If you are looking for some great restaurants in Chiang Mai, you should arm yourself with patience… This is the largest city in Northern Thailand (part of the Mueang Chiang Mai District) and offers countless delicious options for foodies (phad thai, yuuuummm!)!
To save you some precious time, I wrote this post about the best restaurants in Chiang Mai, and divided by the 2 main areas in Chiang Mai: the Old City – where most tourists stay, and the trendy Nimmanhaemin – super popular among digital nomads so you can easily choose something delicious and close to you.
I have lived in Chiang Mai and kept coming back numerous times, and I absolutely love tasting all the top restaurants around! So here you’ll find options for any taste, whether it be Chiang Mai restaurants serving northern Thai cuisine, (like the traditional Khao Soi), international places, cool cafes to work from and more. I also included some practical info about must-try foods in Chiang Mai, food tours and the top food delivery apps.
P.S: Prices for almost all the restaurants here are in the mid-range ($$), which corresponds to about $10 for a meal, but you’ll also find many cheap and local restaurants as well as some fancy places on this list too!
Ready to go on a journey through the best food and restaurants in Chiang Mai? Let’s go!
If you are in a hurry
Here is a quick summary of the best Chiang Mai restaurants divided by category:
- Khao Soi Khun Yai – for the best khao soi
- Tong Tem Toh – cheapest restaurant
- Sunday Night Market – the coolest market
- CAMP – best cafe to work from
1. Best Chiang Mai restaurants in the Old City
Chiang Mai Old City is where the majority of Chiang Mai tourist attractions are located. As usual, that also means it hosts most of the restaurants serving local cuisine. If you love Thai food, here is where you’ll find it!
So let’s check out the best Chiang Mai restaurants in the Old City, one of the best areas where to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for tourists:
Blue Diamond – for the best organic breakfast
Blue Diamond ($$)
If you love starting your day with a good breakfast, this is the place for you, featuring a super nice inside courtyard with a small fish pond. Here they accommodate literally any food request, from veggie to vegan and gluten-free (they produce their own gluten-free bread and cookies). They have a huuge menu that looks like a book, and you can order literally anything from that. If you’re undecided, start with a vegan cinnamon roll, it’s just delicious!
Khao Soi Khun Yai – for traditional northern Thai food
This small, open-air place is definitely one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai, Thailand, if you want to try traditional northern Thai food! In fact, here they serve the best bowls of khao soi in Chiang Mai (check out the bonus of must-try food in Chiang Mai to know what Khao Soi is) and an extremely flavorful curry, packed with spices that can be served with pickled mustard greens, extra roasted chilies, and red onions. If you like spicy food, you will love that!
Fruit Plus+ Cafe – for a fresh breakfast
Fruit Plus+ Cafe ($$)
If you want to have a healthy breakfast or lunch, this is definitely the place to be, serving very delicious food, from fruit yogurt and acai bowls to fresh smoothies, avocado toasts, eggs, and much more… all in big portions! The Wi-Fi also works great, which makes this restaurant one of few places in Old Chiang Mai city where to work (if you want to see more, check out section 3!).
Khun Kae’s Juice & Smoothie Bar – for the best smoothies
If you want to have a break while visiting the attractions of Old Chiang Mai, stop in this juice bar to have a refreshing, healthy and delicious smoothie made of fresh fruit! Here you can also get normal juices, protein shakes, smoothie and yogurt bowls, energy shots, fruit plates, and more. Another plus? The staff is super friendly and will make you feel immediately welcomed!
Fried Chicken Lady Street Cart – for the best street food
If you love fried chicken, you’ll be happy to know that Thailand makes some of the best fried chicken in the world, and in Chiang Mai you will find it at this food stand on Mun Mueang Road, on the left side of Aroy Dee restaurant. You’ll recognize it from the long line of taxi drivers and people in front of the cart, and when you try it, you will understand why they were cueing. Just incredible!!
Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center – for dinner with a show
Have you ever had a khantoke dinner or lunch, during which you enjoy northern Thai dishes while gazing at traditional Thai Lanna dances? Then you have to go to the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center, where you can attend cool shows on any day of the week while eating delicious dishes like Burmese pork curry, minced pork in tomato-chili paste, fried pork and more… an unforgettable experience!
By Hand Pizza Cafe – for the best pizza
By Hand Pizza Cafe ($$)
It’s always time for a good pizza, right? If you agree with me, you need to check out this amazing restaurant in Chiang Mai Old City, serving delicious pizzas baked in a wooden oven (try the Hawaiian one, it is definitely a must in Thailand!). NOTE: The restaurant is open only for dinner and it is always full, especially at peak time around 8.30 pm, so make sure you book in advance if you want to find a spot. Also, prices are a little higher than average, but they are definitely worth it!
