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Travel Report: Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

where to eat and drink Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

June 2020. What an amazing journey it’s been these last few months interviewing the cafe and restaurant owners of Siem Reap. Hearing their unique backstories, eating their wonderful food, diving into South East Asia’s most underrated coffee scene. Now that our 12-article series is finally wrapped up, it’s time for us to roundup the best of the rest. Those other very cool cafes, restaurants and bars we’ve visited during our six-month adventure in Siem Reap.

Where to eat and drink Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

In over twenty years of global adventuring, I have yet to find a more impressive breakfast town than Siem Reap. Here you’ll find everything, from inventive baking and artisan coffee, to fresh fruit bowls and authentic western cooked breakfasts. Organic? Gluten-free? Ketogenic-friendly? Yes, Siem Reap caters to all.

Bayon Pastry School, Siem Reap.

Bayon Pastry School Siem Reap.

Bayon Pastry School, Siem Reap.

From those that have battled on, we can recommend the brilliant coffee shop at Bayon Pastry School. As part of the NGO Bayon School, sales of the food and drink made here goes straight towards training underprivileged local women in the art of baking and hospitality.

Best cafes and restaurants Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Bayon Pastry School sits in a peaceful garden in Taphul Village. Hence it’s a great place to grab some much-needed quiet time. For those wanting to improve their kitchen skills, the school also holds cooking classes!

Nadiya Hussein British chef.

Nadiya Hussein.

While certainly a modest little place at first glance, the cafe has actually played host to the British celebrity chef Nadiya Hussein! She came here in December 2018 as part of her Cambodian journey of self-discovery for the TV series Nadiya’s Asian Odyssey.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Where to eat and drink Siem Reap.

Bayon Pastry School, Siem Reap.

As you might expect, the coffee at Bayon Pastry School is great. However, we mostly remember this place for its outstanding, 10/10 lemon meringue pie.

The Hive Cafe.

The Hive Cafe Siem Reap.

The Hive Cafe, Siem Reap.

I’m also happy to give a solid thumbs up to The Hive, situated in trendy Kandal Village. With icy air-con, reliable wifi and a mostly local clientele that keeps to themselves, this is a great place for work, study and reading. Moreover, they have some impressive coffee options. I can vouch for the delicious Tumeric Chai Latte, a wondrous mix of cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom and ginger.

Where to eat and drink Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

The Hive’s food options tend to be a bit on the fancy side. We quite liked the Hiveos Rancheros, a Mexican creation featuring a pan-fried tortilla topped with egg, salsa, avocado, re-fried beans, sour cream and grated cheese. You know you want it.

Crane Cafe.

Crane Cafe Siem Reap.

Crane Cafe, Siem Reap.

Also in Kandal Village, Crane Cafe is one of Siem Reap’s trendiest eateries. Combining great coffee and home-cooked food with fashion and music, we have always enjoyed the vibe here.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Where to eat and drink Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

If you can, head up the wooden stepladder to Crane’s top floor sofa and log tables. It’s a wonderful spot to chill out, do some work and maybe sift through their cool t-shirts. In fact, every time I come here, I’m tempted to buy their shirt featuring The Smiths.

Best cafes Siem Reap.

Crane Cafe, Siem Reap.

Crane Cafe offers a wide variety of dishes. From our visits here, we’ve had their excellent omelettes and salads, not to mention a sublime wedge or two of cheesecake.

Footprint Cafe.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap

Footprint Cafe, Siem Reap.

For literature lovers, look no further than Footprint Cafe, with its towering bookcases bursting with English language titles. Impressively, owner Georgina Hemingway had over 8000 books shipped over from Cambridge, England. Thus, you definitely don’t have to worry about running out of titles anytime soon.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Furthermore, whatever you order at Footprint, 100% of the net profit goes back to local community projects. So you can grab that strawberry smoothie and Eggs Florentine with homemade hash browns safe in the knowledge that your money is going to a good place.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Footprint Cafe, Siem Reap.

In addition to great food, excellent coffee and fine work in the community, Footprint Cafe also has a large co-working space upstairs. For an agreed fee, freelancers and digital nomads have a quiet, air conditioned place to work. There’s also a sizeable meeting room and paintings for sale by local artists.

The Source Cafe.

Source Cafe Siem Reap.

Source Cafe, Siem Reap.

Back before COVID-19 screwed everything up, one of our favourite Siem Reap cafes was Brother Bong. When it suddenly announced its closure during the crisis, we were genuinely gutted. Happily, a couple of cafes subsequently stepped up to help ease the pain. One of these, the outstanding Krousar Cafe, we’ve already reviewed in an individual travel report. The other, is the excellent Source Cafe on Taphul Road.

