The best local Thai restaurants in Kata Beach are quite often those furthest away from the fine white sands that make the beach so popular with travellers. Something of a victim of its own success, most restaurants in Kata specialise in European cuisine while those that do offer Thai food often serve heavily westernised versions. 

    To find real local Thai cuisine, you have to search quite hard – and we did just that. Authentic Thai restaurants in Kata are generally very local, to the extent that almost none of the signs or menus are written in other languages besides Thai. Not only is the flavour undiluted by western preferences, but prices are also genuinely local.

    1

    Sugar & Spice

    Sugar & Spice Phuket specialises in classic Thai cuisine – it's essentially a typical market or roadside stand, but with a modern and comfortable setting. The restaurant is often busy with Thais and tourists looking to enjoy authentic meals made with high-quality local ingredients. Must-tries include the yellow curry and satay. Sugar & Spice Phuket also has 8 air-conditioned guestrooms just above its restaurant. 

    Location: 98/70 Kata Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8am to 10pm

    Phone: +66 (0)81 970 6503

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    2

    Red Onion Thai Restaurant

    Red Onion is an authentic Thai restaurant on Thaina Road, in the centre of Kata Town. You can enjoy fresh seafood, homemade curries, classic Thai dishes, served in pretty decent portions and at reasonable prices. Standouts include the deep-fried prawns with garlic and pepper, duck red curry, prawns with tamarind, and spring rolls. There's often a long line queue at Red Onion, particularly at dinnertime. 

    Location: 23-27 Taina Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 12pm to 10pm

    Phone: +66 (0)95 146 9693

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    3

    The Family Restaurant

    The Family Restaurant Kata is squeezed into a little triangular patch of land close to Khoktanod Road in Karon. This compact local venue is known for offering high-quality Thai cuisine and very friendly service. You can find 2 separate menus consisting of international and local dishes. Thai seafood is especially popular at The Family Restaurant Kata, such as ho mok talay (seafood with curry), red curry with fish, and shrimp pad Thai. 

    Location: 107 Khoktanod Road, Karon, Phuket 83100, Thailand

    Open: Sunday–Friday from 12.30pm to 11pm (closed on Saturdays)

    Phone: +66 (0)89 855 3207

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    4

    Kwong Shop Seafood

    Kwong Shop Seafood has been around for over 25 years – it's famous for serving excellent seafood at local prices. Its owner is nicknamed “Mr OK” because of his habit of coming around to check on diners and say “okay” repeatedly. You can play rounds of Connect Four while waiting for your meals to arrive. A must-try at Kwong Shop Seafood is the whole fish with red curry.

    Location: 67 Beach Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9am to midnight

    Phone: +66 (0)76 390 913

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    5

    Koi Restaurant

    Koi Restaurant Kata specialises in Thai seafood at very local prices. It is a very simple sort of place, with a mix of plastic and wooden chairs and a corrugated metal roof. The restaurant's signature dish is jackfish with southern Thai-style red curry, which costs around 100 baht. You can also find a drinks stand under the same roof, which offers young coconut, fresh fruit shakes, and Thai-style coffee and tea. 

    Location: 81/3 Patak Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

    Phone: +66 (0)76 330 311

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    6

    Vegetarian Restaurant

    The Vegetarian Restaurant in Kata serves exclusively meat-free meals, including the iconic Thai spicy soup – tom yam – without seafood. The menu is entirely in Thai, but there are pictures to help you out. The restaurant is fitted with a tiled floor, gingham tablecloths, and a few patches of greenery. The frontage is a vivid yellow – a colour generally associated with vegetarianism – so you can easily spot it when driving on Patak Road.

    Location: Patak Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 10am to 8pm

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    7

    Chai Thai Food

    While the menu at Chai Thai Food includes an extensive selection of European choices, crowds of locals and tourists often come here for its excellent Thai dishes. The crab with curry sauce is a particularly big seller at Chai Thai Food. You can recognise this restaurant by its burgundy colour scheme, which stretches from the floor tiles to the tablecloths. The service is very friendly as well.

    Location: 135 Khoktanod Road, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 12pm to 10pm

    Phone: +66 (0)87 626 5015

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    8

    Som Tam Yai Kit

    Som Tam Yai Kit is the first of many restaurants and bars along the hillside road leading south of Kata Noi. This little bamboo-and-thatch eatery draws many with its sunset views and excellent Thai dishes. Standouts include the fried rice with squid and, as the name suggests, som tam (green papaya salad). Because of its location, the outlook is restricted to southern vistas but for a warm welcome, it’s hard to beat Som Tam Yai Kit.

    Location: Kata-Sai Yuan Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

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    9

    Pha Mah Ree Restaurant

    Pha Mah Ree is such an authentically local restaurant that none of the signage is in English. The friendly staff only speak very basic English, which can make ordering quite a challenge. There are pictures of their dishes around the walls, which you can resort to pointing at those that catch your eye. A must-try is the seafood rice soup – it's also the only dish on the wall that's written in English. As this is a very local place, most dishes cost around 50 baht. 

    Location: Patak Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

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    10

    Khem Tui Restaurant

    Khem Tui is a super-local restaurant in Kata, where the signs are exclusively in Thai. It's quite a simple roadside place, with a small drinks stand serving Thai teas and coffees. The kitchen area and tables are clean, and the dishes are authentically Thai. While Khem Tui specialises in duck dishes, you can also find a whole pig’s leg (excellent for sharing) on the menu.

    Location: 6 Patak Road, Karon, Muang, Phuket 83100, Thailand

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    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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