Fahtara coffee – the best coffee shop
Fahtara coffee ($$)
If you want to have a really good coffee in a tranquil environment, this cafe is located in a tiny street hidden from the crowds and it is just lovely! They have indoor and outdoor seating and apart from drinks, they also serve delicious Thai food like papaya salads and Pad Thai or cakes and baked goods… you will love it!
Huen Phen – large portions for cheap prices
Huen Phen ($)
If you want to have very big portions of delicious northern Thai food (or Lanna cuisine) for cheap prices, this is definitely one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai Old City! Here some must-trys are the amazing Khao Soi, served with sticky rice or rice noodles with veggies or meat, or the jackfruit salad (just incredible!). The restaurant has a super convenient location in the middle of the Old City, south of the Wat Chedi Luang temple.
Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak – for the most delicious meat dishes
The Khao Kha Moo stall actually sits right outside the border of Chiang Mai Old City but it is one of the most popular restaurants in the city for meat lovers, so I had to include it in this list! Here they serve slow-stewed pork leg cooked in a Thai-style sweet sauce, served on a plate of steamed rice with a medium-boiled egg: it is so delicious and fall-apart tender that you won’t believe it! Ps: You’ll recognize the Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak stall from the cowboy hat lady serving from a giant pan of pork ribs!
Suki Koka – for the best Thai suki
Suki Koka ($)
Located in the same area of food stalls as the Cowboy Hat Lady, this stall serves the BEST bowl of Thai suki ever: a dish consisting of vegetables cooked with rice noodles and a mix of seafood or meat of your choice, served wet or dry. This is a favorite among locals (you will find very few tourists) perfect if you want to have dinner in a traditional place with a vibrant vibe!
SP Chicken – the best roast chicken lunch
SP Chicken ($)
Located in the heart of old town Chiang Mai, this restaurant serves Isan dishes, but it specializes in grilled and roast chicken. You will recognize it from the roast chickens spinning on a vertical charcoal rotisserie at the front of the restaurant. They cook the chicken with garlic and lemongrass, which makes it so juicy and flavorful, you will fall in love with that!
NOTE: This place is open only for lunch, so if you want to have a delicious roast chicken for dinner (it will be an early dinner tho!) check out Cherng Doi Roast Chicken!
Dash – lots of variation and a great location
This resto-bar, is located in the middle of the action of Chiang Mai Old City, specifically on Moon Muang Road (just a short walk from Tha Pae Gate), which makes it the perfect place to recharge your energies after an evening walking tour. In fact, here they serve Thai and western dishes, both delicious, and many beers and drinks, perfect to enjoy while listening to a live band!
Ploen Ruedee Night Market – with the best atmosphere
Ploen Ruedee Night Market is one of the most trendy places to hang out at night in Old Chiang Mai, offering countless food stalls serving everything from Chiang Mai foods to Western dishes next to live music and dance floor! The atmosphere is very lively and vibrant, so it is also the perfect place to just grab a beer or a drink with your friends at night.
During the markets, these streets get filled with countless street food stalls selling all kinds of Thai food, from real pad Thai to the traditional Khao Soi, and the weirdest things like cockroaches or scorpions… Do you dare to try them?
P.S.: If you love street food, on Saturday and Sunday, there are 2 amazing night street markets happening on 2 different streets: Wua Lai Walking Street on Saturday and Tha Phae walking street on Sunday.
2. Best Chiang Mai restaurants in Nimmanhaemin
As I said in the beginning, Nimmanhaemin (also called Nimman) is the coolest and trendiest area in Chiang Mai, attracting a big community of digital nomads. It is located about 10 minutes by car from the Old Town and you definitely do not want to miss it, it is awesome!
Here you’ll find many international restaurants, but I also included some great local Thai places. Let’s check out the best Chiang Mai restaurants in Nimmanhaemin!
Healthy Junk – for healthy food
Healthy Junk ($$)
If one day you are tired of the heavy and spicy Thai food, this tiny place serves many healthy and nutritious dishes, from poke bowls (try the salmon one!) to big salads, delicious breakfasts, and smoothies. The environment is so clean and relaxed, and prices are a little higher than average, but, again, they are definitely worth it!
