Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Chiang Mai Food Guide: The best restaurants and cafes in Chiang Mai


I first heard about Chiang Mai from a chef friend of mine who revealed that he gets a lot of his fresh ingredients from Chiang Mai, a northern city of Thailand. Besides that Chiang Mai is regarded as a hipster city, a popular spot for cafes and chillaxing. Of course – Chiang Mai is famous for the good Northern Thai cuisine that is different from what you see in Bangkok. This guide will take you to the best restaurants and best cafes in Chiang Mai.

Where to stay?


There are a few areas to consider when picking where to stay. Generally I would stay either in Old City area or Nimman area. The Old City is a lovely place to walk around early in the morning to get a feel of the walled up old city – near many Chiang Mai eateries while Nimman in general is more hip and modern, with numerous cafes and also a big Maya lifestyle mall, as well as where the happening night life and my favourite Warm Up Cafe is situated. If you don’t mind staying in a quieter area – anywhere near the riverside is fine since taking a Grab Car to the Old City is around 40-60 baht, to Nimman round 80 – 120 baht. If you love cafes and partying – Nimman is the area for you – since it is near most of the popular chillax spots and clubs, and 60-80 baht Grab Car ride to the Old City.

Getting Around in Chiang Mai


I am all for supporting the local economy but numerous first hand experience from friends using the local red taxis and tuk tuk have been terrible and not recommended. It is best to use Grab app when you are in Chiang Mai – especially from the airport. We tried to use Uber but there’s a surcharge for airport pick ups so Grab is my choice for getting around at the moment. Points to note – try not to get a Grab car near places where there are lots of tuk tuk and red taxis hanging around  as they are very anti-uber or anti-grab. I’ve seen local tuk tuk drivers getting angry when they see tourists being picked up by Grab or Uber drivers. For the food locations – Google Maps will be your best friend in helping you plot your food hunt in Chiang Mai. All the restaurants and cafes here can be found by just typing the name on Google Maps.


Renting a motorbike or bicycle is also a good way to get around if you are adventurous ~~~

Best Restaurants in Chiang Mai

Khao Soi Khun Yai


One of the must try items in Chiang Mai is the famous Khao Soi – which some can say is Thailand’s answer to Laksa in Malaysia. What I like about Khao Soi Khun Yai is the combination of two types of noodles: crispy fried and bouncy flat noodles soaking in a lovely gravy. Khao Soi Khun Yai is the most famous Khao Soi in Chiang Mai.


Khao Soi Khun Yai (also known as Grandma’s Khao Soi) is easy to spot – right in between two temples and just walk in through a rusty gate. Notice that the opening hours are pretty short and they sell out pretty fast! For me – I was there right at 10am sharp to be one of the first to eat here! Worth it!

Khao Soi Khun Yai

Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 10am – 2pm Closes on Sundays.

Khao Soi Mae Sai


Khao Soi Mae Sai is my favourite Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, since it has the richest tasting broth packed with flavour! It might not have as much crispy crunch as Khun Yai but wins it overall for the strong bold flavours of the broth. They are very tourist friendly and have English menus to help you with ordering! The good part is that you can have a few different types of Chiang Mai specialties in this restaurant alone!


One taste of this and you will be hooked! My favourite Khao Soi in Chiang Mai ~~


Khanom Jeen is another dish that’s worth trying here – basically it’s rice vermicelli noodles served with curry broth and boiled chicken blood cubes. Seriously yummy!


You also must try the Kao Ngiao here – rice mixed with minced pork, spices and pigs blood, wrapped with banana leaves and steamed. I really enjoyed this simple dish and wished I could bring this back home. So good!

Khao Soi Mae Sai

29/1 Ratchaphuek Alley, ตำบล ช้างเผือก Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand

Opens 8am – 4pm Closes on Sunday

Khao Soi Islam – Halal Khao Soi


Right in the Islamic (Halal) street in town near a mosque built by Chinese Muslim Settlers ~ you will find Khao Soi Islam specializing in halal Khao Soi. In my opinion, it’s not bad but it is not as good as Khun Yai or Mae Sai’s – I’m recommending it specially for my Muslim readers. This will be a good place to have other Thai halal dishes! There will also be 4-6 other halal restaurants in this area.

Khao Soi Islam

Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opens: 8am to 5pm.

