The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area

The area around Telok Ayer MRT has long been famed for its cute restaurants and hip bars housed among its cool shop houses. And that’s showing no signs of slowing down, with tons of new openings in just the past few weeks. We thought it was high time to review our options in the CBD hotspot. Here’s where to eat and drink.  


Affordable bites

2D1N Soju Bang
If you thought this Telok Ayer restaurant was actually a Korean travel agent peddling a soju-filled escapade, think again. Named after a Korean game show, this place is all about meat with cuts of pork, chicken and beef like short ribs and thinly-sliced bulgogi—all for $20. Lines can get pretty long here so it’s best to come early.

Burger Joint
This “underground” diner-style restaurant retains the irreverent vibe of its New York flagship, with smooth wooden walls covered in graffiti (diners are welcome to leave their mark there). It offers a more focused and affordable selection of four different burgers (cheeseburger, hamburger, bacon burger and bacon cheese burger) ranging from $13.10 for a hamburger to $15.80 for a bacon cheeseburger, all of which are prepared with a generous portion of freshly-made ground beef patty. There is also a full bar with 18 craft beers on tap from countries like Sweden, the UK, the US and Japan. For more places to quaf craft beers, see Craft Beers, below.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Burger Joint

Fu Lin Yong Tau Foo
This revamped kopitiam had a hipster transformation just last September. So while it’s now a popular lunch time yong tau foo joint, the space transforms into a sleek tapas bar and restaurant by 3pm. You can still load up on self-service, mix-and-match bowls of tofu, meats, dumplings and vegetables, with a choice of having your selections boiled or fried, and served with the eatery’s signature minced chicken gravy—all starting from $5.

For meat lovers

FYR Cycene Ond Drinc
It’s about back-to-basics dishes at this Boon Tat restaurant complete with huge cavemen murals. The menu focuses on Josper-grilled dishes with Southeast Asian spices. Think ribeye with Java curry dressing ($36), red snapper with sambal belacan ($29) and platters of five-spiced chicken, striploin and tiger prawns ($88). The long space with a small street-side patio is great for after-work drinks, too.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Fyr Cycene Ond Drinc

Meat Smith
One of the first restaurants in Singapore to focus on smoked briskets and all things meat, this American smokehouse is casual, convivial and packed to the brim on most nights. The menu is full of carnivorous options like dino beef ribs ($69), pulled pork sandwiches ($14) and fried chicken sandwiches, but don’t leave without trying picklebacks ($8)—whiskey shots with pickle brine.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Meat Smith

The Market Grill
This stylish American eatery with an open-concept kitchen serves up a menu of dishes like aged 21 days grassfed ribeye ($59) and a wide range of burgers—hand-formed to weigh 150g each—including the CW Burger Breakfast ($21) plus an Atlantic cod fish in a parmesan bun ($26). Desserts include apple crumble a la mode ($14) as well as the granite martini ($18), a dish of vodka-ice and lemon and lime sorbet.

Asian cuisine

Dal-In Korean Restaurant

A no-frills Korean barbecue restaurant, this one serves up some pretty legit stuff. Aside from the blaring Korean pop tunes, they’ve got tons of kimchi and side dishes to tuck in to. There are also meats like Jokbal, a pig trotter in soy sauce; seafood Jjamppong Tang, a seafood soup; and dduk bulgogi, a pot of meat stew.

Manna Korean Restaurant
If you ask most Koreans living in Singapore where they go to get a slice of home, they’ll most likely point you in the direction of this restaurant. Manna Korean is homey and a little old-world, so don’t expect anything glitzy. Aside from BBQ dishes, they have a slew of other things like kimchi stew (kimchi chigae), ramyun and a pork dumpling soup.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Sum Yi Tai

Focusing on omakase and kaiseki-style meals, Chef Derrick Lau presents a Japanese fine dining concept that is a breath of fresh air for the Asian dining scene in the area. The omakase lunch and dinner sets start at $68 and $100 respectively. For simpler Japanese fare, there’s a range of classics on the menu, from sashimi to yakimono.

