Best restaurants in Bangkok
1. Supatra River House offers a very nice combination of Thai food and nice ambiance, It is situated along the far side of Chao Praya. Last time I was there they had 1/2 the restaurant blocked off for a party from the Thai Royal Family.
2. Lanna Thai (Face Bar) - Sukhumvit Soi 38 - This place is special. I take all of our out of town guests here. The food is very good but it's the ambiance that is truly special. http://www.facebars.com/bg/lannathai.asp It's worth the trip even just to have a drink or two at the bar. There is also an Indian restaurant in another building of the complex.
Originally, part of Jok's Kitchen's fame was that it was a one table restaurant, accommodating one party at a time. It was written up quite a bit and had much exposure on Thai TV.
Because of it's fame, Jok's has expanded to 4 tables, but reservations are still needed a month or more ahead.
My sister-in-law's husband was hospitalized after dining there. It wasn't bad food, just an allergic reaction to something he ate.
23 Trok Issaranuphap, Phlap Phla Chai Road
Telephone. : 02-221-4075; 02-623-3921
Near Wat Khanikaphon
Let me not forget TipTop at Patpong. Not street prices but not unreasonable by any means. When your ready to sit down to an airconditioned and comfortable Thai meal thats the place. They also have an Italian Menu though I havent tried it. When we saw several of the young Thai girls have shlepped their older male "companions" to the place, we knew we had something good. Dont worry, its not over run.
At the Siam Plaza, the choices are many. Go to the ground floor of the Plaza that the BTS connects to. You'll find the Food Hall which I can best describe as traditoinal street food from around Asia including Thailand. Also you'll find the Food court with alot of Franches with some Japanese and varies Asian food thrown in. I loved the gourmet market where the choices were many. All I can say is before you order take the time to look around becasue there's so many good choices.
Went to Patara on my one day layover in Bangkok before heading home. (They have locations internationally.) Decided to do another upscale place since the success at Taling Ping. Also, I had never really done a fusion place in Thailand. Menu was so appealing I ordered -- and this is scary -- five dishes and a dessert sampler platter. I could see and hear the staff giggling about it. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. I paid for it dearly with 2 hours sleep.
Really good meal overall, with a couple standouts: 1) the pomelo salad with cold smoked salmon was absolutely a fantastic combination; 2) the osso buco, in what seemed to be a gaeg hung lay topped with pork cracklings, was also terrific. Great service.
Taling Ping is a small chain with branches around Bangkok.
"Not Just a Good Food Guide: Bangkok" is a great resource for Bangkok dining.
The author recommends dishes along with the places.
This is often a good idea, especially with Thai eateries, often known for a particular dish.
The book can be found at most bookstores around Bangkok.
re: Curt the Soi Hound
I got the feeling the other two locations were more downscale. But I didn't look at them. Apparently they have a new place called Savoury, too, that sounds more upscale, though I didn't check it out. Regardless, this is the best meal I've had in Bangkok. It kicked Cabbages & Condoms ass -- a place that wasn't my first choice, but I gave my dining partner two options near my hotel. It was better than my food from Chote Chitr last year, too. Granted, I haven't exactly cut a wide path through Bangkok's restaurants, however. I've mostly stuck with hawker foods.
Got a new one for you: Taling Ping. Learned about from the Not Just Good Food Guide to Bangkok. Great place. Had somewhat exhausted the hawker options (plus I've been disappointed that three of my favorite places for hawker food last time seem to be no more) and wanted to get a broader selection of regional and traditional dishes. Thought about a place like Blue Elephant just to get the sort of upscale Thai experience we don't get in the US too often. Made the mistake of going to Indian food last night. Ugh. Nothing better than what I can get back home. And it wasn't that cheap.