SP Chicken: Chiang Mai’s most famous grilled chicken


I was surprised to hear that Chiang Mai is famous for its grilled chicken and the most famous one is called SP Chicken. You will see rows of rotisserie chicken grilled using charcoal fire right outside the restaurant.


Mmmm the famous SP Chicken ~~ it’s pretty good but I have to say there’s another place in Chiang Mai that I prefer – I will introduce that as well ~~


You can also try other popular Isaan dishes such as this chicken liver salad which was pretty good!


Grab your tom yum gong fix here too ~~~

SP Chicken

Samlan Rd Soi 1, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 10am – 5pm

Cherng Doi Roast Chicken


I’ll have to say when it comes to grilled chicken – nobody does it better than Cherng Doi, even the famous SP Chicken will have to kow tow to them. The grilled chicken here has crispier skin, has stronger smoky flavours and is moist in comparison to SP Chicken.


One bite and you will seriously be hooked! Seriously one of the best chicken I’ve tasted!


Be sure to enjoy the other side dishes here! Very good as well. Notice that the dishes are small portions so you can order a few to try!


Their iced thai tea is simply da bomb!!


If you are in Chiang Mai – make Cherng Doi your must eat destination! Do note their opening hours!

Cherng Doi Roast Chicken

Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 11am – 10 pm, Close on Monday and Friday.

Tong Tem Toh – Northern Thai cuisine


If you want to enjoy Northern Thai Cuisine – look no further than Tong Tem Toh, which happens to be my favourite Northern Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai.


Be sure to enjoy the famous fermented pork and pork curry ~~ good authentic Northern Thai Cuisine!


Oh my pork belly goodness!!


Mmmm pork crackling ~~~


Northern Chiang Mai Sausage ~ Sai Ua ~~ nom nom ~~~


The queue will be pretty long during lunch time but I managed to beat the crowd by coming at 7:30am ~~ I know having spicy food so early in the morning can be crazy but the food is worth waking up early for! Though those who aren’t used to heavy breakfast should come in the off peak hours as Tong Tem Toh is very popular!

Tong Tem Toh

Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 7am – 9pm

Huen Phen – Northern Thai Cuisine


Huen Phen comes recommended by locals for good authentic Northern Thai Cuisine too. They have quite a lot of Nothern Thai Curries to choose from and you might get overwhelmed by the choice when looking at the menu!


Quite an exotic array of soups as well ~~ For me – I felt the food here is more to the greasier side and some might love it but I would prefer Tong Tem Toh overall, still Huen Phen offers more variety in the menu so it’s worth a try too!


You gotta love long beans and pork crackling salad ~~~


They do have quite refreshing pomelo salad to balance with the greasy food ~~


What impressed me was this meat stuffed bamboo ~~ deep fried and looks like fried chicken drumsticks! Really yummy!

Huen Phen

112 Ratchamanka Rd, Tambon Phra Sing, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 8:30am – 4pm, 5pm – 10pm

Yok Fa Noodles


Yok Fa Noodles comes highly recommended from a dear foodie friend Zech, and I am glad I listened to his advice as this place serves some of the best ratna and noodles I’ve tasted!


Stir fried saucy crispy noodles with pork and omelet ~~ sooo goood!


Oh my Ratna ~~ this is like stir fried kway teow Thai style but seriously good!


This is like wa tan hor ~~ but the noodles have a lovely texture. Highly recommended to eat here! We love this place so much – we had double of every dish!!

Yok Fa Noodles

196/5/1 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Lert Ros Grilled Fish and Claypot Soups


If you love grilled fish ~ Lert Ros is famous for their charcoal grilled fish and seafood – as well as claypot tom yam and soups!


Mmm ~~ charcoal grilled seafood ~~~


Enjoy the fish with their gorgeous spicy dip! Rawr!!!


Claypot tom yum soup ~~ ooooh yeshh ~~~


Ribs soup or Tom Yum Soup ~ mmmmm ~~ we ordered both! LOL


They have grilled fermented pork too ~~ oh yeshhh!!


Lert Ros

Rachadumneon road. Soi 1 Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opens: 12pm – 9pm

Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak – Cowboy Hat Lady’s Pork Leg Stew ~~


The famous Cowboy Hat Lady’s pork leg stew is one of the must try in Chiang Mai ~~ located at one of the popular night market with other stalls but this is the most popular one.


