Dining options in Kratie are fairly limited, with most restaurants forming part of a guesthouse or hotel. The riverfront, however, comes alive every evening with dozens of food stalls offering baguettes, rice and noodle dishes, along with the obligatory fried marine life and meat-on-a-stick variations.
Local specialities include char kroeung beef and smoked Mekong fish salad, which can be washed down with a cooling bottle of Angkor beer. The central Psar stocks the usual array of Cambodian market fare, with early mornings the best time to catch fresh-baked bread and bobor (rice porridge) for under a dollar.
Of the guesthouse restaurants, Heng Heng, Star and Balcony have the most extensive menus and are traveller favourites.
The former boasts a wonderful range of Khmer and Chinese traditional dishes, while the latter has the most picturesque setting in town, with sweeping views over the Mekong.
There are just three other notable restaurants in Kratie – Red Sun Falling and Mlop Duong – both of which draw large local and transient drinking crowds with nightly music and entertainment, and one unnamed Khmer establishment offering the best local meals.
Recommended Kratie restaurants and bars
Red Sun Falling: The only downtown restaurant that is not part of a hotel or guesthouse, with owner Joe’s past life as a bookshop manager resulting in an eclectic library for customers, in addition to delicious daily specials. Chicago native Joe usually whips up a dessert of the day and an evening special, which are often accompanied by one of his many entertaining stories. The preferred choice of Kratie’s dozen or so expats, the place doubles as a popular late night bar.
Mlop Duong: Outside of town so not as popular with travellers, unless they have journeyed down from Laos and been drawn in by the always lively atmosphere. A truly Khmer restaurant and cultural showcase, with delicious meals and a local band which nightly gets the crowd on its feet for a session ofrom vong – something vaguely resembling Cambodian line dancing.
Guesthouse restaurants in Kratie
Heng Heng Hotel Restaurant: A large and comprehensive menu sees the restaurant consistently packed with Khmer diners – always a good sign. Offering tasty local and Chinese dishes at bargain prices, the restaurant also has a basic western breakfast (omelette, fruit and bread) for just US$1.
Balcony Guesthouse Restaurant: Quickly establishing itself as the place to go for decent western food, Balcony’s range of pasta dishes, fresh breads and homemade sauces has won a loyal following. The second-floor balcony which lends the guesthouse its name has one of the most atmospheric vistas in the region.
Star Guesthouse Restaurant: Offering an enormous menu which includes a staggering 400 sandwich combinations, unique shakes and juice combinations and fresh daily homemade desserts, Star also organises packed lunches for day trips. A popular hangout in the afternoons, where travellers seem to gather to down ice-cold pints and swap stories.