As you’ve probably been able to surmise based on its reputation, dining on Phuket can pretty much be whatever you want it to be. Say, for example, you’re a traveler who loathes local dishes and constantly craves the overpriced cooking found at beach resorts, international restaurants and luxury hotels; unfortunately for the rest of us, there are plenty of options for you here. If, on the other hand, you appreciate the value of inexpensive Thai cooking and succulent, locally prepared seafood (it’s an island, after all), you definitely won’t go wanting either. Suffice to say, your experience will vary greatly depending on both the town and the dining venue you choose, so it’s not a bad idea to get your culinary bearings straight.
Phuket Town is ideal for those looking for a true taste of the Thai islands. Far from a tourist hot-spot, while there are a handful of upscale eateries and trendy coffee shops/cafes here the majority of “dining out” takes place at food stalls or sparsely decorated restaurants using plastic dinnerware. Don’t worry, the taste and price more than make up for the lack of frills. Market-strewn Ranong Road should provide all the authenticity your stomach desires, while Old Town, the city center and the canal offer a wide variety of establishments from cheap to (relatively) pricey.
For those looking to turn a meal into a night out, you’ll most likely want to head towards the west coast of the island. There is a profusion of expensive restaurants here catered towards those who either don’t care or don’t know any better, but discerning palates can still find good grub for relatively cheap prices. Believe it or not, daytime on Bangla Road’s food alley in Patong has plenty of tasty, uncrowded options available - provided you get there before the drunken hordes arrive. South of the family friendly mid- and upper- range restaurants of Karon Beach you’ll find that Kata Beach offers some lively beer bars and eateries, but you’ll have to look behind the Club Med to find them. It never hurts to keep in mind that, wherever you’re eating in Phuket or most of Asia in general, if the locals outnumber the travelers you’ve chosen your food wisely. That may be a tall order here, but it’s definitely doable.