The eggs are actually perfectly cooked to have custardy yolks – which goes superbly well with the soft tender pork leg stew rice! I also ordered pork intestines as a side dish!


Selfie with the living legend of street food in Chiang Mai ~~ Fong Fei Fei according to the signboard! HAHA!

Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak – Cowboy Hat Lady’s Pork Leg Stew ~~

Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200

Opens: 5pm – 12pm

Rod Yiam Beef Noodles


Rod Yiam beef noodles has been around for around 60 years in Chiang Mai and they now sell a host of other dishes with English menu to cater to their popularity as they are featured in many guides. The main dish here is of course their gorgeous beef noodles in a gorgeous beef bone broth!


Wooooo ~~ a pot of slow simmering beef waiting to be scooped onto bowls of noodles!


I ordered a pot of beef tendon and beef brisket as they are the best bits of deliciousness in your typical beef soup noodles!


Slurpalicious noodles can be enjoyed with rose milk tea ~~ mmmm ~~


my bro Ronnie loves tom yum so he would order anything with tom yum in it ~~~ here’s their seafood tomyum noodle if you fancy ~~ they also have hot pot here if you come in a big group ~~ its something nice to have!

Rod Yiam Beef Noodles

26 Soi 11, Nimmanhaemin Road

Opens 9am – 8pm

David’s Kitchen – Best Restaurant in Asia (Tripadvisor)


I normally don’t read much into Tripadvisor reviews but for a restaurant to be ranked as number 1 in Asia for Tripadvisor awards is a sure sign that it’s a good restaurant. I have to say everything from making a reservation, ambience, service and food, value for money was top notch at David’s Kitchen. I would put it as the must visit restaurant in Chiang Mai. We had a really good time here and even took picture with the chefs in the kitchen! One of my biggest regret was not bringing my full camera gear to shoot the pictures of the food!


The wine they recommended really matched the food well for the night


One of the best pumpkin soup I’ve tasted. Both Ronnie and Jason were amazed at how a soup can be this good! Veloute of Japanese Sweet Pumpkin soup with white truffle foam and crispy pumpkin ~~ the breads were amazing dipped with the soup – wished we ordered double portion of this!


Lightly seared Tuna with lemongrass and green mango salad ~


Escargots ~~ nyums!


Foie gras with thai mango and figs was quite an unusual combination but worked well!


Prawn Ravioli in lobster cream sauce ~~ *drools*


Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks in red wine sauce and very good mash! Thumbs up!


Roast pork tenderloin with lovely cherry sauce  ~~~


The Cinnamon Panna cotta, strawberry jelly with chocolate crumble and passion fruit lava was beautifully presented, while achieving a good balance of tart and sweetness.


Their Sticky Toffee Pudding was amazing as well ~~ we were genuinely impressed with how simple it looked in comparison to other desserts but this was our favourite!

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-09 at 6.08.40 PM

My dear friend Sherina and her gals also enjoyed David’s Kitchen very much!

David’s Kitchen

113 Bumrungrad Road, Wat Kate,, Mueang Chiang Mai District, 50000, Thailand

Opens 5pm – 10pm. Closes on Sunday Be sure to make an early reservation online!

Best Cafes in Chiang Mai

Larder Cafe and Bar


The Larder Cafe and Bar is very popular for having good coffee and beautiful open face sandwiches for breakfast. It is a very good place to start your day as it’s one of those that open as early as 8:30am.


Oh you delicious melted cheese and ham open faced sandwich!


Beautiful scones to help you start your day ~


Ooo my raspberry muffin goodness!

Larder Cafe and Bar

3/9, Sukkasame Rd, Suthep, Chiangmai, 50200, Thailand

Opens 8:30am to 3pm

Ristr8to LAB


When it comes to coffee, it’s hard to beat Ristr8to LAB for their amount of choices and exciting ways to serve coffee.


Ahhhh good morning world! I love the unique names  and descriptions with coffee strength and flavour profiles to help you make your choices!


This gave me a good laugh as well!


