Markets in Mukdahan
For cheap food and lots of character, our first suggestion is to spend some time at the night market located on Songnang Sathit Road. Every evening, the street gets closed off to traffic, and pedestrians make their way in and around stalls offering souvenirs, regular home goods, and a lot of great food. Decide on Lao, Vietnamese, Thai, and regional Isaan fare here; it truly is multicultural.
We tried the Lao style grilled fish, caught right in the nearby Mekong, along with an Isaan classic fish curry. Finish your meal with any of the dozens of fresh fruit offerings scattered throughout the market. If you’re in Mukdahan for several days, you’ll probably end up here more than once.
Street restaurants along the riverfront opposite the Indochine market are a great day spot for lunch. Noodle bowls come slightly more expensive than average (about THB50), but you also get the view over the mighty river. Not a bad deal, we would say! It was also a kind of adventure for us, when one day in October the storm came down to Muk while we were eating at one of these restaurants. The lunching crowd got up and held the poles of the restaurant tents for a while. After some 10 minutes the storm calmed down and everybody could proceed with the meals.
For some of the best traditional food in the area, stay along the Mekong, but head over to Bao Pradit, a large restaurant near the river with excellent dinner-side views. You’ll find a bit of Lao influence mixed with Thai classics here; a top choice on the menu is freshly caught Mekong fish. The servings are huge, the restaurant is huge, and not surprisingly, so is the flavour. Bao Pradit also has a small stage for live music; it’s one of our top choices for a fun evening out. (Si Bun Rueang)
Western and International Food
If you ask any of the locals where to get great Western food, Good Mook Traveller Cafe will likely come up more than once. This popular spot doesn’t look like too much from the outside, but offers an inviting and comfortable interior. You can order Thai food here as well, but if you have a craving for good Western style dishes, they have some decent offerings. A surprising spot on the menu goes to their grilled steak, but they also have tasty crepes and other desserts if you’re looking for something a little lighter.
Beyond the food, our favourite part about this place are their top-notch lattes and cappuccinos, which are good enough to rival boutique craft coffee shops throughout the world. (10, Song Nang Sathit Road)
Another magnet for travellers in search of Western food is Picking Cowboy. Ignore the funny name and come here for a classic pub scene complete with billiards, a full bar, and some hearty menu items. This place is open later than a lot of neighbouring restaurants and they frequently have live bands on scene. Unless you’re just looking for a spot to have a few drinks, make sure to order one of their famous burgers. You won’t be disappointed. (Si Bun Rueang)
Cafes and Coffee Houses
Outside of Good Mook, we found Like Coffee to have an inviting and work-friendly atmosphere. The winning factors for this shop are its close proximity to the river and the cheap tea and coffee offerings. That being said, if you don’t like strong coffee, consider going elsewhere or ordering yours sweetened, as they definitely serve a dark brew. (0/4, Samut Sakda Rak Road)
For something refreshing on a hot day, head over to Dara Corner Coffee. There are multiple locations, but the one closest to the centre of town seems to be the most convenient. You can order cafe regulars like lattes and cappuccinos, but our favourite thing on the menu is their frozen, blended coffee drinks - ice cold and perfect for escaping the Thai heat. Dara’s Corner has comfortable seating and more than enough of it. If you’re feeling hungry and need to break up your day of sightseeing, grab a pastry off their menu, too. (Pitak Panomket Road)