One amazing thing about Penang is the awesome hawker stalls. As I was walking around there, I kept discovering more and more, and each time I kept saying, “I wish I knew about this earlier!” So, here’s my list of our favorite places to find food, and what hours we found them to be open.
1. Macallum Street Monday Night Market
Every Monday night, Macallum Street is lined with vendors selling everything from food to clothes, shoes, electronics, and much more. They start at about 7PM. We loved these markets and never missed a Monday night while we were staying in Penang.
Seating is rare at these markets, so be prepared to buy your food and eat it while standing, or take it somewhere else. These markets are more local, so you’ll find good food for good prices.
2. Cecil Street Markets
The Cecil Markets are open every day and have a HUGE selection of hawker stalls for you to pick from. They are better to visit for breakfast or lunch, as the vendors seem to start packing up in the afternoon after 4PM. We also found that a lot less stalls were open on Sunday. The food here is sold at local prices.
There are tables for you to sit at, but keep in mind that certain tables belong to certain drink stands. If you see a sign in the middle of your table, that’s probably what it’s telling you, so you should order a drink when someone comes up and asks you for your order.
3. Chew Jetty Food Court
The Chew Jetty Food Court is a great place to relax, especially on those hot, sweaty days. They have heaps of tables under cover and fans to cool you down. The vendors there open at different times, but it’s more of a lunch or dinner place. We found most places only opened after 10AM.
Note that you do have to buy at least one drink when eating here, otherwise you will incur a 0.50 surcharge. However, the drinks are refreshing and cheap.
At night after about 9PM there is also live entertainment on the center stage.
4. Chulia Street Night Hawkers
Take a stroll down Chulia Street and Penang Road after 7PM at night and you’ll find a variety of night hawkers selling delicious food. One that we particularly liked was the wan tan mee. They had chairs there too, which was handy.
5. Little India
Little India is probably somewhere you’re better off visiting in the late afternoon to evening. If you’re there during Ramadan, there are some awesome Ramadan markets there during the day. They finish around 5:30PM. Other times of the year, just take a wander around and see what appeals to you. You’ll definitely find some good food!
6. Chowrasta Morning Markets
The Chowrasta Markets are better seen in the mornings. Most stalls in the street close around 12PM. If you walk around the streets behind the market, you’ll find lots of local food and fruits for sale for great prices.
7. Padang Kota Lama Food Court
You can get a huge variety of foods at the Padang Kota Lama Food Court. It seems that this food court is closed on Wednesdays, but open in the evenings every other week day. It’s quite a nice place to sit and look out over the water while you enjoy your dinner. Prices are decent, but perhaps a little bit more than local prices you can find elsewhere.
8. Red Garden Food Paradise
We were quite disappointed with the Red Garden Food Paradise simply because we found the prices to be quite high compared to the more local areas, and we found the serving sizes to be quite small. If you’re not travelling on a budget, then this place would be nice to relax with a beer or two.
9. Cheep beer, anyone?
We found this place by chance after talking to a British expat who shared our table at the Chulia Street Night Hawker Stalls. He told us he could show us where to get the cheapest beer in Penang, so we followed him down some dark streets, wondering if we were going to get robbed, but came across this little place that is surprisingly popular with locals, expats, and backpackers. Its name is Antarabangsa Enterprises.
The beer was cheaper than anywhere else we had found in Penang. A can of Fosters was among the cheapest at 4.5 MYR a can, while a can of Skol was 5 MYR. A bottle of Hoegaarden was 5 MYR. Everyone sits outside on little red plastic chairs. If you’re looking for a chilled out place to meet some travelers or locals, this is a good place for it. There is also a guy selling fried chicken next door.
10. Love Lane
If you’re after something a little less hard to find, there’s always Love Lane where you’ll find beer, wine, and cocktails. As you walk down the lane you’ll be met with promoters trying to get you to come into their bar. You can bargain with them to get a good price, especially if you’re in a group or you’re buying three or more drinks. They might even ask you what prices you saw elsewhere and agree to match that.
There’s definitely plenty more places to find great food around Penang. This list is just a start. The best thing is to go walking around and explore. Every day there can be a new adventure for the taste buds!