Love their skull coffee glasses ~~~

Ristr8to LAB

14 Nimmanhaemin rd. soi3, Suthep, Muang, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 8:30am – 7:00 pm. Closes on Tuesdays

Fahtara Coffee


Fahtara coffee is a beautiful cafe where you can take lots of great OOTD shots! It’s located just right next to the famous Fah Lanna Spa, so you can have coffee here before or after your awesome pampering spa session ~~


My friend Ronnie had a good time posing at the cafe! LOL!


A great place for coffee and you indirectly contribute to the community as well as they help support local farmers and their children.

Fahtara Coffee

Wiang Kaew Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 8am – 9pm

Kalapela Tea Room


Kalapela Tea Room comes highly recommended by my bestie Sim Yuan for their Mango Sticky Rice Croissant and great place for TEA!


They stock good quality teas here so be sure to ask the boss who has worked In Japan before for many years before opening this lovely tea house!


Gorgeous croissant with sticky rice, fresh Thai mangoes, mango ice cream and whipped cream ~~ oooh myyyyy gawddd!!


We ordered the chocolate tea which has a good hint of chocolate naturally ~~ Ronnie here enjoying their epic croissant ~~


Be sure to check out their back garden for OOTD opportunities!!


Kalapela Tea Room

50200, 141/6 Rachadamnoen Rd, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 10am – 11pm (they serve sushi at night!)

Rustic and Blue


Rustic and Blue showcases a farm to table concept – where most of the food and drinks comes from their farm to your table. Some of the freshest ingredients you can find! A very progressive hipster foodie’s paradise!


Gorgeous indoor and outdoor ambience to chillax!


The food here is food porn at its best! You definitely felt that your must IG this before you eat!


Did someone say Chicken and Waffles? Say hello to Thai inspired fried chicken and waffles with Thai Basil, spices and sauce! oooohhhhhh yasss!


Rustic and Blue

Nimmana Haeminda Rd Lane 7, Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens 8:30 am – 9:30 pm

Nine One Coffee


Another lovely place to have coffee is Nine One Coffee ~~ lovely ambience to read a book while enjoying coffee ~~


Digital Nomads spot ~~


Focus focus ~~~


Try out their unique Nine One Coffee which uses coconut milk ~~ very very tropical!


Sorry ~~ my coffee is cooler than yours ~~~

Nine One Coffee

Nimmana Haeminda Rd Lane 11, Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 8:30 am – 9:30pm

Gallery Seescape and SS1254372 Cafe


Gallery Seescape and SS1254372 Cafe combines the love of art with love of food. I was pretty skeptical about the coffee and the food initially as I thought the main focus of the cafe would be artistic theme but boy I was wrong ~~ the food here is pretty good but the coffee is just acceptable in comparison.


Art buffs will love to take their OOTDs here ~~ but I’m more of a food person so here’s pics of the food ~~


Beautiful fruit and muesli smoothie bowl ~~ your colon will be smiling ~ hahaha ~~ progressive hipster smoothie bowl ~~


French toast with fresh fruits ~~ you gotta say the food is an art form too!

Gallery Seescape and SS1254372 Cafe

22/1 Nimmanhemin 22/1 ถนน นิมมาน เห มิ น ซอย 17, อำเภอ เมือง จังหวัด เชียงใหม่ Road, Suthep, Muang, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 8am – 8pm. Closes on Monday

Nakara Jardin Bistro & Salon


Nakara Jardin Bistro & Salon is a posh garden riverside place for desserts and high tea ~~ you will love the ambience as well as the high tea set here!


Beautiful food and great ambience is bound to put a smile on your face!



A romantic or girly time together ~~ but who says only girls can have fun at high tea?!


A lovely combination of posh natural setting that makes this a great place to come during tea time ~~~ *swoons*

Nakara Jardin Bistro & Salon

11 Soi 9, Charoenprathet Rd.,, T.Changklan, A.Mueng, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opens 11am – 7pm Close on Wednesdays

Woo Cafe-Art Gallery-Lifestyle Shop


A 3 in 1 Cafe that combines coffee food, art gallery and lifestyle shop but I’ll say its also kinda like a flower garden cafe too. Very good ambience and packed when we got here!


OOTD potential is high here ~~ and there’s an art gallery upstairs!


Food wise is a mixture of Thai and Western fusion dishes to go with your coffee. I didn’t really try the food here but from reviews and the big crowd here I’ll say you should give it a try!