Smoothie blues – for the best egg dishes
Smoothie blues ($$)
If you love to start your day with a big plate of eggs, this is the place for you, serving tons of egg options (all delicious), and it is also one of the few restaurants in this Chiang Mai area that opens early (at 7.30 a.m!). My tip? Try the banana bacon french toast with fresh juice. Juices here are completely fresh without added sugar, quite rare to find in Thailand!
Larder Cafe – the best coffee shop
Larder Cafe ($$)
If you want to have one of the best coffees in Chiang Mai accompanied by even better food, you have to check out this amazing cafe. I came back 5 times just to have their simple scrambled egg with sourdough bread and tomatoes…simple and delicious! P.S.: Don’t mind the reviews, at one point there was apparently some scandal, but I assure you the food is good!
The Salad Concept – for a healthy meal
The Salad Concept ($$)
If like me, you’re a fan of big healthy salads, this is the best place in Chiang Mai for that. The restaurant interiors are lovely, and the food is healthy, fresh and tasty (as well as the juices and smoothies!). They have a very big menu, so you could have a hard time choosing… my tip? Have the papaya salad (spicy!), you can’t go wrong!
SS1254372 Cafe – a cool artsy cafe
SS1254372 Cafe ($$)
This is a unique artsy cafe with very innovative interiors and cool design, looking like an industrial bohemian spaceship! This place is perfect if you want to have a very good breakfast with fast service: the food is all fresh and tasty, and they put a lot of effort into the presentation!
Italics – the best Italian food
If you want to have some of the best Italian food in Chiang Mai in a fancy atmosphere, this is THE place to be. Here you can have incredible pizzas, gnocchi, burrata and more, accompanied by good-quality wine. Prices are higher than average, but still very reasonable – we spent US$60 for 3 people (without alcoholic drinks).
Office of Fish Omakase – the best sushi
Do you want to have the best sushi in the world… or at least one of the best ones? Then check out this restaurant, where the chef will explain to you all the incredible courses you will get (try the omakase!). The place is super small, hosting literally just 7 people, so it is perfect for an intimate dinner with your special one, but make sure to book a spot in advance!
Why Not? – a cozy Italian restaurant
Why Not? ($$)
This is another Italian restaurant (and wine bar) where you can have very good Italian food in a very cozy and casual atmosphere. The place is huge, and they have a super nice spacious patio full of green, perfect if you want to have a nice dinner outside, but make sure you book a table before visiting: the place gets quite crowded by night!
Tong Tem Toh – for the best northern Thai dishes
Tong Tem Toh ($)
If you want to eat some delicious northern Thai dishes, this restaurant serves the best food in this Chiang Mai area. It is a very local place (quite rare to find in Nimmanhaemin) serving affordable big portions of spicy traditional food. Again, you cannot go wrong with the traditional Khao Soi or with Gopchan if you love meat!
UPDATE: One Nimman – new place in town that you will surely love! It is a hipster street food/night market place with occasional live performances. It also has a food court and some super cool trendy boutiques. Seriously, do not miss this place – it is brand new and it located very close to Maya Mall (you will probably recognize it by a clock tower, you can see it from afar.
BONUS: Best cafes in Chiang Mai to work from
Chiang Mai has become super popular among digital nomads, who gather mostly around the Nimmanhaemin area.
That is why you will find countless cafes with high-speed Wi-Fi and/or coworking spaces around here! Feel free to spend the day getting some work done while you have a delicious coffee or dish – no one will kick you out!
Let’s check out the best ones here below, all located in Nimmanhaemin:
- Camp Cafe ($$) – Located on the top floor of the Maya mall, this is a creative space/ big library with a coffee shop where many local students come to study… The atmosphere is just perfect to concentrate (FUN FACT: I actually started this site right there!). To use the Wi-Fi, you just need to buy a coffee and you can stay there the whole day!
- Baristotel ($$) – This cafe is just amazing, with very minimalist decorations, good Wi-Fi, plug-ins, and creative coffee options (try the Black Coconut: fresh coconut juice with a shot of espresso!). My tip? Go to the floor upstairs to work, it is quieter and just great!
- Brown Cafe ($$) – This is definitely one of the best spots in Nimman to get some work done, focus, or just read a book in a very tranquil atmosphere. The cafe offers very comfy seats, a great menu with coffee, tea, and healthier bubble tea options, and is one of the few cafes open till 9 pm… perfect if you’re working with other time zones!
- Nine One Coffee ($$) – If you want to work with a big and delicious cup of coffee, this cafe is the place to be, serving some of the best coffee in Chiang Mai and offering a relaxing environment with bar seats for laptop workers, fast Wi-Fi and super friendly service!
