Most of the places to eat in Pakse are along or nearby Road 13 stretching east from the Se Don River for about a kilometre. A great range of local eateries are located down by the Mekong, but almost all have the same Lao offerings. Just pick one and hope for the best.
Jasmin Restaurant does incredibly cheap and popular Indian food in the heart of the tourist district. It's been cooking up fresh roti, dosai, curries and biriyani for years now, but sadly the taste of the food hasn't improved and nor does it need to. Tourists flock here for the promise of authentic Indian while poor old Nazim down in the back alley is empty. It's sad really because the food we've had here over the years has been completely underwhelming yet it still draws the biggest crowds in town.
Hasan Indian Restaurant further east and on a small sidestreet is better, but more expensive. The naan is first class and the dishes we've tried have been much tastier than those at Jasmin. It's still nowhere near the best Indian food in Laos, but it's not bad.
Bolaven Cafes is a trendy little cafe on the main strip with a focus on fair trade coffee. You'll see plenty of locals hanging out here surfing the free WiFi and sipping on their morning brew as if it were their local Starbucks. But thankfully the similarities end there with the cakes and pastries served being quite rustic and home-made looking. The cooked meals are decent with a bunch of Thai favourites, spaghetti and some breakfast options all on the menu. Unsurprisingly, few backpackers come here due to the slightly elevated prices but anyone with a bit more money and a laptop will be found here.
Panda Cafe is slightly east of the main tourist area along the main road, Route 13. The Chinese owner is a bit brusque, but the food is extremely cheap, tasty and plentiful. It's no gourmet paradise, but the setup is clearly aimed towards backpackers and the menu and price definitely fit the criteria. The packets are a particularly good deal for those with grumbling stomachs.
Le Panorama on the roof of the Pakse Hotel is a fantastic place to have a bite to eat and watch the sun set over Pakse. The building is one of the tallest in town so you can see for miles in every direction. The menu is more expensive than most in town, but it does have a French flair which you tend to pay a premium for in Laos. Paired with the view, it's a fair value place for a proper meal.
Katuad Coffee at the eastern end of the tourist strip is a coffee shop, pure and simple. Specialising in all manner of caffeinated beverages, it's a place where you typically see loads of people sitting down with a laptop and large drink glued to the internet. The food here is simple but decent too with a range of Lao and Western dishes available – perhaps a better spot for lunch than dinner.
Jasmin Restaurant – Road 13, Pakse. T: (031) 251 002, (020) 525 8885. Open daily 06:30–23:00.
Hasan Indian Restaurant – Just off Road 13, Pakse. Open daily 07:00–22:30.
Bolaven Cafes – Road 13, Pakse. Open daily 07:00–22:30. www.bolavenfarms.com.
Panda Cafe – Road 13, Pakse. Open daily 07:00–22:00.
Le Panorama – Pakse Hotel, Road 5, Pakse. T: (031) 212 131. Open daily 12:00-22:30.
Katuad Coffee – Road 13, Pakse. Open daily 07:00–22:00.