Increased tourism has seen a host of pizzerias and contemporary Soho-style cafes spring up, mainly around Art Street and Sisowath Quay, while the long relationship with Gallic gastronomes means Phnom Penh has some of Asia’s best French dining.
Most of the better tourist spots are along the riverfront, where dozens of al-fresco hole-in-wall eateries, sit alongside chic air-conditioned restaurants and funky bars. The top-end restaurants, mainly at or around the luxury hotels, are almost entirely catered to Westerners, as are well beyond the budget of most locals.
French and European food in Phnom Penh
Topaz: One of Phnom Penh’s premier French restaurants, featuring an outstanding, if expensive, selection of mainly succulent meat dishes, fine desserts and possibly the city’s best service.
Atmosphere: A more relaxed but still fancy French experience can be found here, which is a favourite with tourists and expats. The menu is sheer quality and the wine list thorough.
Rega Hotel and Restaurant: An absolute bargain for French and Khmer food, this tiny hole-in-the-wall place serves up simple but delicious meals at a fraction of the prices of other fancy French restaurants. The Khmer workers are fluent in French but struggle with English.
La Croisette: Owned by local expat Tassilo Brinzer, the regular entertainment – everything from movies, theme nights and guest DJs – means there is always something happening.
Del Gusto: One of several eateries operated by The Boddhi Guesthouse group, the fare is welcome relief on any visit to Tuol Sleng. The food, mainly tapas and other Spanish items is itself worth the visit.
Pacharan: Operated by the same group who runs FCC, the tasty sangria and wide, but pricey, Spanish menu includes tasting specials. The coffee machine is magnificent.
Irina Russian Restaurant: One of Phnom Penh’s few remaining testaments to its former Soviet influence. Filling meals, delivery service and home-made vodkas make it a popular choice for travellers.
Western food in Phnom Penh
Kandal House: One of the riverfront’s stand-out Western restaurants, offering plenty of food for the homesick, with everything from pizzas with fresh parmesan to pork chops and mash.
The Shop: Reminiscent of a New York café, with counter service featuring quality light meals and snacks such as sandwiches, fresh bread and pastries and daily specials. It also operates its own Belgian chocolate shop two doors down.
Le Duo: A wood-fired pizza oven draws hungry travellers, if you can stomach the gaudy 80s surroundings. Attentive staff makes this Italian specialist a great place for Calzone and osso bucco.
K-West Brasserie: On the ground floor of the Amanjaya Hotel, this is the place to go to satisfy your steak urge. Prices are high (US$15-$30) but the thick-cut, juicy steaks are worth it. Free Wifi also available.
Cantina: One of the few Mexican establishments in Cambodia, Cantina draws locals and visitors hankering for tacos and enchiladas. Its prime locale on the riverfront, surrounded by cheap pizza joints, and lively atmosphere make it a standout.
Tamarind: A hugely popular Moroccan restaurant on the trendy Street 240, there is outdoor seating at the front and on the huge terrace complete with silk curtains and pillow seating. Sheesha pipes also provided along with good happy hour deals.
Saffron: A very stylish Middle Eastern restaurant that offers complimentary Hookah pipes and apple tobacco with all meals in addition to an extensive wine list.
Frog and Parrot: On the riverfront offering pub meals and a fantastic bubble and squeak. Great for people watching though you might share the front tables with a random collection of children selling books, beggars and wandering shoe shiners.
Riverside Bistro: The largest menu in the land, with over a thousand choices that range from Italian and German to Thai and Khmer. Situated on the riverfront inside a pretty pink colonial house, there is definitely something for everyone here, and a good choice for families.
For Khmer food and bakeries check out the Khmer cuisine and bakeries in Phnom Penh listings.