Everyone can cook amazing food in Northern Thailand, or at least that’s how it seems, meal after meal, enjoying pretty much every dish we order regardless of where we eat in Chiang Mai. Whether it was from a street vendor, a food court, or a nice sit-down restaurant on a busy tourist street we would always be served a meal worth noting, and because of that, trying to find the best places to eat in Chaing Mai is a tough task… so we are going to show you our favorite places to eat in Chiang Mai.
Even the time we rolled up to the seediest looking of street vendors, because we were absolutely starving, and found flying ants (flants) in our soup. We may have stopped eating after we found the 5th flant but it was still pretty darn good soup!
So what does one do, and where does one go ? when the options are absolutely endless and you are presented with a veritable smorgasbord of food choices?
We stayed in Chiang Mai for the better part of a month and while that doesn’t give us nearly enough time to visit even a fraction of the places to eat, we definitely managed to try quite a few. We’ve narrowed down five of our top places to eat in Chiang Mai, each offering a different dining experience or fare.
Places To Eat in Chaing Mai:
Best Thai Restaurant In Chiang Mai – Suwee
Suwee haunts our dreams. Not that we admit to dreaming about food that often, but when we do, it’s generally this restaurant that takes the stage. Not only is Suwee the best Thai restaurant in Chiang Mai but it’s safe to say it’s our favorite restaurant in the world, no other Thai restaurant can or will compare. South of the main city, located in Hang Dong, Suwee restaurant is a typical plastic chair, plastic table cloth, local restaurant. The food however, is anything but typical. Formerly a chef for a hotel in Chiang Mai, the owner decided to venture out on his own and open up Suwee restaurant with his wife – and boy are we glad he did!
We stayed the majority of the time at an Airbnb guesthouse around the corner from Suwee and as such, were able to frequent the restaurant to our hearts content. We should note that even when we stayed clear on the other side of the city, we still made the long and arduous drive for a meal when we could.
We ended up trying almost every Thai dish on their menu and were unable to find fault with a single one. Our favourites were the cashew nut chicken and the fried kale and crispy pork (for only about 50-90 baht per dish and each dish is easily shareable between two people!), but virtually any choice will leave you satisfied and thinking about when you’ll next be able to visit. We were hesitant to write about this secret gem as we were concerned about an influx of tourists but really, we can’t keep this one to ourselves – it’s too good not to share! It’s the best food in Chiang Mai!
As this is a local, plastic chair restaurant, their presence online is pretty much non-existent. Instead of a site, we’ve provided a dropped pin on Google maps, that will allow you to get right to the restaurant!
Best Coffee Shop In Chiang Mai with culinary masterpieces – Namton’s House Bar
We’ve already written about Namton’s in our post on the top five places to find good coffee in northern Thailand, but it really is such a great place to eat that we couldn’t miss adding it to this list!
While staying at the Swiss Lanna Lodge in Chiang Mai, we found ourselves in another part of town and without any clue where to find the best places to eat in Chiang Mai. One of the staff members at Swiss Lanna recommended Namton’s, down the road and we decided to try it out one night for dinner.
The food was spectacular and the self-taught chef created some culinary masterpieces at incredibly reasonable prices. From their salmon sashimi salad to their roast teriyaki chicken and wedge potatoes, it’s a place you will not only remember, but will be looking to go back again, and to us it has the best coffee in Chiang Mai!
How To Get To Namton’s House Bar: Check out the map on this unofficial Namton’s House Bar Facebook page for location and directions.
Bar And Food In Chiang Mai Old Town- Tiger Kingdom, In Town
When it comes to looking where to eat in Chiang Mai, we generally avoid tourist locations, especially restaurants, unless they come highly recommended. We prefer local atmosphere, food and, let’s be honest, prices and we enjoy immersing ourselves in a culture rather than finding the typical hangouts for foreigners.
We made the exception for Tiger Kingdom In Town. Not to be confused with the actual Tiger Kingdom filled where visitors can pet the large felines, In Town came recommended and we liked it so much we ended up going back for drinks later during our time in Chiang Mai.
The food is good Thai-style cuisine at relatively inexpensive prices, especially for a tourist locale. There is also a great selection of beer and drinks and with live music and a consistent crowd, it’s a great place to hangout with fellow expats and tourists, and since it’s in such a great location in the middle of Chiang Mai old city, it has some great Chiang Mai night life, with live entertainment almost every night.
How To Get To Tiger Kingdom In Town: Check out the map on this unofficial Tiger Kingdom In Town Facebook page for location and directions
A great change of pace – SP Chicken
While it is tucked away from the main activity in Chiang Mai’s old city, SP chicken is definitely worth a visit. Serving some delicious rotisserie chicken which you can watch being cooked on a spit in the front of the restaurant, this was a welcome change to the typical fare we had been eating.
The meal came almost as soon as we had ordered and the chicken was perfectly cooked and seasoned, with some great Thai dishes for sides.
The prices are incredibly reasonable and it is a talked-about favourite among locals and tourists. Careful though, there are several different “SP Chickens”, or look-a-likes, and it’s the original you’ll want to try first!
How To Get To SP Chicken: Check out the map on SP Chicken’s TripAdvisor Page for location and directions.
A Thai cultural experience – Street vendors & markets
Probably some of the best priced, tastiest food you’ll enjoy in Thailand will be found right on the streets. From meat skewers to soup, bugs to pancakes, you’ll find an assortment of different dishes served along the side of the city’s streets and, especially, at the night markets.
Markets will allow you to try a little bit of ‘this and that’, while vendors serving soups and other sit-down style dishes offer delicious local meals at incredibly low prices.
You’ll be able to experience an interesting aspect of Thai culture and tourism in Thailand, walking the stalls of merchandise and watching the buskers in the street while eating or sitting down with locals at a street stand and dining on some of the best roadside food you’ll ever have.
Words of caution: look for stalls and vendors that seem busy and, particularly, where locals can be found. If you stick to this, you’ll most likely avoid any ‘flant-in-soup’ issues!
How To Find Street Vendors/Night Markets: Night markets are much everywhere in Chiang Mai!! Some great markets to check out would be the Warorot Market, the Sunday Night Market and, if you are in the area, Hang Dong’s Night Market (held once a week).
Have you been to Chiang Mai? Comment below and let us know where your favourite place to eat was!
If not, let us know how you usually find good restaurants to eat at while travelling to new places.
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