Sum Yi Tai
This 1980s Hong Kong-inspired shophouse space makes full use of balmy night air and after-work snacks and drinks. While the first floor is full of Chinese tapas like carrot cake, crispy roast pork and shrimp paste chicken wings, or har cheong kai. It’s a little reminiscent of glam Oriental opium dens but the rooftop bar is perfect for breezy after-work drinks before descending for a snack.

Ding Dong
They might have shifted to Amoy Street from Ann Siang, but its take on traditional Asian cuisine and cocktails hasn’t changed. The space retains its Asian pop-art vibe, with colorful posters of people and cultures from around the region. They serve modern bites like Vietnamese Scotch eggs ($15)—flavored with laksa leaves—and fried sushi rice with pickled cucumber and sakura ebi ($16). Desserts include Malacca Chendol 2013 ($15), an update on the local confection incorporating shaved ice, sweet corn ice cream (made with a Pacojet) and popcorn.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Wanton Seng’s Noodle Bar

The Flying Squirrel
Local music act Jack & Rai, and Jack’s wife Angelina, run this cozy Japanese eatery hidden away on a side alley. To eat, there’s selection of fusion Japanese bites such as soba pasta ($16)—tomato-sauced noodles and breaded fried shrimp—as well as more traditional offerings like the sashimi platter ($42), and salmon and ikura chirashi ($13).

Wanton Seng’s Noodle Bar
This cool new noodle bar located in the hip Amoy Street has a modern approach to the traditional dish. While it’s based on the famed Seng’s Wanton Noodles, which was founded in Dunman in 1968, chefs Brandon Teo of Pluck and Benson Ng have reinvented the dish. Now you can customize your sides with toppings like roasted pork belly, slow-braised trotters, Batalong egg with spicy mayo and the classic BBQ char siew.

Healthy alternatives

A Poke Theory
Come July 25, this sleek 60-seater establishment will be serving up fresh Hawaiian poke (salad) bowls alongside smoothie bowls, cold-pressed juices and Melbourne’s popular T2 tea infusions—a first in Singapore. They will also be taking fuss-free nutrition to another level with online orders and CBD deliveries.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Aloha Poke

Aloha Poke
Specializing in Hawaiian salad bowls (poke) that typically have chopped raw ahi tuna, this local eatery also offers salmon or vegetarian options, with a choice of white or brown rice and you can also choose to add on toppings like chia seeds, avocado, flying fish roe. Plus, if you really need some lunch-time therapy, they also do Hawaiian craft beers.

Grain Traders
There are plenty of “customize your own healthy bowl” lunch places in the CBD and now the folks behind fusion resto Kilo have hopped on to this DIY bandwagon. Their mix-and-match bowl is a complete nutritional package comprising grains like quinoa, brown rice and soba noodles, hot or cold veggies, proteins with meat and fish choices, toppings such as crushed peanuts and furikake and gourmet sauces like coconut curry and salsa verde.

Mediterranean cuisines

Artemis Grill
This skyscraping venue on the 40th floor of CapitaGreen is all about sustainable Mediterranean food. The raw bar is stocked with fresh seafood like halibut crudo and the Sturia caviar, and hot off the grill are the Greek sea bass and the milk-fed Dutch veal chop. There’s also charcuterie, to be accompanied with their selection of organic and biodynamic wines from the Mediterranean region.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Artemis Grill

Burlamacco Ristorante
This popular Italian restaurant dishes modern-classic Tuscan cuisine such as their Milanese-style crispy chicken chop and there’s also the “Cacciucco” Tuscan seafood stew for those who prefer a more traditional taste. They also have a floor-to-ceiling wine cellar with a collection of over 120 Italian vinos, with 10 by-the-glass options including Prosecco Bortolomiol NV.