Woo Cafe-Art Gallery-Lifestyle Shop

80 Charoenrat Road, Watgate, MuangChiangmai, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand

Opens 10am – 10pm

Asama Cafe


Asama Cafe is a little bit out of the way but perfect if you want to have breakfast before going to the famous Grand Canyon in Chiang Mai. It has lovely riverside views and serves great coffee and cakes!


Coffee and cakes are as good as the river view here ~~~


Hello mother nature ~~~ *sips coffee*

Asama Cafe

Mu Ban Chiang Mai Lake Land Alley, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 8am – 4pm

Starbucks Kad Farang


I normally don’t frequent Starbucks franchises during my travels but the Starbucks Coffee at Kad Farang village is one of a kind! It’s also on the way to the Grand Canyon so it’s quite a good pit stop on the way back!


Wished I brought my wide angle lenses with me to show you the look and feel of the place ~~ OOTD worthy at one of the most beautiful Starbucks Coffee branch in Thailand!

Starbucks Kad Farang

Ban Waen, Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai 50230, Thailand

Opens: 7am – 9pm

Overstand Coffee


Overstand coffee is a good brunch place for good coffee, sandwiches and breakfast pizzas ~~~


Lovely breakfast pizza ~~ *drools*


Pulled beef brisket sandwiches, pizza and coffee for brunch? Yes please!

Overstand Coffee

19/3, Ratchamanka Road Soi 2, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand

Opens: 8am – 3:30pm

Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden


Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden is a lovely place for the unique ambience but be wary of mosquitos early in the morning. We were amazed by the view outside but decided to shift inside after being a temporary buffet spread for the mozzies ~~


A very pretty place to enjoy clay sculptures ~


Food is very simple and down to earth here in comparison to others ~~


Clay Studio Coffee in the Garden

36 Prapokkloa Rd, Tambon Phra Sing, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Opens: 8am – 6pm

Akha Ama Coffee


If you want to get a taste of local Chiang Mai coffee, look no further than Akha Ama coffee. They have quite a few branches in Chiang Mai and for me – has some of the most affordable coffee beans to take home. For some, they might regard Chiang Mai as a good place for fourth wave coffee, where roasters and farmers have good relationships to bring the coffee culture to coffee lovers!


The Cold Brew is lovely here ~~


My bros had so much fun enjoying the great coffee culture at Akha Ama ~~


Grab some bags of beans home for your own coffee ~~ bring a bit of Chiang Mai home ~~

Akha Ama

9/1 Mata Apartment, Hassadhisawee Rd, Soi 3, ถ.หัสดิเสวี ซอย 3, Changphuak, Muang ช้างเผือก, เมือง, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand

Opens: 8am to 6pm Closes on Wednesdays. Note they have other branches in Chiang Mai – google map your nearest branch!

Ponganes Coffee Roaster


Ponganes is one of the most serious coffee roaster in Chiang Mai and you are sure to get an authentic fourth wave coffee experience here where they bring you the best of Loas and Chiang Mai farmed coffee beans!


I was very lucky to try out a very good Chiang Mai coffee beans sourced from a local farmer where they don’t use much machinery to process the coffee berries. The taste was seriously epic in comparison to some of the coffees I’ve tasted but unfortunately it’s not available in large quantities so I can’t buy the beans home ~~ the good news is – you can have it within the cafe IF there is still stock left (they tell me that these don’t last very long as throngs of coffee lovers will come over for them)


They don’t have food on the menu as this is purely a coffee enthusiast’s cafe but it is worth the trip!

Ponganes Coffee Roasters

133/, 204/5 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Mueang Chiang Mai District, 50200, Thailand

Opens: 10am – 4:30pm Closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays


I hope my guide to eating and cafe hopping in Chiang Mai has helped you in your research for the most yummy journey in Chiang Mai! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and check out my other food travel guides in major cities in Asia!

Don’t forget to

Follow @Thanislim on Instagram


For the latest news on travel and dining scene in Asia – Please follow my Instagram account @thanislim

It would be great if you can follow me @thanislim on instagram where I post micro updates of my food adventures on a daily basis! Catch the latest food updates with me via social media!

Be sure to read my other food guides in my travel guides section


The (1)

Hanoi Food Guide_thumb[2]

brunch places[4]

brunch places (2)[4]

No comments

No comments :

Post a Comment