ภัตตาคาร /phát.taaˈkhaan/ n. restaurant.
Yep, today's word is just a fancy word for a fancy restaurant. At the very least, if you don't accept credit cards, I don't think you get to be called a ภัตตาคาร. :P
The word ภัตตาคาร is a compound from Pali, combining ภัต /phát/ "food" + อาคาร /aaˈkhaan/ "building".
Bonus vocab: Thais distinguish between a few types of eating establishments:
- สวนอาหาร /ˈsǔan aaˈhǎan/ (literally "food garden") is an outdoor restaurant.
- ห้องอาหาร /ˈhɔ̂ŋ aaˈhǎan/ (literally "food room") is a restaurant within a larger building, such as a hotel.
- ร้านอาหาร /ˈráan aaˈhǎan/ (literally "food shop") is everything else. It's the basic general term, though, so it tends to encompass everything.
- ศูนย์อาหาร /ˈsǔun aaˈhǎan/ (literally "food center") is a food court, like at Tesco Lotus or a mall, with lots of little shops for the choosing.
- แคนทีน /kʰɛnˈthiin/ (from UK English "canteen") is a cafeteria, like in a school or office building. Unless you're British, in which case it's a canteen. Formally, this would be a โรงอาหาร /rooŋ aaˈhǎan/.
There are legal definitions for some of these terms as determined by the Ministry of Public Health (กระทรวงสาธารณสุข), but you'll often see restaurants self-identify as one or the other on their signs.