When every museum I wanted to visit in Bangkok was closed for the New Year holiday, I did the next best (or maybe even the better) thing: cafe hopping.
Bangkok has a thriving cafe culture. Hip architecture and design, great ambience for conversations, coffee from skilled baristas, delicious desserts and authentic Thai cuisine can be found across cafes in Bangkok.
Over the course of two days, I visited six cafes. This is my list of where to go, what to expect and what to eat at each cafe. I’ve also included an additional cafe and a few other spots to experience Bangkok in its cafe glory.
Day 1 Afternoon: The Commons
As a reference on my cafe hopping experience (so you don’t think I ate all this dessert by myself, which honestly I could’ve but I care about my health, a little), my brother, my younger cousin who’s been living in Bangkok for a year and her sister—my other cousin who doesn’t live in Bangkok—were all with me.
We started our cafe hopping at 11 am. Not quite lunch time, but too late for breakfast. The reasonable thing to eat at that time? Dessert. So we headed to The Commons, a hipster retail space consisting of four floors and lots of plants. It’s more of a conglomerate of many restaurants and cafes than a mall.
1. Brix Dessert Bar
On the third floor of The Commons were two cafes nestled in a corner—Brix Dessert Bar and Jona Waffle. The hardest decision wasn’t which one we were going to (because we were going to both), but which to go first.
Somehow we decided Brix and just for reference, in my opinion, it was the best cafe on this cafe hopping experience.
Design: Modern, but kind of vintage. Wood counter, chairs and tables bring out the vintage feel. Funky chandeliers and lighting contribute to the modern feel. Nice, serene view of tall trees through black framed windows. Situated at the corner of The Commons, so every seat has a window view.
What we ate: We ordered what seemed to be the popular items on the menu (the pictures were larger than the rest).
Banana Salted Butterscotch, a caramelized brioche toast, caramelized banana, whipped cream, salted butterscotch sauce with vanilla ice cream for THB 240.
Thai Tea Hotto Keiki, basically a souffle. Served with a scoop of Thai tea flavored ice cream, Thai tea sauce, strawberry pieces, blueberries, chocolate nibs and some sort of sweet crumble for THB 280.
The server came up to our table and started this little show of pouring. We had to tell them we didn’t order it, and they took it back. But I believe it’s one of their fruit cocktails.
Total: THB 572, including 10% service charge and 7% tax. About USD $16.
Thoughts: It was really pricey, especially on Thailand standards but great quality food. There is WiFi and staff speak a good amount of English, at least to understand when we were ordering. Brix set the tone for the day. I had high expectations from Bangkok’s cafes.
2. Jona Waffle
Neighbors with Brix Dessert Bar is Jona Waffle. At first, it seems like Jona Waffle is an outdoor gear shop (much to my brother’s delight), but there are simple wood tables and chairs along the window and wall.
Design: Not much character compared to Brix. Simple counter and small kitchen. They mainly serve waffles, which doesn’t really call for an extravagant kitchen.
What we ate: Tokyo Drift, a matcha waffle with a scoop of matcha ice cream, red bean, whipped cream and banana topped with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar and is one of Jona Waffle’s signature waffles for THB 220.
Total: THB 220, no service charge or tax. About USD $6.
Thoughts: Still kind of pricey for Thailand standards. Other than the signature waffles, you can build your own, or choose a savory waffle, or even a souffle like Brix except slightly cheaper (THB 190). Matcha ice cream was a little pasty, but am a fan of the no tax or service charge.
Day 1 Evening: EmQuartier
By now, it’s about 1:30 pm. We weren’t really hungry, but knew we should probably eat something other than dessert. After exploring more of The Commons, we took a taxi (about THB 70, USD $2) to EmQuartier, a luxury shopping mall with more cafes.
Roast, known as a place for brunch, has two locations. One is at The Commons and the other at EmQuartier.
It’s super popular. There was a wait list at The Commons and also at EmQuartier. We were willing to wait, as my cousin (who has been living in Bangkok) said the environment in EmQuartier is better than The Commons.
Design: Reminded me of a hipster farm-to-table concept restaurant. Wood chairs and tables, open kitchen, plaid napkins and menus that are more like magazines than standard cardboard. We had a prime seat in the corner.
What we ate:
Two servings of just ok Hand Cut Fries that came with ketchup for THB 240.
A little too oily but came with a delicious sauce, Fried Calamari for THB 240.
Lamb Ragu Gnocchi for THB 320, ordered by my brother.
Kind of tasted like a protein shake, Virgin Chocolate Shake for THB 160.
Total: THB 1130, including 10% service charge and 7% tax. About USD $32.