Cool cafes and restaurants Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes &a Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Pleasingly, all the things we’d loved about Brother Bong are alive and kicking here at Source Cafe. Genuinely friendly service? Yup. Fresh, tasty, build your own breakfasts? Uh huh! Delicious coffee? Peaceful, cool interior? Wifi that works? Thrice yes.

Bang Bang Bakery.

Bang Bang Bakery Siem Reap.

Bang Bang Bakery, Siem Reap.

Also on Taphul Road, and actually just across the street from The Source Cafe, don’t miss the highly rated Bang Bang Bakery. We can’t pretend to be regulars here, but we have sampled their fantastic light, rye sourdough and divine carrot cake. Unwittingly, we also had their bagels at one of our favourite Siem Reap cafes, The Little Red Fox Espresso. 

The bakery’s name is a play on the Khmer word nombang, which means bread. Famed throughout Siem Reap for putting environmental matters at the heart of their business plan, owners Zita and Jana have created one of Cambodia’s most highly rated cafes. We definitely plan on making a few more visits here before we leave Siem Reap.

Peace Cafe.

Peace Cafe Siem Reap.

Peace Cafe, Siem Reap.

If you’re strictly veggie and love taking your meals al fresco, a visit to Peace Cafe may impress. Even in a city that specialises in beautiful jungle gardens, this one is particularly lovely. We came here after reading several strong reviews and, right enough, felt suitably wowed by the beauty of the place.

Cool cafes and restaurants in Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Unfortunately, our actual dining experience was… well… a bit meh. While we had no real complaints about our coffee, cookies and pancakes, we were less impressed with the red ant infestation around several tables. Easily forgiven from our perspective, had the staff not been so disinterested and miserable from start to finish.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

cool cafes & restaurants Siem Reap

Peace Cafe, Siem Reap.

If truth be told, there wasn’t so much as a smile on display between all four servers that afternoon. This was surprising, as the cafe is supposed to be all about community outreach. They have a charming fair-trade shop onsite and offer regular yoga, cooking and Khmer language classes in their community space upstairs. Maybe we just caught them on a bad day.

Paris Bakery.

Cool cafes & restaurants Siem Reap.

Paris Bakery, Siem Reap.

Siem Reap’s European expats find many home comforts from the excellent Paris Bakery. From quiches, pizzas, baguettes, pastries, cakes and a dizzying range of cheeses, rest assured whatever your order here it’ll be the real deal. We’ve had their lasagne several times and it never disappoints.

Paris Bakery Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Paris Bakery has stayed open throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Much to the delight of those Siem Reap expats who also opted to stay put. Located on Wat Bo Road, it’s also a nice place to sit and chill, either inside with the air con, or out in the little garden courtyard.

Jungle Burger.

Jungle Burger Siem Reap.

Jungle Burger, Siem Reap.

The topic of Siem Reap’s “best burger joint” is a hotly contested one, judging by the online debates I’ve witnessed. We can recommend the burgers at both the already reviewed Joe Bar Garage and Grill, as well as Ivy Guesthouse. That said, top prize goes to Jungle Burger, a lively sports bar on Street 26.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Where to eat and drink Siem Reap.

Siem Reap’s premier burger joint.

The burgers here are densely packed and juicy, with a variety of imaginative toppings. Our favourites? I’d say either the Mushroom & Creamy Black Pepper Sauce, or The Godfather Burger, with seasoned chicken breast, avocado, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, onions, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, garlic mayo and mustard. Equally impressive are owner Clayton’s homemade Kiwi style meat pies, already into their eight year as  Jungle Burger staple. They also do salads, spring rolls, subs and tacos.

Mamma Shop.

Mamma Shop Italian Restaurant Siem Reap.

Mamma Shop, Siem Reap.

Siem Reap is blessed with excellent Italian restaurants. Spoilt for choice, expat residents and tourists alike are often split on their loyalties. Many champion Fellini, famed for their handmade pastas. Others swear by Dolce Vita, hailed for the city’s best pizzas and Tiramisu. Our vote, by a whisker, goes to Mamma Shop in Kandal Village.

Mamma Shop Italian Restaurant Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Owner Simone Santolini comes from Bologna and it’s his hometown cuisine that he primarily offers at Mamma Shop. Simone says his success is down to a number of things, such as “simple ingredients” and “skilful Khmer chefs”. 

Not everything is straightforward though. The tomato sauce for his amazing salmon ravioli (pictured above) takes between four to five hours to cook. Apparently, he is always surprised by the reputation he has in Siem Reap and admits to often thinking “Maybe they’d never had Italian food before”.

