Kampot is one of Cambodia’s culinary hot spot with a surprising range of options for such a small town.
True coffee nerds will know they’re in the right place upon seeing Cafe Espresso’s menu introduction — “Sorry, we don’t serve ‘regular coffee.'” Arguably the best coffee in Cambodia, Cafe Espresso serves up a wide range of expertly prepared European and Australian-style espresso drinks, pour-overs, siphons, and even one of our favorites, the humble Aeropress. The cafe, which opened in 2011, sources regional coffee beans and roasts them in-house daily, for a strong, flavorsome coffee perfect for milk-infused espresso drinks. If that weren’t enough, Cafe Espresso serves breakfast and lunch, and the food is fantastic. Check for daily specials. The Australian owners are welcoming and happy to dole out sightseeing recommendations, and the cafe is family-friendly, with a no-smoking policy indoors. The free wifi, large wooden work tables, and comfortable old shophouse style make this an ideal place to hunker down for a few hours with a flat white and a laptop.
Open daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
#17 Street 717, down the side street from Epic Arts Cafe (Look for the small wooden “Espresso” sign), Kampot
T: 092 388 736
Ecran has moved to a new riverside location in front of Rainbow Bridge Hotel, but apart from the view, not much has changed. This casual noodle house serves up delicious dumplings — pork or veggie, fried or boiled — and hand-pulled Chinese noodles either fried or in soup. It’s always to decide between hand-pulled noodles and dumplings, so we suggest you get both. If you come at the right time of day, you’ll get to watch the noodle-maker at work stretching out pounds and pounds of noodles. Dumplings are $3for 12, and noodle soups $2.50, and beers are $1.
Open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Riverside Road, between Old Bridge and Kampot Hospital, Kampot
T: 010 249 411
Tertúlia serves authentic Portuguese food, professionally plated in a way that would never have been seen in the Kampot of yore. The menu is filled with fish and seafood dishes, including Bulhao Pato clams, octopus salad, and the traditional Portuguese slow-cooked seafood dish, seafood cataplana. Meat eaters need not worry, though, steak mirandesa and beef cheeks in a red wine reduction are also on the menu. Mains cost between $7.50 and $12.50, and they also have a nice selection of Portuguese wines. The restaurant is excellent by Kampot standards, but our gritty clams reminded us that we’re still out in the sticks. A meal for two goes for around $40, depending on how much Portuguese wine you imbibe. Be warned that it’s cash only.
Open Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sundays, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., closed Wednesdays
4 Street 724 (one block back from Riverside Road), Kampot
T: 093 375 085
Epic Arts Cafe
The Epic Arts Cafe is one of the most popular eateries in Kampot, and with good reason. Part of the Epic Arts inclusive arts NGO, the cafe was created as a place to employ differently abled young people and was envisioned as a hangout for deaf students. They might not be able to get a table, though, because the place is always packed, and when we visited there was a line out the door.
The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch with a simple but delicious menu of healthy international specials, salads, bagels, and paninis. We tried the bagel with hummus and olives, sweet corn cakes with tomato salsa, and grilled barracuda with mango salad, and each was delicious. Because most of the staff are deaf, ordering is done by paper and pencil, and it must be said when we were there the cafe was woefully understaffed. But the food more than made up for it, and the prices, with mains between $3 and $4.50, were very good value.
Open daily, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
67 Street 724, near Old Market, Kampot
T: 092 922 069
We stumbled across Twenty Three during their soft opening, but already they were packed with bearded and tattooed 20-somethings. The place is very much a hipster restaurant (right down to the menu font), but in the best possible way. At Twenty Three they make their own pickles and serve salted caramel desserts, braised pork belly, and classic cocktails — all delicious evidence of their hipster bona fides. But more important, the food is very good and reasonably priced. The menu is small and changes regularly, with daily specials that depend on the mood of the South African chef. The standout for us was the smoked mackerel pate, served with whole-wheat toast and cucumber pickles. Prices are between $4 and $6, and there’s also a bar with a nice selection of cocktails, including negronis and Manhattans as well as more exotic concoctions.
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 11:45 p.m.
23 East Street, Kampot
T: 088 607 9731
Rusty Keyhole 2
The Rusty Keyhole is no more, but the Rusty Keyhole lives on. Whereas the former were known for ribs, the latter has made a name for itself with their Sunday roast. The sports bar offers inexpensive Sunday roasts, including roasted lamb with mint sauce, roasted local pork with applesauce and crackling, and roast beef with horseradish sauce, all made with imported Australian meats. Each meal comes with roasted veg, mashed and roast potatoes, two Yorkshire puddings and gravy and costs between $4 and $7.50. Add Brussels sprouts for $1. Get to Rusty 2 early on a Sunday because they tend to sell out in just a few hours.
Open daily, 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Across from 2000 Roundabout, Kampot
T: 077 650 195
Baraca – closed during Covid-19
This German-owned tapas bar has an appealingly eclectic minimalism, with mixed table sizes and heights, mustard yellow walls, and old Chinese biscuit tin light fixtures. The bar serves up a few kinds of crisp, bubbly cava, considered but somewhat pricey cocktails — try a passionfruit daiquiri when it’s in season — homemade limoncello, and Cambodia beer on tap. The gazpacho bloody marys are nothing less than addictive. One particular delight is the Baraca “dessert” — a shot of Thai rum paired with a sweet Indonesian clove cigarette. Skeptical? We were, too, but it’s a great way to end a meal.
Open daily, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
7 Street 726, Kampot
T: 011 290 434
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