Travel Report: Joe Bar Garage and Grill, Siem Reap.
Joe Bar Garage and Grill, Siem Reap.
April, 2020. I love it when you spontaneously take a chance on a restaurant and end up hitting the jackpot. Sladja and I were strolling down Salakamreuk Road one evening looking for dinner when we found ourselves drawn to a lit up beer garden across the road. Hm, Joe Bar. Let’s give it a whirl.
You can’t miss the place, especially with its row of motorbikes lined up like soldiers by the entrance gates. I know nothing about motorbikes. And yet, even in my cluelessness, I understood that these were some awesome machines.
Joe Bar Garage and Grill.
Joe Bar Garage and Grill is the brainchild of an industrious husband and wife, Chris and Jully. It was Jully who greeted us on that first night before bringing us a pair of icy draft beers.
And when I say icy, I’m not kidding around, because these are surely the coldest beers in Siem Reap. According to Chris, there’s no big secret to it, but rather a case of consistency.
“We freeze our glasses and make sure that when they come out we serve them as fast as possible”.
Moreover, it was at Joe Bar that Sladja had her first ever shandy. Not really a thing in Serbia it turns out. Actually, a Joe Bar shandy is just a Sprite mixed with a Cambodia draft. But damn it’s refreshing and has now become a favourite when we come to visit.
The food is really something too! At Joe Bar the menu offers up a little bit of everything and no matter what you try you’ll be in safe hands with Jully, a multi-talented cook with bags of experience.
She honed her skills at a young age growing up in a remote, rural village near Kampon Thom. Hence her Khmer dishes are top notch. I particularly recommend the Khmer Red Chicken Curry. Which has a Malay twist to it, as Jully spent eight years in Malaysia mastering Malay and Chinese cuisine.
Joe Bar Garage and Grill.
Rest assured the western dishes are just as good! Sladja and I always take one Khmer plate and a home staple when we visit. Usually, the bill is under $10, as mains come with a complimentary beer. This makes Joe Bar one of the best value dinner spots in Siem Reap!
Having also managed and owned an Irish bar in SR, Jully does a mean Irish Stew. We’ve had this a couple of times and it never disappoints. We’re also very fond of the Honey Sesame Chicken, their best-selling Asian dish. Oh, and the burgers!
“We are probably most proud of our burgers. They get the most feedback and we sell a lot”.
More often than not, there’s a motorcycle or two under observation during our visits to Joe Bar. This niche certainly gives them a competitive edge, with customers coming and going for servicing, repairs and sales enquiries. After all, once you’re bike’s ready, why not stay for a bite?
“I’ve been on two wheels since age 14, road bikes from 17 and raced 1000cc sports bikes age 24”
Chris handles the bike side of things. He grew up in the Scottish town of Falkirk and has a varied professional backstory. Having owned several small businesses, including a fire protection company, he came to Siem Reap for a slower pace of life.
This laid back vibe certainly permeates the garden at Joe Bar. Look out for Smoky the cat, who occasionally mooches around. Thus Sladja and I are delighted that Chris and Jully have managed to keep things going during these uncertain times of COVID-19.
The open-air garden means you can enjoy the fresh air and keep your distance from others. Furthermore, they also have a delivery service and regular promotions.
Want to get in touch with Joe Bar? Drop Chris and Jully a line through their Facebook page.
Like this? For more on Siem Reap’s excellent cafe, restaurant and bar scene, check out my detailed guide on Where to Eat and Drink Siem Reap.
You can also read my exhaustive overview of What to See and Do in Siem Reap.
Looking for a roof over your head? Check out my articles on Where to Stay in Siem Reap.
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