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Indian delight at Karaikudi | © DigitalMammoth / Shutterstock
Indian delight at Karaikudi | © DigitalMammoth / Shutterstock

The 10 Best Restaurants in George Town, Penang

Picture of Michelle Leong
Updated: 27 January 2018
Street food may be fabulous in Penang, but you don’t want to take your business clients or mother-in-law to a local food court and sit next to a longkang just to slurp up laksa. Here’s where you do want to take your guests instead.
Zen Xin

When vegetarian cuisine is this good, who needs meat? Located at the heart of the newly revived Nagore Square, this little gem is furnished with Chinese-style door frames with floral motifs, round marble-topped tables, and sturdy wooden chairs — the better for you to feast with.

My personal favorites are the Kung Pao Aubergine and the Taiwanese Monkey Head Mushrooms. If you come to Penang without trying this — sorry, I cannot friend you.

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Kung Pao Aubergine | © gnohz / Shutterstock

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Tue - Sun :
11:00 am - 2:30 pm 5:15 pm - 9:30 pm
Budget
$$
Mews Cafe

Okay, Penangites, you’ve got to hand it to the travelers and expats — they know where to eat. And Mews Cafe is proof.

This café features innovative Nyonya-fusion cuisine that will knock your pants right off (or at least stretch them around your belly). Ever heard of Otak-Otak with crispy prawn crackers? Well, you will – just try the Amok.

If you’re in for a meal, try the duck leg too — it’s crispy and tender, which is a culinary triumph rarely achieved.

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© Mews Cafe

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon - Sun :
8:00 am - 10:00 pm
Budget
$$
Karaikudi

Indian food may be good, but Malaysian-Indian is even better. Named after the largest city in Sivaganga, India, this restaurant is fiercely proud of its naan (fluffy and warm), vegetable samosas, and paneer dishes.

For dessert, there’s Carrot Halwa, Pazha Payasam, and Gulab Jamun. Sugar rush should be expected.

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Indian delight at Karaikudi | © DigitalMammoth / Shutterstock

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon - Sun :
11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Budget
$
Il Bacaro

The best Italian restaurant in town, Il Bacaro is where everyone goes for their Mediterranean fix. Fresh pastas are a specialty (they make their own gnocchi), served in generous portions and usually topped with parsley and cheese.

We recommend the Linguine Crab, a scrumptious little affair with chunks of crab meat and cherry tomatoes tossed in Aglio Olio style — it’s probably the best Italian linguine this side of Malaysia.

Oh, and if you have a birthday coming up, they do a little song for you too — just order dessert.

Il Bacaro Restaurant

© Il Bacaro

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon - Sun :
8:00 am - 11:00 pm
Budget
$$
Kebaya Restaurant

This fancy restaurant with thick drapery, pendant chandeliers, and colorful tiled floors hints at the high prices you’ll be paying for your meal. But if you’re willing to splurge, this Nyonya fine dining is the way to do it.

Start your meal with the Pai Tee, a shy platter of shredded vegetables and sweet prawns in crispy “cups,” before moving on to the Lor Ark (duck confit with spices) and the Crispy Nyonya Tempura (deep fried vegetables in delicate batter).

There are only two seatings a day — 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. — so you’ll need to make a booking in advance. Kebaya only features fixed-price menus, typically with 4-5 courses (with a slight variation for seasonal menus, e.g., Chinese New Year). Prices range upwards of RM$130 (US$33) per person.

KEBAYA Main Dining area

© Kebaya Restaurant

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon - Sun :
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Budget
$$$
Ferringhi Garden

Want to impress your new sweetheart? This dine-in-nature concept is taking Penang by storm. With a boisterous tangle of plants, rustic timber furnishings, and a running water feature throughout the alfresco seating area, this is where Penangites now visit for first dates, second dates, and Instagram posts.

Main dishes range upwards of RM$40 (US$10). Compared to the other restaurants on this list, it’s a little further from town, but reward comes in the form of seafood platters, great ambience, and the Batu Ferringhi bazaar nearby.

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Seafood platter at Ferringhi Garden © Ms Yeow PC

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon - Sun :
5:00 pm - 12:00 am
Budget
$$
Jawi House

This old shophouse on Armenian Street has been transformed anew — thanks to Chef Nurilkarim. Celebrating the Jawi Peranakans (indigenous Malays who married Indian, Arab, Turkish and Persian migrants) of the region, the restaurant’s star chef combines flowers, herbs, and spices to revive the fragrant cuisine of the community.

Of note: the Lemuni, a rice dish cooked with blue telang flowers and lemuni leaves. It’s the lemuni that gives the dish its greenish hue and herbal taste — you’ll want to plant some of these babies in your backyard.

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Wed - Mon :
11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Budget
$$
Black Kettle

A café, bakery, and restaurant, this French-fusion bistro offers a small but memorable selection of food. The Provencal Chicken features fresh, tangy ratatouille under pan-seared chicken, and the Pouisson En Papillote delivers steamed Tilapia cooked with white wine and Shoyu dressing.

Cake-lovers, you won’t regret the Flourless Orange. It’s citrusy without being too sharp, moist without being too wet, and sizable but not on your waist!

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© Black Kettle

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Sun - Thu :
10:00 am - 11:30 pm
Fri - Sat :
10:00 am - 12:30 am
Budget
$$
Lagenda House & Cafe

This innovative bistro preserves its local heritage by serving up side dishes in a congkak set (a traditional mancala game). Set in the busy, bustling Campbell Street, this newly renovated shophouse is now one of Penang’s most popular destinations for Malay cuisine.

The menu features the bestselling Prawn Lemak Pineapple, presented in a blue conical tower, and the fragrant Chicken Rendang served with homemade sambal (a spicy chili condiment) and egg salad.

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© Lagenda House & Cafe

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon - Sun :
11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Budget
$
Chok Dee Thai

If you’re craving authentic tomyam, only Chok Dee Thai will fix it from this side of the border. The Burma Road establishment has been here for years (since 2000), and its pungent tomyam and green curry dishes continue to delight locals.

For your money, order a Green Chicken Curry, a wonderful culinary triumph infused with basil and coconut cream, and the Tom Yam Seafood, spicy and tangy and served up in a hotpot. Top it up with white or fried rice, and your taste buds won’t crave anything else for another week.

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Tomyam Seafood at Chok Dee Thai | © Ms Ng CL

Address & Phone
Opening Hours
Mon - Sun :
11:00 am - 3:00 pm 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Budget
$$