But back to Taling Ping. Fabulous menu. I would pay $100 or more for it. It's bilingual with pictures, which helps, because there are so many dishes I wouldn't know. I wish they had a transliteration, not just translation, of the Thai. Nice modern setting with decent service. We got 5 dishes plus two desserts (a boatload of food) and it only cost us 1000 baht. One of the best midscale dining experiences I've had in a developing nation.
Recommendations: Green curry beef with roti, "creeping flower" salad, pandanus wrapped fried chicken, and banana fritters.
One of the best meals i had in bangkok on my last trip came from rw apple's nyt piece. it was chote chitr. pain the ass to find and few will know where it is. but it's worth the effort. banana blossom salad was excellent. that piece by apple was so much better than the recs you get from guidebooks. if you have an nyt account (i think it's free) you can search for it.
btw, a little OT but this book, thai hawker food, is a great resource. i picked it up at asia books:
Le Dalat is fine but why would you choose to eat Vietnamese food in Thailand unless you are a resident or there for an extended period of time. Le Dalat is nothing close to being as good as the food in Vietnam. There are so many fantastic local restaurants in Bangkok along with the amazing street food. No need to eat other types of cuisine while on a short visit.
I get your point, but wonder how you could presume so much. I visited Bangkok for 3 to 4 days at a time, 3 or 4 times a year for 5 years or so. That figures out to a possible 60 lunches and 60 dinners over 5 years. I was usually with a man who had an export agency office in Bangkok so he was there much more than I and we went to a lot more restaurants than that one. We often went to very local places with local business owners. I never did get to go to Vietnam, so I would only be concerned that LeDalat was a good representation of Vietnamese food, wherever it is located.
I used to travel to Bangkok on business regulalry, but haven't been for 5 years or so. One restaurant that I thought was exceptional was in an old residence-like building and had small dining areas in what were likely once rooms of the house. The food was Vietnamese and possibly French as well, but I vividly recall the vegetarian Vietnamese dishes as being exceptional.
Googling around I find one that could be the same one, so I thought I'd post and see if anyone here is familair with it. If it's the same place, I'd recommend it highly.
Le Dalat; 14 Sukhumvit Soi 23 (Embassy District)
Yes, Le Dalat is in an old house and the rooms are the dining areas. It is still good, though I think not as good as it once was.
There used to be two viet restaurants on that block of soi 23, but now i think the other one closed down. It wasn't as elegant as Le Dalat.
However, Le Dalat doesn't have many dishes that would qualify as specifically vegetarian, so maybe you are thinking of another place.
Just about to finish our last day in Bangkok and after studying this thread, and trying some of the places recommended i would like to thank everyone for their recommendations, they have been a great help, and I would especially want to thank Donald Feinstein for his recommendation of L'Opera.
The past few weeks we have been here in Bankok to try out different couisines and different places in the city, and have had many new experiences; many pleasant and a few not so pleasant. We tried to make it a point to go to a new place every evening for dinner, but after trying L'Opera (on Sukhumvit Soi 39, the soi across from Emporium, Phrompong BTS Station) we ended going back there 3-4 times during the past two weeks, and another 2-3 times to their winebar right next to it after having had dinner at other places. The food was excellent and I think we ended up trying half of the menu between the four of us, and all agree it was outstanding in every aspect. We also tried some "local style" seafood restaurants that were really good but the names were in Thai and my memory is unfortunately not that good.
All in all, our trip has been an outstanding culinary experience, and we all hope to come back here soon again.
this thread is becoming much too long, but had to give all of you a lauggh.
Last night we set off for Somboon.
We had heard about the taxi scams, but didn't expect to become part of the scenario.
We had the name and addess written in Thai.
We had the doorman at the hotel repeat it in thai to the driver.
We ended up at a place not far from the fish market.
The words Somboon in neon, and no neon the word - dee.
Had we not eaten at Somboon before, we would have gone in.
The taxi triver kept insisting that this was Somboon.
The doors were opened by restaurant people, and when we said that this is not Somboon one actually tried to grab my arm to pull me out of the cab.
