai cuisine, which balances such flavors as fragrant lemongrass and tangy lime against pungent ginger and fiery chiles, is among the freshest and most subtle in the world.
Southern Thai curries are creamier than their northern counterparts, with coconut milk and touches of Malaysian flavors like cumin and anise. Fish plays a starring role, whether fried whole with sweet-and-sour chile sauce, stir-fried with noodles, or added to soups. For dessert, be sure to try the fried sweet bread, roti, topped with sweetened condensed milk or chocolate and bananas. Bigger restaurants tend to dumb down the spices for farang (foreigners). This isn't always a bad thingfew Western palates can stand up to the firestorm of a true Thai-style curry. In smaller, family-run restaurants, you can ask for your food "mai ped" for "not spicy" or "ped nit noi" for "a little spicy." Or you can stick to milder dishes like pad thai and fried rice (which many Thai eat for breakfast). The best way to explore the cuisine is to visit the night markets, where a mere $5 will buy you several dishes along with cold Singha beers to wash them down.