Of course I found my favorite place in Siem Reap during my last few hours there. After three full days of touring Angkor Wat, clambering over ancient piles of brick and sandstone, my friends and I needed to refuel before making the eight hour land journey back to Bangkok. So, avoiding the Old Market's tourist-clogged streets and alleys, we crossed over to the eastern side of the Siem Reap River and followed Wat Bo Road to Peace Cafe.
Seconds after stepping into the shaded garden we knew we'd made the right choice. The vegetarian menu was excellent (I ordered an extra thick peanut butter shake and a panini with roasted red pepper and hummus) as well as affordable. Nothing was more than $4 and most dishes were in the $2 range. And while I decided against alcohol with lunch, I couldn't help noticing that they served beer, too. What impressed us most of all though, was their dedication to education and sustainable social enterprise.
Besides preparing healthy food, Peace Cafe runs Khmer cooking courses using fresh herbs grown in their garden. Khmer language lessons and yoga are offered five days a week and Pilates classes are held on Tuesdays and Fridays. Monk Chats on Wednesday and Saturday evenings serve as an informal (and free) introduction to Buddhism. Plus, anyone looking to leave with a Cambodian souvenir—edible or otherwise—will be happy to know about Peace Cafe's bakery and Fair Trade Shop. I would've stayed longer, but we had to catch a taxi to the Thai border. I do plan to make it back however. For more vegetarian dining suggestions in Siem Reap and elsewhere, visit HappyCow.