We told the taxi to take us back to the Four Sesone immediately, and refused to get out.
Finally he did not drive us back to the hotel, but took us to Somboon.
There was a policeman standing at the entrance, so we gave the driver 50b a bit more than it actually should have cost.
The meter was at almost 200b at this point.
The policeman was not terribly interested, but told his to take the 50B and leave.
We had to chuckle, over our misadventure, as we devoured their delicious chili curried crab, abalone, and giant prawns.
cy'an another typo.
Cy'an was a fabulous meal.
Three amuse a cold soup with anchovy rasberry, and fruit like olive (forgot the name)
Carpaccio of wagu beef , and two perfect cod cakes.
I odered the artichoke aspagus salad.
The wedges of artichoke were paper thin almost transparant, and the asparagus was cylindrical.
I have no idea how they managed to get the smooth silky taste of the artichoke.
This was seved atop frisee lettuce, many hebs.
I detected basil, dill, possibly cilantro, or saw parsley and chives.
Some ground nuts.
This salad was perfect.
Hubbie had raw oysters, and said that they were vey good.
Mains, I had one of the best lamb tenderloin that I have ever tasted.
It was seved on a bed of crispy vegetables accompanied by baked squash.
My s.o. had the Wagu beef and I tasted it. Melt in the mouth.
Also creative sides.
Too full for desset, as we stupidly snacked at the Four Seasons club a couple of hours earlier.
The tasting menu with seven courses looked exceptional, but we knew that we couldn't manage it.
Pricey, but highly ecommended.
Only fault, the decor is minimalist and very cold.
We ate outdoors, but still not a cozy feeling.
Attentive staff, and we wee served promptly, geeted warmly, but neve approached again.
This is highly unusual as in a restaurant of this calibe someone usually comes over to the table to inquire as to how you enjoyed your meal.
Yes we did go to the right place.
Possibly it is best to go early when the chicken is fresh.
My chicken had obviously been re-fried, a couple of bites, so dry, I could have choked, and that was it!, and the garlic topping was greasy.
I do not recommend it at all.
You must be consistent to keep a good name.
On the other hand we went to cy'lan and had a spectacular meal this evening.
Expensive by Thai standards, but deserving of a michelin star..
I will do a review of what we ate.
Yes, Jay Kee is off Wireless, just behind Polo Rice soup.
We used to order out often from Jay Kee, but have had no luck for the past few years.
With so many other options, we have given up.
We included it simply because of its popularity with tourists.
This photo shows Polo Rice Soup, where you turn off Wireless to Jay Kee.
They do a great poo pad pong kari (curried crab), when they get a good deal on crab.
That's my scooter out front!
Is there more than one polo chicken?
We went to Polo chicken.
There was no galic dipping sauce, and the chicken was dry, and very ordinary.
The sign outside said Polo Fried chicken.
It was a bit of a dump, smaller than I expected, but that would have been fine if the chicken had been good.
Our worst meal and we are almost three weeks into our vacation.
Is this a scam similar to the fake Somboons?
Is this the place you visited?
It occupies a couple spots, a few doors apart, offering inside and outside dining.
"Jay Kee" is the actual name for "Polo Chicken".
They answer their phone "Jay Kee soi Polo."
Years ago, we often enjoyed their chicken.
The last couple years, IMO, they have taken a serious downhill.
They have mastered a technique where they can dry out chicken and still leave it a greasy mess.
Also, since they fry everything in the same grease, the chicken often has a fishy taste.
It's usually served with a couple chili sauces and fried garlic.
Sounds like you went to the wrong place. The real deal has a relatively nice, air conditioned area for you to sit. The fried chicken is served with sauce and fried garlic. I was there a few weeks ago and it was terrific (despite what Curt says). There was no taste of fish on my chicken. The place was absolutely packed with Thais (I was the only farang). I went there with some Thai friends who loved it as well. Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. It can be a bit difficult to find and I left the driving to my Thai friend. The location is near Wireless Road.
