It wouldn’t be a trip to the beach without a meal (or three) at a seafood restaurant. Perched as it is before the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya has fresh seafood in abundance. Here are the seafood restaurants that keep both the locals and tourists coming back for more.
Big Fish TOP PICK!
The best seafood buffet in Pattaya? We think so (and TripAdvisor agrees). Our sixth-floor eatery serves super-fresh seafood and other comforting fare in an underwater-inspired space popping with eclectic artworks, jellyfish lamps, a fish-tail bar and other photogenic features. Come for the nightly Seafood BBQ Buffet, featuring a bounty of New Zealand mussels, shellfish, freshwater lobster, shrimp and more; stay for the upbeat live music long into the night. It helps that our head chef, Niran, is an Iron Chef Thailand winner. Oh, and isn’t everything always better with free-flow wine?
6/F, Siam@Siam Design Hotel Pattaya, 390 Moo 9, Pattaya Sai 2 Rd.
Open 24 hours (Seafood BBQ Buffet 6:30-11pm daily)
Jejuk Seafood 3
Jejuk Seafood has became somewhat of an institution in Pattaya, where they’ve now expanded to three branches. Our favourite is the third location, which is perched right on the beachfront and comes complete with laidback garden and beanbag seating. The restaurant claims to “bring the ocean to the shore,” and who are we to argue with the super-fresh fish, shrimp and crab on offer? All come cooked with home-style Thai flavours. The location is a little far from Pattaya city centre (try using the Grab app), but dishes like the springy crab omelette and yum sam khai (spicy three-egg salad with crab eggs, fish roe and salted egg) make it worth the effort.
Moo 1, Sukhumvit-Pattaya Soi 2, Naklua
Though located a little way from Pattaya city centre, this waterfront restaurant is a top pick for those dining in big groups. Those who make the trek are rewarded with fresh seafood, killer views and a nightly live cover band. With 100-plus tables, you certainly shouldn’t expect an intimate experience, but delicious fare like yellow curry crab, barbecue shrimp and fresh lobster more than make up for that.
83/4 Moo 2, Na Kluea Soi 4
Open daily 11am-11pm
Naklua Fish Market
Go local with a visit to this fresh market, located just to the north of central Pattaya, where you can find a veritable mountain of seafood at prices that won’t drain your wallet. The produce here is as fresh as it comes, with local fishermen coming to sell their catch of the day from the early morning. The fun lies in picking out your seafood from various stalls and then having it cooked at the stations outside. Expect a hefty selection of fresh and live seafood, from prawns, cockles, scallops and squid to all manner of fish and oysters, at prices that may be half of what you find in the supermarkets. Grab some plastic chairs or rent a mat and wait as vendors steam, boil or grill your selections to perfection. You’ll also find fresh vegetables, fruit, snacks and other items on sale.
Open daily 5am-6pm
No idyllic sea views here, but Panya earns its place on this list thanks to delicious home-cooked dishes, many of which you won’t find on the menus of more touristy spots. The open-fronted restaurant is a barebones affair and sits next to the roaring traffic of Sukhumvit Road. Yet the fact it’s been open for over 22 years should tell you it’s worth a visit. Options like the sand whiting in gaeng pa (a type of herby curry) do not tone down the spice levels, while the pla in-see (king mackerel) with Thai green mango is a local favourite done to perfection. Do beware the restaurant can randomly close on some weekdays so call ahead.
Sukhumvit Rd. (opposite Movenpick Resort)
Open daily 10:30am-9pm
Gorgeous sea views and succulent seafood make a potent combination here. Though it looks like an oversized warehouse, this seafood specialist is known to packs out at sunset when tourists (both local and foreign, often by the busload) flock here for flavour-packed fare like tomyum talay (spicy soup with mixed seafood) and stir-fried squid with egg. The quality is perhaps a notch below the absolute best in town, but who’s complaining? Pluck your favourite seafood from the tank, order up a tower of beer and let the cooking staff do their magic while you kick back admiring those beachfront views.
200 Jomtien Beach Rd., Sattahip
Open daily 10am-9:30pm
You can’t miss the giant sea crab statue that guards the entrance to this partially open-air restaurant on Jomtien Beach Road. Pupen takes its name from its legacy as the first seafood restaurant in Pattaya to cook live crab fresh from the boat. The decor’s not up too much, but you’re here for the exceptional flavours. The high-quality local crab can be prepared steamed or grilled—simple yet satisfying—or enjoyed as part of generous set menus with soups, curries and other dishes.
62 Moo 1, Jomtien Beach Rd., Na Jomtien
Open daily 10am-10pm
Chef Niran Mahayothee
Executive Chef of Siam@Siam Design Hotel Pattaya, and winner of Iron Chef Thailand
“Of course Big Fish is awesome, but to get a home-style seafood meal at the local price, you have to visit Panya Seafood. It’s mostly Thai families who visit. The flavours are fresh, deep and sometimes very spicy. I would recommend the delicious stir-fried squid with salted eggs as a must-try.”
Marc Martínez Ruldua
Director of Food and Beverage at Siam@Siam Design Hotel Pattaya
“I like going to Naklua Fish Market on my day off. It’s very local. You can get your seafood and they’ll grill it for you on the spot for a very small amount. You can have it with nam jim (spicy dipping sauce) and everything. Delicious. There’s a patch of grass where you can lay back near the water.”