If you know us then you’re probably aware that we’re always on the lookout for hot new restaurants around town and we tend to gravitate to super buzzy spots. But what you may not know is that we also love quaint hole-in-the-wall eateries where the vibes are chill, the food is comforting, and the bill won’t burn a hole in the wallet. In fact, some of our favourite meals are easy-going Sunday roasts and relaxed weeknight dinners where you can just chill out and enjoy great food and drinks. If you’re looking for casual comfort food eats, you can’t go wrong at these laid-back gems.
Eclectic would be one word to describe Artichoke, a funky Middle Eastern-inspired spot in the heart of the arts district. Here chef Bjorn Shen puts out imaginative culinary creations in his signature ‘dudestronomy’ style. Dishes are meant to be shared, so grab some mates and dig into offerings like the burnt miso hummus with Turkish bread, crispy ‘wangs’ with Sriracha, and the aptly named Lambgasm, a succulent whole roasted lamb shoulder that can feed up to six.
Artichoke, 161 Middle Road, Singapore 188978. p. +65 6336 6949. Open Tues – Sun 4pm – 9:45pm, Brunch Sat – Sun 11:30am – 2:45pm
If you happen to be on the East Coast and craving a homey Italian meal, Bruno’s Pizzeria & Grill is your spot. Everything about the space is ultra inviting from the simple checked tablecloths to the warm wood panelling, and the smiling servers who make you feel right at home. The homemade pizzas and pastas are simply divine, but we suggest checking out the daily specials for inspired creations like the spinach risotto with asparagus and gambas wrapped in bacon.
Bruno’s Pizzeria & Grill, 344 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437113. p. +65 6440 4525. Open daily 12pm – 2:30pm, 6pm – 10:30pm
Founded in 2003, E-Sarn now has four laid-back locations that focus on fresh, authentic Thai food. You won’t find any fancy gimmicks here; just simple dishes that boast big, bold Thai flavours like the hearty beef noodle soup, fragrant papaya salad laced with herbs, and plump prawns stir-fried in a tangy tom yum sauce. Try the weekday lunch sets for just $10++ with a drink or swing by in the evening for a tasty Thai feast that won’t break the bank.
E-Sarn, 200 Turf Club Road #01-13, Singapore 287994 (and various locations). +65 6468 4484. Open daily 11:30am – 10pm
Step inside the glass-enclosed interior of iO Italian Osteria and you’ll find yourself in a homey space with rustic white-washed tables, shelves lined with Italian staples, and wooden barrels filled with house wine. Breathe in the aroma of roasted garlic and freshly baked bread, and we can guarantee your stomach will start growling. Some of our favourites here include the burrata with parma ham and rucola and the to-die-for orecchiette with pork sausage and saffron sauce.
iO Italian Osteria, 4 Hillview Rise, HillV2 #02-01, Singapore 667979. p. +65 6710 7150. Open daily 10am – 10pm
Squirreled away on the top floor of the Far East Plaza, Nanbantei is a super cosy spot offering up authentic and affordable Japanese eats. Grab a seat at the counter in front of the grill and watch the chefs in action as they skewer premium cuts of meat, season them simply with salt and pepper, and grill them to perfection over hot coals. Yakitori is the main draw, but they also do great sashimi plates and robust rice bowls.
Nanbantei, 14 Scotts Road #05-132, Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213. p. +65 6733 5666. Open daily 11:45am – 2:30pm, Mon – Sat 6pm – 10:30pm, Sun 5:30pm – 10pm
We’re kind of torn about sharing this hidden Japanese gem, but Nobuya is just too good to keep secret. Izakaya style eats are the game at this small hole-in-the-wall spot, so you can expect small plates like crispy whole grilled fish, light spring vegetable tempura, chopped tuna belly on rice, and thinly sliced beef tataki. Be warned though—this space is tiny and fills up fast, so reservations are highly recommended.
Nobuya, 190 Middle Road, Fortune Centre #01-05 Singapore 188979. p. +65 6338 3450. Open Tues – Sun 6pm – 11pm
Pince & Pints
You’ve gotta love a spot where the beer flows freely and you’re fully encouraged to eat with your hands. Pince & Pints specialises in lobsters caught wild off the Atlantic East Coast along with other tasty bites from the sea. Try the lobster roll packed with sweet lobster meat in a pillowy bun, the whole steamed lobster with melted butter on the side, or the oh-so-creamy lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Wash it all down with an icy cold Hoegaarden or Stella Artois.
Pince & Pints, 32/33 Duxton Road, Singapore 089946. p. +65 6225 7228. Open Mon – Fri 12pm – 2:30pm, Sat & PH 12pm – 11pm & 95 East Coast Road, Singapore 428793. p. +65 6386 3988. Open Tues – Fri 12pm – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 11pm, Sat, Sun & PH 11am – 11pm
Looking for a chill, no-frills spot for a hearty and flavourful dinner? Make your way to Pistachio Grill in Zhongshan Mall where Khaled Elelimi whips up tasty Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes with a healthy twist. Standouts for us include the creamy hummus, crunchy falafel with tahini, and the slow-cooked lamb shank with tender meat served on top of fluffy saffron rice.
Pistachio Grill, 20 Ah Hood Road, Zhongshan Mall #01-15, Singapore 329984. p. +65 6262 6400. Open daily 11:30am – 10pm
Sin Hoi San
Sin Hoi San has been satisfying locals, expats, and tourists alike for over 30 years now and it doesn’t take a genius to see why. The atmosphere at this Tiong Bahru institution is casual and cheerful, the seafood is spectacularly fresh, and the chefs are experts at cooking up homey zi char dishes like salted egg crabs, fried mantis prawns with salt and pepper, and clams fried with garlic and chili. Even better, they stay open until 5am every night of the week.
Sin Hoi San, Block 55 Tiong Bahru Road, Singapore 160055. p. +65 6223 0810. Open daily 5pm – 5am.
The Sushi Bar
Just like the simple name suggests, The Sushi Bar doesn’t mess around with OTT creations. Instead the menu is all about thick slabs of sashimi, classic sushi rolls, and a few rice and noodle dishes thrown in for good measure. The quality is always top-notch and the prices are super reasonable, which makes this is a great spot to hit up when you’re looking for a quick, healthy lunch or an easy after-work dinner.
The Sushi Bar, 391B Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City #05-35, Singapore 238874 (and various locations). p. +65 8818 3535. Open daily 11:30am – 9:45pm