Pakbara has enough curry, coffee and street food to get the job done, but alcohol and pork can be hard to come by in this Muslim town.
On the way into the pier you’ll pass a cluster of vendors selling fresh fruit among local products and snacks. Packaged in colourful boxes, Trang cake is great for munching on the boat, perhaps accompanied by a milky chaa yen (Thai iced tea). For a more substantial meal, do indulge if you see a heavyset woman selling som tam and grilled chicken—she’s been here for years.
Across the car park from the pier, Krua Thai is a classic Southern Thai khao gaeng (curry and rice) shop set in a shophouse with a few steel tables. The gaeng som (sour orange curry with fish), gaeng tai pla (fish stomach curry) and stir-fried eggplant were all cheap, authentic and tasty. Foods are displayed under glass so you can point to have one or several options piled atop a plate of rice. You'll also find good chaa yen and fresh coffee here. Directly across the street, Bang Worn is a larger khao gaeng shop with more options.
Heading further south along the main drag, just past 7-eleven, look for a hole-in-the-wall eatery with a small English menu in orange lettering posted on the wall. The seafood noodle soup and panang beef curry were tasty and priced below 50 baht. If you prefer to browse a longer English menu, Best House and Diamond Resort both offer a wide range of Thai food in the 100-200 baht range. Both will water down the dishes for Westerners, but the atmospheres are conducive to playing a few games of cards while nibbling on spring rolls and satay.
If you’re spending a night in Pakbara, consider taking a La-Ngu-bound songthaew south to one of several open-air restaurants overlooking the sea at Ao Noon. Some have little thatch huts where you can dig into whole grilled fish, fresh crab and squid in the sea breeze.