Chiang Mai’s dining scene is anything but boring. Often blending traditional Northern Thai cuisine with Burmese and Laotian influences, the city is also all grown up in the modern fare department. In fact, one of Chiang Mai‘s best restaurants has been lauded (for several years running now) as the best in the country. And vegans? We got ya.
Blackitch Artisan Kitchen
What’s Cooking: Get in touch well in advance to book the Chef’s table at Chef Black’s teeny tiny outpost if he’s not already booked catering to Chiang Mai’s elite. A night at Blackitch is more like having your best friend have you round for dinner, so long as your best friend serves up Michelin-worthy grub without breaking a sweat.
Rustic & Blue
What’s Cooking: If you’ve ever had that fantasy of dining at an outdoor long table underneath hundreds of strung up fairy lights (it can’t only be us) it might be worth your while to keep an eye on Rustic & Blue. Their Instagram drool-worthy outdoor dinners are a huge hit and are happening more and more frequently (you just missed Valentines Day). That isn’t to say a meal here isn’t worth it if you don’t happen to luck out (or plan your trip accordingly). With a farm-to-table philosophy, expect organic, fresh, and local deliciousness.
What’s Cooking: The name may be like remembering your old high-school locker combination, but this little kooky cafe attached to the Seescape Gallery is a must for any 60’s space-age architecture lover, coffee aficionado, or those happy to listen to a little jazz with their healthy lunch before La La Land made it cool. It looks great in photos too, so there’s that.
The Larder Cafe & Bar
What’s Cooking: This is your breakfast go-see. It’s always busy, it’s always delicious, it’s got a mean cuppa joe. With super fresh local ingredients, an eclectic menu that accommodates both health nuts and hangovers, The Larder will make you a repeat offender guaranteed.
Free Bird Cafe
What’s Cooking: Free Bird is more than just a restaurant, and one who’s philosophy and philanthropy we can get behind. Attached to the Thai Freedom House, Free Bird helps support the non-government, not-for-profit, community language and arts learning centre that assists refugees from Burma and Indigenous Thai people. At Free Bird, all profits go directly to the centre’s work. It’s a lunch or brekkie spot, it’s vegan heavy, and you shouldn’t miss trying the Burmese Tea Leaf salad.
The Service 1921
What’s Cooking: Get regal and make a trip to the Anantara if you aren’t already staying there. The former British Consulate of Chiang Mai, which opened it’s doors in 1921, has been reimagined as paying homage to the secret service of the era. Giving us Daniel Craig and Dame Judy Dench vibes, the restaurant actually pulls off the vintage spy thing though without being cheesy. From peep-hole welcomes, secret dining areas accessed through bookcases, an inventive cocktail list, and that old-world charm courtesy of a pre-world war colonial legacy, if there was ever a location to host a murder-mystery dinner party, we’d kill to play Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick at The Service 1921.
What’s Cooking: Vegan! That’s all. Located within easy walking distance of other vegan/veggie favourites Dada Cafe and Taste of Heaven, stopping in at Juicy4U will see you at the epicentre of Chiang Mai’s health-conscious and slightly hippie scene. Even the carnivorous might think twice though after trying their tasty grub.
What’s Cooking: It wouldn’t be a trip to Chiang Mai without booking yourself a dinner at David’s Kitchen. Formerly known as David’s Kitchen 909, it has now moved to the outskirts of town and dropped the numerals. Voted the best restaurant in Thailand several years running as well as a nod as top in the country from Thailand Tatler, David’s Kitchen is without a doubt Chiang Mai’s best restaurant. It’s not just the fine French/Thai food however that make it numero uno, but that extra mile David, Prom, Chef O and the entire service team put forth in the hospitality department. From David personally greeting you upon arrival, a name card welcoming you to your table, and a follow up email thanking you for your visit, David’s Kitchen manages to make an exquisite dinner feel homey and personable.
Bonus: Drinks at We Didn’t Land on the Moon Since 1987
What’s Shaking: This bare-bones bar is like partying in your garage if your garage was taken over by an all-girl indie-rock band. Wait a sec…at We Didn’t Land on the Moon Since 1987, such is actually the case. Owned by members of Itchy Band — Chiang Mai’s only all-female post-punk-rockers — this quasi-dive bar is the place to be if you like your music indie, sometimes loud, or want to catch a one-off 90’s night. It’s kind of where the cool kids go, and definitely makes Chiang Mai feel a little bit like a tropical Williamsburg.
Update: We Didn’t Land on the Moon Since 1987 is closed for the time being, but will be back in business soon.
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