Belmiro’s Pizzas & Subs.

Belmiro's Pizza and Subs Siem Reap.

Belmiro’s Pizzas & Subs, Siem Reap.

When it comes to takeaway pizza with a movie, we always go with Belmiro’s. They do authentic American style pizzas and everything is made to order. Go for a large, as we did on our first order, and you’ll see they ain’t messing around with the size! So far we’ve had their BBQ Chicken and Meat Lovers pizzas, both of which were top notch.

Elia Greek Kitchen.

Elia Greek Kitchen Siem Reap.

Elia Greek Kitchen, Siem Reap.

While you clearly won’t have an issue finding a decent pizza in Siem Reap, seeking out authentic Greek food is an altogether different proposition. Sitting top of a very short pile is Elia Greek Kitchen, a restaurant that has created “a small piece of Greece in the middle of Cambodia”.  As soon as you enter, it’s clear they’ve succeeded, with soft traditional music, wooden shutter windows and dramatic Aristotle quote art on the walls.

Elia Greek Kitchen.

Elia Greek Kitchen, Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes & Restaurants in Siem Reap.

Fear not though, Elia Greek Kitchen is not a case of style over substance. We’ve dined here on several occasions and always found the food flawless. From their creamy, layered Moussaka and crispy fries, to delicious tzatziki, tirokafteri, hummus, beetroot and eggplant dips with pita bread. One evening, totally unexpected, our waiter gifted us a complimentary duo of Chocolate Glory mousse!

Moloppor Cafe.

Moloppor Cafe Siem Reap.

Moloppor Cafe, Siem Reap.

I couldn’t write such an article without leaving out restaurants specialising in local Khmer flavours. Among our favourites are the already reviewed Ivy Guesthouse and Tevy’s Place. Another eatery well worth a mention is Moloppor Cafe, my venue of choice whenever I meet up with a Cambodian friend of mine.

Cool Cafes and restaurants in Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes and restaurants in Siem Reap.

I invariably end up ordering a ridiculous feast when I come here. From Cambodian staples like Beef Lok Lak and eggplant with minced beef, to their noodles, fried rice and stir fries, it’s all great. They also do fantastic fried Shanghai style dumplings.

Banlle Restaurant.

Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant Siem Reap.

Banlle Restaurant, Siem Reap.

Finally, a word on Banlle Restaurant, one of Siem Reap’s most unique places to dine in. This 100% vegetarian fusion restaurant sits on Street 26 in a small building in the middle of an incredibly beautiful and tranquil garden.

Banlle Restaurant Siem Reap.

Cool Cafes and restaurants in Siem Reap.

From our table, we had a prime views over Banlle’s pretty organic farm. On the day of our visit there was a lady tending to the various fruit, vegetables and spices grown onsite.

Cool cafes and restaurants in Siem Reap.

Banlle Restaurant, Siem Reap.

While we found the service a bit prickly, Banlle’s food was both tasty and easy on the wallet. We had an excellent soybean curd Banh Mi with fries and a creamy mushroom fettuccini, served with veggie meat balls. Even if you’re not that into veggie food, this place is well worth a try.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

Want to read more about Siem Reap’s excellent food and drink scene? Take a look at this 12-article guide on my most recommenced cafes and restaurants.

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.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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11 Comments

  • Anonymous

    As an Ex-pat who regularly dines at Peace Cafe, I have always experienced kindness and positivity from the staff. So I imagine you definitely went on a bad day.

    June 28, 2020 - 2:56 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      That’s encouraging to hear! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      June 28, 2020 - 2:58 pm Reply
  • Team Leisure

    A very concise guide to eateries in Siem Reap they should erect a statue in your honour.

    June 28, 2020 - 3:58 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks, I’d probably settle for a free cheeseburger.

      June 28, 2020 - 4:00 pm Reply
  • nationalparkswitht

    So much yumminess 😋

    June 28, 2020 - 7:54 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Great post! That coffee looks delicious!

    June 28, 2020 - 9:25 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Lyssy, this is a great coffee town!

      June 28, 2020 - 9:30 pm Reply
  • Memo

    It’s hard to believe that you take the time to snap a pic of your food before you eat. I gained 5 pounds just reading this post. Thank you for sharing your time in Siem Reap.

    June 28, 2020 - 10:45 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Memo, it’s both a bit sad and a relief to have put this series to bed. Onto the next project!

      June 28, 2020 - 11:07 pm Reply
  • Kally

    Lovely post!

    July 2, 2020 - 10:53 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Kally!

      July 2, 2020 - 10:53 pm Reply

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