It’s now been a little over three weeks since I moved out of my apartment in Phnom Penh and flew back to my home state of California. Considering that I am so preoccupied with my imminent move to Beijing, China, I haven’t really had the chance to give Phnom Penh a second thought. Well, that’s not entirely true. One thing that’s been on my mind quite a bit is all the food I’m going to miss. Not a lot of travelers realize this but Cambodia’s capital is a foodie’s paradise. There is honestly no shortage of cheap and delicious vegetarian food in Phnom Penh.
Seriously, Phnom Penh has a ridiculously underrated food scene, especially when it comes to international cuisine. You can honestly find it all in there – from authentic Indian dosas to Southwestern-style burritos to Indonesian gado-gado.
You all know how much I enjoy a good meal, so it should be no surprise that the food was one of my favorite aspects of living in Phnom Penh. So while I highly encourage travelers to sample Cambodian dishes while visiting the capital city, I also recommend indulging at some of the many international and vegetarian-friendly restaurants around town.
5 Amazing Restaurants for Vegetarian Food in Phnom Penh
Never did I ever expect to have the chance to sample authentic Iraqi food in Phnom Penh of all places, but lo and behold, I did! And it was delicious. Taste of the Middle East is an unassuming little eatery tucked away on Street 19. It is actually owned and operated by a family who fled their war-torn hometown of Fallujah in 2014.
They have now established the themselves in Cambodia and are serving up some seriously tasty falafel and shawarma wraps (a steal for $3) as well as staples like hummus and tabbouleh. The menu is extensive and includes tons of vegetarian (and meat) options. When I visited I had no idea what to order because there were so many options. I ended up asking one of the owner’s sons what he recommended and everything he suggested was incredible. I could not recommend this place more!
Because I spent a year living in Indonesia, it’s only natural that I gravitated to one of the only Indonesian restaurants in Phnom Penh. Because I’ve had the luxury of snacking on some of the best tempeh, gado-gado and delicious street foods in Indonesia, I honestly figured I’d be really disappointed. But it turns out that Warung Bali is owned by a Javanese native and it’s about as authentic as it gets!
I was highly impressed that they make their own tempeh (fermented soy beans) and kecap manis (a sort of thick sweet sauce that Indonesians put on everything). Both are delicious at Warung Bali and are some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Located on Street 178, Warung Bali is honestly one of the best deals in town. They have quite a few vegetarian dishes like tempeh goreng (fried tempeh), karedok (raw vegetables with peanut sauce) and gado gado (I wrote a whole post about it here) for a under $2.
For all of you meat eaters out there, I’ve also heard they have some very impressive spicy beef rendang and peanut-drenched chicken satay (for around $3), which are two of the most popular dishes in Indonesia. This place is always packed and I quickly became a regular here. (Tip: Warung Bali is often closed between 2:30 and 5pm.)
There are a ton of Indian restaurants in Phnom Penh but there’s something about Dosa Corner that I couldn’t get enough of. I suppose I have a thing for hole-in-the-wall restaurants that offer great bargains – and Dosa Corner is just that. It’s located on Pasteur Street (south of Sihanouk Blvd, near the Independence Monument). They have all sorts of vegetarian and non-vegetarian staples, including tons of dosas and uttapams. But my go-to dish was the vegetarian thali, which costs just a few dollars. Everything is super cheap, super fast and super good!
Believe it or not there are actually a handful of Mexican restaurants in Phnom Penh. But because I’m somewhat of a Mexican food snob I only tried one Mexican eatery while living in the city. I can’t say for sure that it’s the best in town, because I haven’t tried them all, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by Cocina Cartel.
Not only do they have margaritas for $3.50 (not too bad!), they also have great tasting California-style Mexican food – including make-your-own meat or veggie burritos, quesadillas, tacos and bowls. They also have some pretty decent red and green salsa, a huge plus for a salsa lover like me! Everything costs $5-6, which isn’t bad for Mexican food in Southeast Asia. Cocina Cartel is located near the Royal Palace on 198B and Street 19.
This place doesn’t look like much from the outside, which is probably why it took nearly five months for me to try it. But it is hands down my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Phnom Penh. It’s an amazing pure-vegetarian Chinese eatery that is super popular among locals. Their menu is incredibly extensive and has something for everyone.
They don’t speak much English here so I always just chose things at random (thankfully there are some pictures on the menu!) and was always wowed. They have some seriously tasty noodle soups (filled with mushroom dumplings and some seriously creative mock meats), a range of make-your-own hot pots and dozens of other dishes. This place is a great option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians and it honestly baffles me that it’s not more popular among tourists. An added bonus is that most meals cost less than $3 and there are free pitchers of iced tea. Mercy House is located on Pasteur (north of Sihanouk Blvd., on the corner of Street 222).
Make sure to check out my other guides to Phnom Penh’s vegetarian-friendly restaurants here and here. Also, Never Ending Voyage wrote a fabulous post about vegetarian travel in Cambodia in general here. I highly recommend reading it if you’re a vegetarian traveling in Cambodia!
Have you ever been to Phnom Penh? What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?