Maggie Joan’s
The father-and-son team of Moosehead have recently launched a real hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, accessible only via a back alley. They serve up modern, aesthetically driven plates like yellow tail sashimi, carrots and bradade, smoked quail with waldorf and grilled Iberico pork jowl, prunes and cauliflower and egg with dukkah and saffron mayo. The space, while intimate, is rather non-descript with typical wooden furniture and raw, exposed bricks.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Maggie Joan’s

This hip and cozy Mediterranean joint is home to funky-looking murals—graffiti-style—done up by the chef Manel Valero Ruiz and local artist SKL0 (a.k.a. Samantha Lo). Their meat menu is complete with pork belly and a classic beef burger, with share plates like the roasted cauliflower with leek confit, and there are also vegetarian options. Finish off your meal with sweet desserts, wines or homemade sodas.

Urban Bites
This homely and cozy restaurant dishes out authentic Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine from their traditional breakfast, foul moudamas—fava beans and chicpeas tossed with garlic, cumin, lemon juice and olive oil— to hot and cold mezzas served with pieces of Lebanese bread. They also have wraps, pastries, and seafood mains.

Fare from the Southern Hemisphere 

Our beloved Argentinian restaurant has recently moved from Martin Road to the oh so hip Amoy Street, sporting a swanky interior yet retaining its casual vibe. Their menu has also undergone an overhaul to feature a selection of chargrilled Argentine main courses alongside classic hot and cold starters, and there are also two and three-course set lunches to choose from.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area

Cheek by Jowl
This quaint restaurant by husband-wife duo Chef Naleendra and Manuela Toniolo, brings together modern Australian cuisine and organic wines in more casual setting than its previous incarnation, Sorrel. The menu has a tapas-style inclination towards shareable plates and mains, with seasonal ingredients, such as wild venison tartare and Chef Naleendra’s signature duck and waffles dish.

Cafes and Delis

Taking the space formerly occupied by Bartini Kitchen this European bistro-coffee-tapas-wine all-in-one, makes for a great all-day dining destination. They serve fuss-free food like pork belly carbonara, polenta truffle fries and beef brisket croquettes alongside Australia’s Vittoria Coffee.

Elements & Co
This cheery and airy space offers a fuss-free menu of affordable breakfast, all-day and dinner items including gluten-free, vegetarian and dairy-free options like avocado and feta cheese on Turkish bread and beef street tacos with salsa. Aside from coffee, other drinks on offer range from a small selection of smoothies and fresh juices to a decent list of wines, beer and spirits from all over the world.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Free The Robot

Free The Robot
Housed within the same discreet shophouse as cocktail bar Bitters and Love, this coffeehouse exudes a cozy industrial vibe with simple wooden furniture, old-school motif floors, bare concrete walls etched with graffiti art and an unpretentious outdoor seating area decked out with lazy beach chairs. Their all-day brunch menu includes the namesake Free the Robot Burger, topped with a sunny side up egg, melted cheese and bacon. They’re also doing usual cafe staples like lattes, mochas and juices but for something different, try the Free The Robot Signature—an interesting concoction of coconut oil, milk and espresso.

This back-alley space, which resembles a quaint and intimate French cafe, is a bottle shop, eatery and bar rolled into one. There are coffee, pastries, sandwiches with fresh ingredients like rocket and pesto, chocolate hazelnut tarts for the hungry breakfast/lunch crowd, and bar bites such as gourmet cheese and chartcuterie.

The Muffinry
Muffins are aplenty at this unassuming cafe that schedules a weekly roster of sweet and savory muffins, including spiced carrot (co-owner Christopher Leow’s personal favorite), Earl Grey and fig (our pick) and even Green Eggs and Ham—all at $2.80. Those looking for more filling bites can tuck into their homemade pies (from $7.50) and mini sliders ($4). The original, snug space has since expanded to occupy three floors, welcoming regular open-mic nights.