Just came back from a two day stopover in Bangkok. I visited Roti Mataba, Polo Fried Chicken, Foodland/Took Lae Dee and Khrua Rommai. Unfortunately I was only in BKK for two days as there were so many other restaurants that I wanted to try including Chote Chitre and Raan Jay Fai. Roti Mataba was simply excellent and I stopped in there for a late breakfast before a walking tour of the Banglampu area. The roti was perfectly done and I ended up putting in a second order. Polo Fried Chicken was stunning...the garlic dipping sauce is out of this world and the sticky rice was perfectly suited to soak up the goodness. Khrua Rommai was nice, I enjoyed the open air dining experience. The food was excellent, well spiced. I loved the smoky tasting Phad Phak Boong Pha Daeng (morning glory). If you are staying in the Sukhumvit area make sure to stop by the Foodland market for a tasty snack or late night meal at Took Lae Dee. This is a small food stand inside the market and it is so good, fast and cheap. Bangkok is just a fantastic city. Can't wait to go back.
Probably greedy owners trying for a NYE "premium".
Also, due to their popularity, there are many take offs on Seafood Market and Somboon Seafood.
Many drivers are rewarded for bringing in clientele.
You need to know the location of your restaurant of choice.
The reality is that we foreigners are often seen as little more than walking ATMs.
This is especially true around Silom, Sukhumvit and other foreign tourist enclaves.
Sometimes this means preferential treatment; sometimes it means being ripped off.
Somboon's popularity has made those looking for it the target of many scams.
Taxis are often paid to take fares to restaurants with similar names.
IMHO, the easiest Somboon to find is the Surawong Branch, C/O Surawong and Narithiwat Ratchanakarin.
It's about a half kilometer north of the Chong Nonsi Skytrain stop.
A taxi, straight up Narithiwat, will run 35 baht from the Skytrain.
The photo link, below, shows it's location relative to the skytrain.
At Somboon, I recommend the curried crab and the stir fried morning glory.
For a more "local" atmosphere, lower prices, and great food, Lek Seafood is also on the photo.
Lek Seafood: http://cheapeatsbangkok.com/images_le...
Well, I'm finally getting back to reporting on our meal at the Seafood Market. First of all, thank you so much for your suggestion and guidance. We would have never found the restaurant let alone known what to do when we got there without Chowhound! We arrived and bought Phuket lobster, large prawns and red snapper. We also got assorted veggies, bread and garlic, and fruit. Our waiter suggested grilled with butter for all of our seafood and we went with that. We were absolutely thrilled with the veggie stirfry, prawns, and lobster. However, about 20 minutes after we finished all that we realized we never got our snapper. We asked and were told it was on it's way. Well, at least an hour later it hadn't arrived and the waiters were avoiding our stares because they knew we were unhappy. We didn't understand - it would take 5 minutes to grill up a new fish, why wouldn't they just do it? Finally, after we just ate our fruit dessert and were about to give up on the snapper it arrived, with little apology. We were pretty cranky that this lovely meal was tarnished with such bad service. If we're ever in Bangkok with someone new we'd probably return since the food was great and the concept pretty fun but I'm still upset that the staff seemed to have no regard for us.
That is to bad about the service problem the last time I was there the service was amazing there was about five people watching our table and they were taking care of every detail.
Well it sounds like with out the service issue the rest of your meal was good. You should have talked to a manager I'm sure they would of had a different attitude then the waiter.
Anyways glad you had a good trip and any reports or tips you can post would be appreciated as I will be going to Thailand in April with the wife and two teenagers.
Thais avoid conflict/confrontation.
It is natural that the waiters would simply wait for your fish and avoid you during that time.
The whole idea of the place is that you select your choices.
They were waiting not just for a fish, but your chosen fish.
They typically won't pressure the cooks.
