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.