Thoughts: As someone who has access to the largest variety and some of the best food in the world in New York, food at Roast isn’t that great and is overpriced for Thai standards. I did love the ambience though. We stayed for almost two hours, deep in conversation. Also note water isn’t free.
The last cafe of the day. After walking into every luxury store in EmQuartier, we headed to the top floor to eat dinner at Audrey.
Design: This is the most beautiful cafe I’ve been to. It feels like being in a garden with fake plants all over, green walls and marble table tops.
What we ate: Audrey also had the biggest variety on a menu that I’ve ever seen in my life. There were way too many options from Thai, Japanese, Korean and ‘Western’ food to pages upon pages of coffee, desserts and drinks.
Fried rice with shredded chicken and salted egg for THB 140 that came with a bowl of soup.
Fried chicken and green curry for THB 190. We had to order a bowl of rice to go along with it for THB 20.
Also another dish, chicken with Biryani rice for THB 180, a bottle of water for THB 30 and a Special Gelato Shake for THB 165. As a comparison to Roast’s chocolate shake, this one tasted more like a chocolate shake than a protein powdered drink.
Total: THB 798, including 10% service charge and 7% tax. About USD $23.
Thoughts: Save yourself the trouble and don’t order Thai food. Frankly, none of it tasted good. The Biryani rice was so salty to the point that we just couldn’t eat it without adding more rice to offset the saltiness. You’re better off getting Thai food from the food court on the lower level of EmQuartier and order desserts from Audrey. It is very beautifully decorated, just not a good place for Thai food.
Day 2 Evening: Free Standing Cafe
On the first day, all the cafes we went to were in malls. So on the evening of the next day, to continue cafe hopping, we went to a free standing one.
5. After You Dessert Cafe
After You has over 15 locations around Bangkok. In the location we went to (close to The Commons), we had to wait for a table. And to order, we had to go to the counter but food and drinks were brought to the table.
Design: Kind of reminded me of a Starbucks minus that signature coffee smell. The menu is written on a chalkboard, tables and chairs are standard Ikea-esque.
What we ate:
A matcha frappe for THB 145, like a green tea frappe—another Starbucks similarity.
I really liked the taste of Thai tea from the Thai tea ice cream we had at Brix, so I ordered a Royal Thai Milk Tea for THB 95.
Chocolate banana pancake for THB 185.
Shibuya Honey Toast for THB 185 is what people go to After You for. I probably wouldn’t be exaggerating to say they used about half a stick of butter on this piece of toast with two scoops of ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.
Also, there’s complimentary cold tea available.
Total: THB 610, including 7% tax. About USD $17.
Thoughts: After You is worth visiting for a honey toast and an iced Thai tea. It is, like all cafes listed here, expensive for Thai standards.
Day 2 Later that Evening: Emporium
Right after After You, we went back to the EmQuartier shopping complex. Connected to the complex is another mall called Emporium. On the top floor of the mall is Paul, a French bakery.
Design: Dining at Paul feels like being in a historic European building. There’s giant paintings on the wall, black frame columns, pretty lighting and blue chairs.
What we ate:
Quiche Lorraine, a standard quiche for THB 290.
Chocolate tart, with dark, rich chocolate for THB 145.
Total: THB 478.50, including 10% service charge and 7% tax. About USD $14.
Thoughts: It was late and almost going to close, so we missed having a giant macaron, which is popular at Paul. I enjoyed the chocolate tart, which was necessary to share and also the decor.
Total = THB 3,808.50. About USD $108. This totals to around $27 per person for cafe hopping in six cafes around Bangkok. Not bad. We didn’t eat that much, but there’s no way I’d be able to enjoy as much as we did for that price back home in New York.
7. Hello Kitty House
The next day, we went to yet another shopping area, Siam Square One. There’s no shortage of cafes, but the one we had to see was Hello Kitty House. It’s basically three floors of Hello Kitty—a store for all things Hello Kitty, a beauty salon and cafe where all food (including Thailand’s traditional Pad Thai dish) has Hello Kitty incorporated into it.
Other than cafes, if you’re looking for luxurious places for dessert, check out these hotels for afternoon tea.
For a colorful, carefully crafted selection of savories and pastries with a view of the Chao Phraya river, check out afternoon tea at Shangri-La Bangkok’s Lobby Lounge. It’s about USD $34 for one set. Though expensive for Thai standards, it’s a steal for afternoon tea, which can go for upwards $55 back home.
Read my full review of afternoon tea at Shangri-La Bangkok here.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
My number one recommendation for desserts or an afternoon tea experience in Bangkok is at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. This iconic hotel serves a Thai and traditional afternoon tea at the beautiful garden-like Author’s Lounge.
Read my full review of afternoon tea at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok here.