Cooks are important; waiters are waiters.
They will mention it, but not press it.
There is an issue of face.
They will avoid you if you seem upset.
It's just the way it is.
Mai pen rai.
Thank you for the recommendation - we will head to the Seafood Market soon! I'll post when we next get internet which might not be for a few days.
As far as the service, we assumed that's what was happening, that our servers were so eager to please and believed that we wanted such fast service. Thank you for the explanation to support our suspicions.
Bumping this up because we're in Bangkok now and I'm on the lookout for a place for our last dinner here tomorrow night. Perhaps Cabbage and Condoms it is. Any other thoughts? We'd be happy with somewhere casual and for locals as we've mostly ended up at expensive, Western oriented places so far.
We're staying at the Sukhothai and ate at Celedon our first night here. It was fine, but nothing great. Street food is certainly more tasty and we found the service pretty awkward - very rushed. Of course, we've felt rushed at every full service Thai restaurant. Anyone else experience that? As soon as we sit down somewhere they want our full drink and food order, and then stand over us as we pay the bill.
Also wanted to add for posterity that we ate at the Indian part of the Face Bar at Sukhumvit Soi 38 and it was quite good. Tonight we had sushi at the Japanese restaurant in the Banyon Tree and it was absolutely terrible. The service was horrible, sushi poor, etc. Perhaps we were asking for too much having sushi in Bangkok but we expected at least good service for a dinner that cost us almost $150.
We also went to a cooking class at BaiPai Cooking School based on recommendations here. It was fun and well organized although we could have done with less of the scripted banter.
(Excuse any incorrect spellings)
Sawadee Krup katebauer,
Well this one is a no brainer if you ask me. If you have not been to the Seafood Market which is located on Soi 22 Sukhumvit you have not had seafood.
This is one of the most unique places you can visit it is a very large place with the freshest food you will find anywhere.
When you arrive you walk into a modern clean restaurant with very good service.
The waiters will explain how this place works. Basically you get up and enter a Market area which has a seafood counter like in a grocery store that must be over a hundred feet long, their you will find as the sign outside states "If it swims we have it" it is unbelievable. They don't only have Lobsters but ten kinds of Lobster, everything is very fresh. They also have a meat counter, veggie area, bakery and wine shop. You pick what you want it is wrapped and goes in the grocery cart you then go through a checkout lane like a grocery store and get your total.
When you get back to your table the waiter will ask how you want each item prepared for instance this was my tables order.
One fresh Halibut - Deep fried like fish and chips
Large shrimp - Stir fried with veggies I picked out.
Lobster - Broiled with drawn butter.
It is all carted away and brought back to the table prepared just as requested.
It is not the cheapest eats you will find but if you don't hit it when in Bangkok you didn’t do Bangkok.
Also one of your comments about feeling rushed and the waiters standing over you waiting for payment.
Please do not feel that way because it is so far from the truth. That is just how they do it; it is what they perceive as excellent service. They want to get your drinks fast and not make you wait around at the end for any reason. The last thing they would do in Thailand is rush you so relax pay the bill when it comes and sit around as long as you want it really is just their custom.
If you go to the Seafood Market please post your thoughts,
didn't go on my last visit but always went at least once on every visit before that and it usually came out to about $20 a person, which is expensive by thai standards. Of course, this was with a large group. with fewer people it may be more expensive if you want try lots of things and also it depends on how expensive the seafood etc. you buy is.
yes, i agree that it's better to go in a group...i went in a group of 4...i think the bill was over 100 USD, but that might have included a bottle of whisky and lots of mixers (can't remember -- i wonder why? -- heh)...we also ordered many many dishes (a whole fish, scallops, oysters, veggies, etc)
it was a fun evening, and i'd recommend it, but not if it's going to come at the expense of other food experiences in Thailand...i liked it: but as Thailand meals go, it wouldn't even make my top 20...
