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  • Le Bouchon (Bangkok; tel. 02234-9109): A truly precious gem among the rabble, this authentic French bistro is embedded in the thick of seamy Patpong. Fine French food and endless top-notch vintages are worth the intrepid voyage into the depths of this saucy soi.
  • Taling Pling (Bangkok; tel. 02236-4830): This rustic-styled lunch and supper spot gets filled to bursting at lunchtime with locals craving both its authentic Thai dishes and carb-packed Western desserts. Foreigners are mercifully provided with a photographic catalog of the Thai menu; just point and eat.
  • Crystal Jade (Bangkok; tel. 02129-4343): Don't be put off by its clean and sparkly department store location; this tiny Chinese eatery is part of a chain with a huge and loyal fan base. A hearty meal of xiao long bao (dumpling soup) or authentic steamy noodles costs a few dollars and is absolutely authentic.
  • Itsara (Hua Hin; tel. 03253-0574): Set in a 1920s-inspired seaside villa, this Thai and seafood restaurant is a local favorite that incessantly pulls in crowds who come to savor its simple but elegant locale and cuisine.
  • Betelnut (Ko Samui; tel. 07723-0222): This is the perfect place to end a day of sprawling on Samui's soft-sand beaches. Exciting fusion fare blends Thai, Japanese, French, and other influences into unique dishes that linger long on the palate.
  • Ka Jok See (Phuket Town; tel. 07621-7903): Eating at this unassuming restaurant is like visiting a friend with great culinary and social skills. First you choose your main course, which is served with a free starter and dessert, and then, after dinner, get ready to jive around the tables with staff and other customers.
  • Baan Rim Pa (Patong, Phuket; tel. 07634-0789): Sunset is the best time to enjoy authentic Thai dishes such as tom yum goong (hot and sour prawn soup) and yam tua plu (winged bean salad), when you can watch the Andaman Sea change color as you appreciate the excellent cuisine. A pianist serenades diners, and there's a cigar and wine bar to retire to after dinner.
  • Dream Café (Sukhothai; tel. 05561-2081): With a quiet courtyard out back and cool indoor seating, the Dream Café is reminiscent of an antiques store. It's also a fun find and a great place to relax after a day of temple touring.
  • Khaomao-Khaofang Restaurant (Mae Sot; tel. 05553-2483): This saucy spot boasts an organically inspired decor that's almost as much a reason to visit as the food. True, as the restaurant is out in the boonies on the Burmese border, the pseudo-posh design is out of sync with its surroundings. But the food is plain great and the atmosphere laid-back, if a bit surreal.
  • Le Grand Lanna (Chiang Mai; tel. 05388-8888): Le Grand Lanna is definitely the most romantic northern Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai. You'll feast in an old wooden stilt house amid ginger blooms and orchids, and dine on such fare as Burmese khao soi (noodle curry) and pomelo salad. Lunch and supper come with awesome views of the resort's lily pond, and, in the evening, you'll get the chance to see a delightful Lanna dance show.
  • The House (Chiang Mai; tel. 05341-9011): Only supper is served at this vintage villa at the edge of the Old City of Chiang Mai. In cool, candlelit surrounds, Danish expat Hans Christensen's carefully trained kitchen staff serves up dynamic Pacific Rim cuisine.
  • Fern Restaurant and Bar (Mae Hong Son; tel. 05361-1374): There's a touch of class about the antiques and potted-plant decor that makes this place the top choice near the Myanmar border. The menu is extensive, including tempting dishes such as fried Pai River fish with pepper and garlic. Food presentation is very attractive and service is extremely attentive, plus there's often live music in the bar out back.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.