Our favourite is the popular and friendly Mark Restaurant on Strand Road. It’s opposite the small park, south of immigration, right in front of a temple and indeed with a temple-style roof looks at first glance to be part of the Buddhist complex -- until you see the Myanmar Beer signs. They have an extensive Thai-Burmese menu in English and quality and quantity is excellent. Dishes go for 2,000 to 4,000 kyat and draught beer is 700 a glass. Plus they stay open until 22:00. Strongly recommended!
Behind Mark on Mya Nanda Street is the very good Buddy Cafe run by a Thai expat. Preferring cute laidback Kawthaung to what he considered the busy metropolis of Ranong, the owner has set up a Thai-style coffee shop, bakery and restaurant with a smart air-con interior, English menu and perhaps the best WiFi in town. The fine fresh coffee, tempting Western-style bakery section and well prepared Thai dishes make this another fave in town. Prices – since you’re paying for the air-con – are slightly higher than elsewhere.
Other than your standard Burmese curry houses around the market – fine in the mornings but a bit riskier by the time evening arrives – you’re rather restricted to hotel restaurants. Honey Bear knocks up some decent Thai/Chinese and even European dishes at reasonable prices, even if it lacks atmosphere. The in-house restaurant at Garden Hotel comes with a view, though it is a long walk into town if you’re not staying there. We’d forget Penguin’s bland and limited offerings, while if you want to splash out you can always tuk tuk 14 kilometres up the road and back for some fine dining at Victoria Cliff.
Other than Buddy’s, Honey Bear’s coffee is jolly good and you can ask for a chair outside to check out the waterfront action. The best juice bar we found in town was Waiyantan, just a little way up the hill on Bogyoke. It offers a wide range of freshly squeezed juices plus yoghurt drinks and ice creams. Next door is a good daytime noodle option.
For evening drinks, Penguin’s doorstep seems to be a popular traveller gathering spot before moving down to Mark’s for some draught beer. Garden has its view although of course you can always head up to Victoria too for a sunset cocktail. This is a good option if you time your return from Maliwan Waterfall right though you’d have to tip the driver.
Back in town and later in the evening, the super friendly Love Coffee Shop has a fridge full of cold drinks as well as a few basic dishes though their coffee isn’t as good as other options. Nevertheless digging up Bowie’s greatest hits for an impromptu tribute evening and putting up with inebriated tourists singing Starman until the beer ran out around 02:00 deserves a special commendation. A surprising number of street stalls in the central area stay open late (unless they were all Bowie fans), with a few grilled offerings on sale.
Buddy Cafe: Mya Nanda St, Kawthaung; T: (092) 545 5446; open daily 08:00-23:00 low season, 23:00 high.
Garden Hotel: Shwe Minon Rd, Kawthaung; open daily 08:00-22:00.
Honey Bear: Strand Rd, Kawthaung; open daily 07:00-22:00.
Love Coffee Shop: Clock Tower Rd, Kawthaung; open daily 08:00 until late.
Mark Restaurant: Strand Rd, Kawthaung; open daily 07:00-22:00.
Waiyantan Cold Drink: Bogyoke Rd, Kawthaung; open daily 08:00-20:00.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.