I agree with you the seafood is excellent at the Seafood Market. I have been going there since way back, when they were located on the corner of Sukhumvit and Soi Asoke. Many years ago, they moved to Sukhumvit Soi 24 not Soi 22. There are other great features as well, they do NOT use MSG and have a broad selection of wines. On my last visit I found a bottle of 2007 Muscadet from the Loire, which paired beautifully with some of the seafood dishes.
I have not included them yet in my compilation of favorites, although I will be getting to them soon, when I finish Western cuisine in Bangkok and move on to the much larger Thai and seafood restaurant group - stay tuned: http://restaurantdiningcritiques.com
I have never been tired of, or ill, from eating off the street vendor carts, however if your craving 'sit down' -- try:
L'Opera. Italian. Someplace in Sukhumvit. Most Sukhumvit drivers know how to find it. Call ahead. Good food, good service, good wine list. Moderate prices. One of my favorites.
For Vietnamese I'd recommend Le Dalat Indochine on Soi 23 Sukhumvit. Good food and service located in an old house. Very charming and entertaining especially for a novice foody.
For a good old fashion American steak, it's hard to beat the New York Steak House located in the J.W. Marriott. About 4,000 baht for two. Had a wonderful pepper steak about a week ago. Excellent wine list.
My all time favorites, however, are the rural seafood restaurants where you cook your own food at the table. Best to know a local who likes to eat for directions. Sorry.
For a good place to obtain dining information from a local -- try Noriega's Bar on Soi 4. A refuge for expat's. Ask for Frank the owner. Definitely not a go go place. Jazz and blues at night. Also the main Hash House Harrier's hangout in Bangkok.
Happy eating in BKK. You'll understand why they call it the land of smiles.
A short cab ride from the Four Seasons is Celadon in the Sukhothai Hotel--one of the top rated Thai restaurants in Bangkok--luxurious and delicious. What would be a reasonable walk in a more temperate climate can be arduous in the steamy heat of Bangkok. There are many upscale restaurants on Soi Lang Suan, which you can access by a little alley behind the Four Seasons. The Bangkok Post has a website with many restaurant reviews.
We stay at Four Seasons, and indeed the Spice Market is very innovative, and the food excellent.
Our favourite restaurant by far was Somboom, the best abalone, and giant shrimp.
One of the best seafood restaurants we have ever eaten at in Asia.
I did review it last year, here, and gave more details.
I did get sick from street food, (just 24 hrs), but most don't.
We are returning in January, and were wondering if there are any other "nice" restaurants with great food in walking distance from the Four Seasons.
Would prefer Thai.
Any hidden gems?
We are also going to Saigon, and have read about a restaurant owner who took the best street vendors to his restaurant, and we will be going.
Is there anything similar other than the malls?
We did have lunch at Siam Square, and it was fun, but I would rather have table service in the evening.
Thanks in advance
SASA International House at Chulalongkorn University has great Thai food. Could be hard to find, though, and taxi drivers have a tough time finding it even with a map. If you want to try it along with a walk around the University, it's near the Sasin Business School.
I also frequent the MBK food court -- good and well-priced -- In the Mah Boon Krong shopping centre near the skytrain at National Stadium station.
Bukharah's restaurant is excellent, but a bit over-priced. Sukhumvit Road near Soi 7. I always go there, because it's handy to the skytrain -- Nana station. I used to go to Mrs. Balbir's, but it is really overpriced. Bukharah is better.
Try some of the stalls at the Suan Lum Night Market -- okay.
If you're craving Western food, check out O'Reilly's Irish Pub near the sky train which has reasonably good Irish stew. A little overpriced because it caters to farangs. Near the skytrain at Sala Daeng station. I thought it was better a few years ago, though.
I've been to Cabbages and Condoms but not for ages -- sounds as though it's still good.
Central Department Store on Sukhumvit has a really excellent food fair.
