Singapore is becoming increasingly known for being a popular destination for expats from around the globe. In fact, news channel CNBC just recently named Singapore the number one country in the world for expatriates to live and work. It’s no wonder, Singapore is a major draw for expats because of its strategic geographical location, booming financial and commidites industries, excellent health care, top rated education, spoken English and overall high quality of life.
There are roughly 1.5 million people living in Singapore who are considered non-residents (a mix of professionals, dependents, students and foreign domestic workers). This is just one reason for Singapore’s ever-growing and extremely diverse food scene. Because no matter where you are originally from or currently living, we all have one thing in common – we’re hungry!
So, as your resident expat writer, I will lay out my top picks for the most popular expat hangouts (and the most yummy) around Singapore. Check out these places if you are new to the island and looking to meet other expats, catch your favorite overseas team play in a big match, perhaps snag a foreign angmoh boyfriend, or you may even want to take this list into consideration if you are looking to avoid the expat crowd. Just kidding! 🙂
Oh how I love Boomarang. Booma, as I affectionately refer to it, is awesome for many reasons. One reason is that they are the go-to location for any and all televised sporting events. Expats excitedly unite at 6:30am for the Super Bowl, 1:00am for the Rugby World Cup and everything in between.
Their selection of menu items is extensive and enjoyable morning, noon and night. They also offer a huge range of beer, wine and cocktails – perfect for gathering a group of friends and passing the entire day over beer buckets, good company and good sports.
Kith and I go way back to my first day in Singapore. Back in NYC, walking to my local coffee shop at the bottom on my building was one of my favorite daily tasks, so I was happy to discover Kith. I was even happier to discover their strong coffee, toastie sandwiches, to die for banana bread and most of all, extra friendly staff who are always smiling and remember your order.
Calling all parents, children and dog owners – Kith is great spot to catch up with a pal while the rug rats (both of the human and canine variety) play nearby. Both outlets at Robertson Quay and Sentosa are buzzing with expats.
I’m embarrassed to say I’m one of those PS.Cafe enthusiasts who has likely given half their annual income to this eatery. I mean why not – the food is excellent and you get a different vibe from each of their multiple locations.
I go to the PS.Cafe petite on Martin Road when I am needing something quick for take away, I take out of town guests to the Dempsey location for some cool, Singapore jungle dining and I check out the Ann Siang spot when I’m feeling like letting loose with the gals in their adults only local. PS.Cafe is a quick easy option that consistently cures my Western food cravings.
With multiple locations, the Holland Village spot is often crawling with mums and expats who live in this popular expat-friendly area. Their all-day breakfast items and coffee options have patrons popping in, or sitting down with friends for an extended period of time.
This casual bakery is a nice spot for meeting up with someone new, setting up a networking coffee, or simply enjoying a stealer bunch and then taking home a loaf of bread for that nights dinner (and some sweets for dessert, of course).
Toby’s Estate is well known for being a taste of home for the Aussies of Singapore. At Toby’s you will find a range of menu items for both breakfast and lunch, well-made coffee drinks, as well as their bags of signature coffee beans for sale to take home.
On the weekends Toby’s will be buzzing with young expat families. During the week Toby’s is a popular place to chill out, have a friendly lunch meeting or even spend some quiet time working on your computer in a cool, low-key environment.
Expats love Super Loco: 1. because we love Mexican food, 2. it’s family friendly and 3. it also has an abundance of drinks with your friends, friendly. The trifecta.
The space is open-air and located in expat hot spot Robertson Quay drawing in a constant flow of patrons. Super Loco has become one of the most popular places for the neighborhood crowd to have a fun night out before returning home to the kiddos.
Wild Honey serves upscale Western cafe food in a well curated, stylish environment. Both locations (the new Mandarin Gallery and Scotts Square) are always quietly humming with patrons enjoying breakfast, bunch and various savorey bites throughout the day.
