In terms of food, Phimai is surprisingly well stocked for such a small town.
For a light breakfast before heading into the ruins, or for some serious air-con afterwards, check out Barai Café across from the Prasat entrance. In addition to freshly brewed espresso and teas, the glossy café also serves up a limited number of tasty sandwiches, waffles and snacks dished up alongside the latest fashion magazines. On a cool day, head outside to their patio.
For another breakfast option, stop next to the 7-eleven a few doors down from Barai, where a friendly woman makes delicious whole wheat waffles, beignets, and fried bananas. To satisfy your sweet tooth, head around the corner to Rakan Bakery on Tha Songkhran Rd. -- offerings include cinnamon rolls and cute chocolate mice. Or, directly to the east of the historical park check out the aptly named Bakery for cake, doughnuts, Thai iced tea and tasty small rice plates for lunch.
For traditional Thai fare, Inter Food on Tha Songkhran Rd is highly recommended by locals and along with the standards, serves some specialties like spicy chicken's toe salad. For something more simple, the restaurant at Khru Pom has an extensive English language Thai food menu, serving authentic and tasty standards in an air-con, foreigner-friendly atmosphere. For an even more authentic experience, patronise the night market stalls that get going at about 17:00 on either side of the event grounds by the digital clock tower. Locals shop for produce and fresh meats while snacking on such Isan specialties as deep-fried insects and grilled meat kabobs.
Take the main road toward the Mun River and more culinary treats await. Jintana -- a pork barbeque joint flanked on either side by your staple som tam and noodle stands -- surprisingly has a few vegetarian offerings. There's a Thai style pizza restaurant across the street, and a bit further down the road near the river Sunny's is a cheerful place for a good steak.
The local specialty -- pad Phimai -- is a more savory and less sweet adaptation to pad Thai, and although this may be found just about anywhere, we recommend the nameless restaurant located down the sidestreet just before the river if heading away from the Prasat. Aside from the excellent pad Phimai, authentic som tam and grilled chicken may be found here, as well as a decent view of the Mun River. And finally, if you find yourself in the area, the restaurant at Phimai Inn dishes up tasty eats on a scenic veranda by the pool.
As fas as drinking is concerned, a few bars stick out above the others. Most notably, Rabien Mai, across from Phimai Paradise Apartment for it's verdant deck, patio seating, and well-stocked bar. Rabien Mai also offers an extensive menu of spicy Isan salads -- the perfect snack to accompany a cold Singha on a hot evening. Raka, across from the clock tower, is another good option with live music some nights.