But I'd certainly welcome some recommendations of good restaurants (not street stalls) in Bangkok that are fairly near sky train stations.
I'm with Curt. I've never gotten sick from street food in Thailand, even outside the big cities.
Link below leads to 2 suggestions for kanom jeen, a delicious dish of rice noodles with your choice of curries, not often on Thai restaurant menus outside Thailand - one is a restaurant if you're more comfortable with that. Go to the 'Thailand' link in the sidebar.
My favorite non-stall place in thailand is called hemlock. I haven't been there since 1999, so it may have changed...but I hear it is still very good. It has great bannan flower salad and mango salad. Everything here is good and it's dirt cheap. About twice the price of a street stall...This was some of the best food of my life
it's on 56 thanon phra athit...02-282-7507
Time flies... the link to the kanom jeen story (or is it khanom jin?) is here: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatinga...
I ate this a lot in Southern Thailand. You get used to ground fish curry for breakfast after a while, although when the vendors saw my pale American skin they sometimes urged me to get the mild peanut sauce instead. ;-)
To all who have already posted, thanks. Could you help me out - I'll be in Bangkok next week for a day and will have time for exactly one meal!
The catch is that I will be wearing a suit while I'm there (it's a business meeting). So I'm not only looking for a great place, but somewhere that at least has napkins and a table.
Any recs for me will probably help us both - so thanks in advance!
re: Eric the Law Student
re: Curt the Soi Hound
Sorry if this is too late...
The meeting will be downtown, so I have to go into the city. Tissues, etc., for napkins are fine - I'm coming from Vietnam, where I live on and off, so I'm used to that kind of thing. I would just rather not have to sit on little plastic stools and spill on myself!
So all I'm really looking for is a "sit-down" restaurant. If you have some suggestions, I am all ears...
re: Eric the Law Student
On the south side of the Chitlom Skytrain stop is a little place called Amarin Foodhouse (Amarin Plaza).
The food is Thai/Chinese and pretty good.
It's popular with area businessmen.
If you like food courts, Central Chitlom has its "Food Loft", an upscale version of a Thai tradition.
The Emporium also has an interesting new food court, featuring restaurant fare, including such things as Tony Roma's ribs.
re: Eric the Law Student
I never got sick from eating street food every day for 9 days in Thailand, but that obviously doesn't work well in a suit.
The best dish we ate on our trip was a bannana blossom salad at the Sukothai hotel restaurant. If I remember correctly, it's in the embassy district which is near downtown. The restaurant is beautiful, surrounded by a water garden. The meal was by far our most expensive in Thailand, at $50 for two people, but we enjoyed it anyway. Things there may have changed, however, as our trip was in 2003.
As someone else mentioned, a massage at one of the temples near the palace is the perfect way to begin a day in Bangkok, especially if it's your first day after being on the plane for 20 hours. We went first thing in the morning, had the first pad thai of the day from a street vendor who was just setting up, and had our massage in the outside pavilion before the day's heat arrived. Meal + massage for two was perhaps $12.
Rarely will the "best" full service restaurants compare to many of the stalls and carts. Full menus mean they have to be all things to all people. Carts do the item that they do best.
Just because your food is cooked in a "proper" kitchen, out of sight, doesn't insure good sanitation. I walked by a fancy Silom eatery, with granite walls and smoked glass windows. In the adjacent alley, the cooks were doing the prep work!
I eat from Bangkok's carts and stalls, almost daily, and rarely become ill. Just keep to busy carts with cooks that follow some sanitation practices. I try for hot-off-the-grill/wok, and avoid vendors who touch the food with bare hands.
I was there too long ago to recommend specific restaurants, but I always recommend taking the day trip up the river to Ayuthaya that the Oriental Hotel puts together with a fantastic Thai & western buffet.
I never got sick from eating at night markets in Thailand.
Off topic, one of the great deals in the world is a massage at the massage school near the palace.