Koh Tao has developed a must-visit reputation as a scuba diving destination, and its sizable ex-pat community hails from all corners of the globe, bringing with it a huge variety of delicious cuisine to complement the well-established Thai favourites. Here’s our selection of the best from the unlikely culinary hotspot of Koh Tao.
This well-established local favourite has long been known for its incredible surf-and-turf options, but has recently stepped up its game to include a lot more vegetarian and vegan options to its quality menu, like vegan fish and chips, buffalo ‘wings’, and a vegan cheese plate. Omnivores treat yourself to the braised lamb shank or the signature Thai fusion barracuda fillet, or satisfy your craving for take-out style Chinese food like its Peking spare rib and chow mein. The restaurant has two locations, one just off the main walking street and the other at Darawan, a stunning venue with dramatic sunset views from its rooftop dining area.
Built from beachside bliss and repurposed bamboo, Coconut Monkey oozes with cosiness and character. Whether you’re in the mood for a coffee paired with a bite from its cooler of homemade treats, or a full, healthy meal, there are options to satisfy anyone. Go for the loaded divers’ wrap for breakfast packed with eggs, potatoes, and premium sausage or bacon with a selection of sauces, and don’t miss out on the freshly-made juices, smoothies, and kombucha. This spot also has one of the most vegan and vegetarian-friendly menus on Koh Tao.
This family-run restaurant is a well-kept secret by locals, offering up some of the best Thai food on the island. When entering the cosy, open-air restaurant you’ll be greeted by P.Oy herself, cooking away with her staff over huge woks simmering with various spices. Order the sticky chicken wings and fried spring rolls, but leave room to try her legendary Massaman curry.
This Thai restaurant and cooking school is set in a beautiful jungle cove shrouded by coconut trees just off the main area of Sairee. Her delicious, authentic curries are local favourites, while options like her KFC-style chicken burger or premium steak wraps cater to palates that need a break from Thai spice. Check out Idjang’s cooking school to learn how to make popular menu items.
Hearty breakfasts, nourishing salads, and awesome pizza and burgers are all available at SouthBeach Cafe, a dreamy little oasis just steps from the beach in the South of Koh Tao. Every menu item is packed with flavour from its BBQ pulled chicken burger to the spicy chorizo and zucchini pizza or the Paris ham and dill panini, and for vegans – this spot is one of the few on Koh Tao that has the option for vegan cheese and other non-dairy alternatives. SouthBeach also is one of the most eco-friendly restaurants on Koh Tao, eliminating nearly all plastic from its operation, including straws, plastic bags, and cutlery.
Newly opened, from its romantic setting and decadent menu crafted from its brand of modern global cuisine, Breeze quickly captured the appetites of locals and tourists alike with their seven spice-seared tuna and slow-roasted pork belly and mash. They’ve also got once of the most impressive mezze boards around, or spice your starter up with the Iman bayaldi, featuring Lebanese-style eggplant, grilled halloumi cheese, yogurt, crushed spiced almonds and pomegranate.
Thais aren’t the only ones who have mastered the art of the noodle. Asia Mood brings the island a huge offering of incredible dishes from a smattering of other regional cuisines, like authentic Japanese ramen, Korean soups and stir-frys, and some of the island’s best sushi. As an added bonus, swap out that Chang and Singha you’ve been drinking for some of their on-tap Asahi or Korean soju, or unwind with one of their matcha-based beverages.
This local joint defends the Spanish tradition of its name – with every cocktail ordered you get a choice of various tapas to ease into their generously-poured drinks and prepare your palate for the feast to come. The authentic paella is a perennial crowd-pleaser, along with the whole rotisserie chicken paired with potatoes and wine. The menu crosses borders again and again, delivering incredible Thai staples, creative fusion twists on Italian and Western favourites, and plenty of variety for those after healthier options.
This colourful veggie shack in the heart of the island is the stuff of vegan dreams. Its trademark salad, soba noodle, and rice bowls pack flavourful punches, and are surprisingly nourishing as well. Or cater to your comfort food side through their pan-fried quesadilla and daily freshly baked vegan cookies the size of your hand.
Forget fusion tacos, Thai-inspired spices, and flavours that don’t quite mesh – Koh Tao’s signature Cantina is owned and operated by a SoCal transplant, delivering authentic Tex-Mex-style staples to the island paradise. All sauces are made in-house, complementing the simple but customisable menu with standouts like their grade burrito packed with meat, veggies and cheese, fajita wraps, and house-made chips, salsa, queso, and guacamole. Tuesdays are for tacos and tequila – offering big discounts on tacos, frozen margaritas, and free chips and salsa.