Bangkok is a large metropolitan urban jungle of semi-organized chaos. When all you seem to be finding are overpriced and average restaurants, it can leave you unsure of whether the city really has anything exceptional to offer beyond the notorious green Thai curry and costly Pad Thai. However, Bangkok is full of secret treasures buried among the bedlam just waiting to be discovered; their adorable charm overpowered by commercialism and the backpacker-need to the quick and cheap. Here are some of the best restaurants in Bangkok that you may not have known about…

Play Yard by Studio Bar – Lad Phrao

Many tourists and backpackers passing through Bangkok often dare not venture past the western comforts of Khao San Road. However, to discover the buried treasures, one must prepare for an adventure. Lad Phrao is in the north of Bangkok and is home to the wonderfully retro throwback of a bar, ‘Play Yard by Studio Bar’.

Play Yard by Studio Bar (Lad Phrao MRT) is situated on Lad Phrao Soi 8, indicated merely by a small rainbow sign at the end of the road. The bar itself is a menagerie of nostalgic camaraderie. Packed wall to wall with 80’s toys, re-worked pallet furniture and oil drums, vintage TVs and hairdryers, retro bicycles, and an abnormally large collection of 60’s British music memorabilia, it is hard to know where to focus your attention.

Food is served to a soundtrack of both Thai and Western live music all night, every night, and is a colorful array of Thai food, which far supersedes the usual green curry or chicken fried rice. From the lemon spiced fish to the coconut soups, it’s hard to select something that isn’t entirely delicious. But be aware, the meals are extremely spicy unless asked for otherwise.

Despite the overwhelming Thai presence, English speakers are around to help.

The Nest – Sukhumvit

The Nest is a beautiful clandestine treasure in the heart of Bangkok’s pandemonium. Surprisingly tranquil, the restaurant is concealed by its very location atop Le Fenix Hotel on Sumkhumvit Soi 11. The open air eatery is sheltered by bamboo fencing and a canvas canopy for the outdoor vibe in all weather conditions. Along the winding paths of decadent pebbles, candles illuminate the way to the tables, which either take the form of bamboo low level supports, or circular beds with central platforms for dining. Live music plays throughout most evenings, switching between low level jazz music and popular chart ballads, giving a romantic feel to your meal.

The food is a mixture of well-known Thai dishes and Western meals, as the menu is tailored towards ex-pats and tourists. Despite being slightly more expensive than elsewhere in Bangkok, each dish is an explosion of taste, best complimented with a tipple from the wide ranging, hand selected wine menu. Don’t miss out on the calamari appetizer and the battered fish with hand-cut fries.

Lad-Ma-Proud – Phahon Yothin

Situated at the Lad Phrao/Phahon Yothin crossroad very close to Phahon Yothin MRT, Lad-Ma-Proud seems like an odd place to discover the tropical serenity often associated with island living. Nestled in a bed of sand, the tables and chairs are made of vintage white washed wood, and placed strategically among fairy-light lined trees. Adorned with shell chimes, surfboards and pebbled floors, with your back to the road, it’s hard to believe you’ll turn round to a jam-packed Bangkok traffic rather than an ocean. The beach-feel laid back live music which plays every night, drowns out any sounds of over-excited passing mayhem, allowing you to enjoy your meal in peace.

The menu is offered in both Thai and English and has an overwhelming plethora of Thai dishes to choose from. Ranging from spicy salads to sweet soups, the dishes cater to all tastes. All food can be the requested without spice, and expect a twist on all your well-known favorites as they appear in front of you as more extravagant, well presented versions of your expectations. It is worth having a taste of the exceptional lemon chicken.

Secret Garden – Sukhumvit

Secret Garden truly is a well-kept hidden gem in the center of Bangkok’s disarray. On the busy and overwhelming well-recognized Soi 31 lies a tiny slip road leading to this stunningly illusive coffee shop and café. The highly personable environment created by the informal setting gives space to peruse the imaginative and inspirational artwork aligning the walls or the diverse compilation of paperbacks offered in the subtly appealing book store situated at the rear. The beautifully abundant jungle-like garden, bountiful with exotic flowers is the perfect getaway for a tropical summer lunch.

The menu varies depending on the ingredients in store, making each dining experience a touch more exclusive. All vegetables used are organic and the meals range from Thai appetizers to indulgently packed sandwiches with homemade side dishes. Don’t forget to try the handmade smoothies and rich sweet iced lattes.