This CBD bakery makes breads, cakes and a wide range of pastries. The grey space is minimalist and a quiet respite from the maddening office crowd. Sourcing ingredients from Japan and France, they make a range of freshly-baked goods that include croissants, chocolate croissants and their signature pate de fruits. They’ve also got fruit tarts and dessert treats like mango pudding and creme caramel. If you’re coming with a bunch of friends, check out their pound cakes and cheesecakes.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area

Park Bench Deli
Trio Chef Ming Tan of Lolla, Chef Andrei Seon of The Cajun Kings and Aamir Ghani are serving their much-loved sandwiches at this permanent space in Telok Ayer and must-tries include their signature sandwiches like the fried chicken sandwich slathered with garlic and rosemary and fried with buttermilk. They’ll also whip up new creations like the torta made with Mexican-spiced pulled pork, salsa, guac and Cotija cheese and there’s also craft brews from places like Modern Times.

Vanilla Bar & Cafe
True to the name you’ll actually get a waft of vanilla wandering passed this cafe. The kitchen serves comfort food like slow-cooked pulled pork sandwiches, Japanese bites like yakiniku dons, fish & chips and pastas like carbonara and garlic & prawn. Plus, they’ve got a great happy hour deal: $14 for two Asahis, $12 for two glasses of house wines or house pours.



Bitters & Love
The famed bespoke cocktail bar has shifted relocated to the city’s new foodie destination: Telok Ayer Street—sharing the space with their new day concept, Free The Robot. Resident bartender Chris Dennis from London will whip you up some locally-inspired bespoke cocktails such as Ancient Orchard ($24), a concoction of a small batch geranium gin, cucumber juice, tio pepe cordial, peach, white wine and peychaud’s bitters. Don’t miss out on their addictive bar snacks like truffle chips ($13).

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
The Spiffy Dapper

Employees Only
This famed swanky New York bar recently opened at Amoy Street, with stylish and modern interiors. Their cocktail menu has highlights like the EO Gimlet, made with Perry’s Tot Navy Strength gin and lime cordial, and on the kitchen front, options range from a strong variety of meat, seafood, pasta, burgers and salad dishes. You can expect raucous late-night partying and friendly hospitality—the last batch of revelers will be served warm cups of chicken soup upon closing.

Spiffy Dapper
The infamous Boat Quay dive has moved to its new and larger space at Amoy Street, with a more conventionally attractive look with lots of timber and handcrafted metal furniture. Chill for some ’20s jazz music while bartenders Jez and Joyce make some bespoke cocktails.

To pretend you’re Ernest Hemingway for a night, head down to this casual bar and steakhouse along Amoy Street. This modern rendition of a rustic Southern bar boasts a selection of over 100 rums from all over the world, and is known for its rum-inspired cocktails by bar program director Aki Eguchi. Chill out to a laid-back soundtrack of retro Latin and Jamaican reggae and order up some of their delicious grilled meats like the oxtail bone marrow and pork chop with salt brine and orange parsley.

, The best places to eat and drink in Singapore’s Telok Ayer area
Jigger & Pony
Colorful and friendly, with red and yellow booth seats and a collection of vintage liquor posters on the walls, this welcoming cocktail spot offers a grid-like menu of tipples including classics like the negroni and new inventions such as Little Red Dot, made from Tanqueray Ten gin, raspberries, lychee liqueur, grapefruit juice and Indian rosewater.

Craft Beer

This place houses 18 taps of rotating exotic microbrews from around the world, and a list of bottled beers and ciders with Asian-inspired pub grub to pair with the brews. On tap, there are beers from New Zealand, like Mini-Matta Tea Leaf Pale Ale by Yeastie Boys and 8Wired’s Semi-Conductor Session IPA. Food-wise, the menu has reliable—dude-food items like burgers with fries, bacon tempura and cereal frog legs.


Napoleon Food & Wine Bar
This wine bar offers mostly Southern European specimens, available by the glass, and you can also get samples of each wine. Bottles might include liquorice-y Marquis de Saint-Estephe 2009, and premium labels like Conca Tre Pile Barbera d’Alba 2006. They also have wine-based cocktails and an array of European eats such as warm spinach salad with crispy bacon ($10) and lamb shank parma tier.