Wild Honey is a great place to dine with out of town guests or get to know a new friend over coffee and eggs. The space has a homey and cozy feeling and the top food is an added bonus.
Beaujolais is one of my most favorite spots to get a drink (actually multiple drinks) on a Friday night. The high top tables out on the street are a great place to pass the night and have a good time with friends.
All the single ladies! Also, each time I’ve been to Beaujolais there have been a plethora of cute guys swarming the area. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never tried the food here, but the beers and Prosecco are all you really need to have a good time.
One reason this place is a popular expat hangout is the consistency of the food and the overall value (and its Duxton Hill location). Every visit turns out the same quality steaks frites and is drenched in their delicious secret sauce – which very closely resembles the more famous steak frites institutions across parts of Europe.
With wine being notoriously expensive in Singapore, also I find the house wine at L’Entrecôte to be of excellent taste and value – a major draw for thirsty expats.
Portico Prime now serves a comprehensive list of tea from Twinnings alongside Pollenation’s honey, a locally harvested honey that is milder and delicate, slightly floral and not as thick as the honey harvested from Australia. The coffee beans used are curated and sourced from Dutch Colony.
If you haven’t already noticed by now, the dishes are visually stunning with all the floral garnishes and special care to how it is presented on the table. It has definitely scored aesthetic points and taste wise, it hasn’t let me down one bit. Tasting just as good as it looks and with an incredible concept of self sustainability with locally sourced ingredients, I would be lying to say I’m not sold.
Expats are not the only ones who enjoy Ding Dong, but I will attest to the fact that Ding Dong is a Club Street favorite among the expat crowd. The first time I dined at Ding Dong I knew this was going to be one of my favorite spots in Singapore.
What I like most about Ding Dong (besides the food) is its ideal location for a fun night out and its beautiful shophouse setting. It’s great for going out with friends, but cool and unique enough to treat visiting guests. It’s a wonderful blend of Southeast Asian dishes created with a modern flare – prefect for new expats to dip their toe into SE Asian cuisine.
Tiong Bahru Bakery has a few locations around Singapore, but expats prefer to congregate at its flagship Eng Hoon location. The Tiong Bahru area, one of the oldest housing areas on the island, is entering into a time of new-age popularity and dare I say gentrification.
Multiple shops, bakeries and cafes are popping out in its old school, historic alleyways drawing the attention of curious expats who live in the neighboring areas. Personally, I enjoy having breakfast at Tiong Bahru Bakery and then cruising the nearby wet market for fresh produce and weekly groceries.
Open Farm Community is a relatively new restaurant buzzing in the expat community mainly because of its sprawling, 35,000 square foot outdoor space that’s great for kids and their countdown Champagne brunch great for adults. Oh, and did I mention the food is locally sourced and outstanding to boot?
The ingredients are fresh and the plates are extremely well executed making for some happy tummies while the the rustic, relaxed interior makes for happy hearts. Definitely check out OFC next time you are considering heading to PS.Cafe for the third time this month.
I’ve had a blast at Kinki both after work on a week day and on a Saturday night. While the sushi is fresh, I personally enjoying coming here for their rooftop deck and one-for-one happy hour deals. The view is outstanding and it’s the perfect place to chill out with a group of friends, catch the fireworks and flyover during National Day prep, or pre-game a variety of concerts and shows over at the nearby Sands.
Good food, good drinks, a good setting and a good view make for an all-around good time in Singapore.
LeVel33 is another spot with an outstanding view – possibly my favorite in all of Singapore. Although the outside area can get full after working hours, it’s prefect for chilling out when it’s more quiet on the weekends.
Being the ‘worlds highest urban craft brewery’ LeVel33 has a variety of homemade brews that pair well with their entree items as well as their snacks menu. Expat life got you feeling down? Come to LeVel33 and order a cold beer and enjoy the breeze. Sitting up in the sky and over looking this beautiful city will make you feel so fortunate and blessed to be living in this incredible place.