- Wake Up WAKO Bake – This is the only cafe on the list which is not located in Nimmanhaemin, but in the back streets of Chiang Mai, and definitely one of the top places to work from in Chiang Mai. Why? Here you’ll find a garden with a few tables, meeting rooms, and a coworking space with air conditioning where you can hide from the heat!
- Food4thought ($$) – If you want to get some work done while having some good food, check out this lovely restaurant located a bit outside of Nimman: you will need to drive for 10 min or walk around 20 minutes but it is definitely worth it! Here you can have a fresh breakfast bowl and other international food options, like pasta and sandwiches.
- Taste Cafe ($) – This is one of the cheapest cafes in the Nimman Chiang Mai area, located close to Chiang Mai University so you will find lots of students, which gives the place a vibrant and cool vibe. The desks here are perfect to work with a pc and have many plugs in!
- Ombra Caffe ($) – Looking for a place with a cozy and comfy atmosphere, where you feel like you’re working from your home? Then stop here! This lovely cafe has reliable and fast Wi-Fi, it is very silent, and even offers free, sweet sticky rice for guests… How great is that?
- Passion Project Cafe & Creative Space ($$) – If you want to work in a place where you can stay the whole day, this cafe & coworking space is for you, serving some of the most delicious food in Chiang Mai (healthy breakfasts, smoothies, fruit bowls etc.) and features comfy sofas and seats.
- MeCafe de Oasis ($$) – If, like me, you love to work in the open-air, check out this great cafe and restaurant offering an outdoor seating area with a lot of green plants, creating a very tropical vibe. Here they have very good Wi-Fi, coffee, and meals options.. the pizza is to die for!
- Roast8ry Lab – This hipster-style cafe has the best coffee in Chiang Mai (the latte art is incredible, check out the pictures!) and a very creative atmosphere: the perfect place to focus and get some work done surrounded by other digital nomads.
- Yellow Coworking – if you are looking for an actual coworking, this is the one I can recommend! This is probably one of the best coworking spaces in Chiang Mai, I worked here many times and the vibe is super nice, the staff are so friendly and they offer many rooms: a private meeting room, a cafe, fully equipped studio to record your videos and even daybeds to take a nap. Day passes are $7 to enter but it is definitely worth it!
|🍽️ Dinner for 2 with wine:
|😋 Best Thai food:
|Khao Soi Khun Yai
|Not expected, 10% is great if you want
|🥩 Best meat restaurant:
|Khao Kha Moo
|☕ Best coffee:
|💻 Best cafe for work:
|Wake Up WAKO Bake
|🍜 Must try food:
Practical info about food in Chiang Mai
Food delivery services in Chiang Mai, Thailand
If during your holiday in Chiang Mai, you have one of those days when you don’t feel like going out and you just want to order food to eat from the comfort of your sofa/bed, the following food delivery app will save your life:
I personally prefer FoodPanda simply because of the convenience of the language. While Grab has an automatic translation within the app, when you click to look at the actual menus it is all in Thai so you really have no clue what you are looking at.
MUST-try food in Chiang Mai, Thailand
You don’t visit Chiang Mai for real until you try all the northern Thai food and traditional dishes that it offers, like the famous Khao Soi, the pork satay, the som tam (papaya salad) etc.
Here’s a list of the best Chiang Mai food you NEED to eat in Chiang Mai:
- Phad Thai – One of the most famous Thai dishes, well known outside of the country (and for good reason). You absolutely must try the national dish made of sir fried rice noodles with peanuts and bean sprouts while you are here in its birth place!
- Khao Soi – Khao soi is a super famous northern Thai food made of yellow egg noodles and served in a coconut milk curry with your choice of chicken, beef, pork or even tofu. There are countless places in Chiang Mai where you can try this delicious dish, but some of the best (and cheapest ones) are served at Khao Soi Lam Duan.
- Street food – One of the most popular Chiang Mai foods is (of course) the street food that you find in countless markets. It’s simply an experience that you need to have in Asia. In Chiang Mai, you’ll see a lot of Sai Oua (a pork sausage), sticky rice with mango, banana crepe cake, and weird things like scorpions or cockroaches.
- Gai Tod (fried chicken) – As simple as it sounds, fried chicken is a very typical street snack in Thailand: you will find it anywhere in Chiang Mai.
P.S.: if you love chicken in all its forms, you also need to check out Cherng Doi Roast Chicken, serving the best roast chicken in Chiang Mai!
- Satay – This is a super popular dish throughout many countries in Southeast Asia, and it consists of seasoned, skewered, and grilled meat usually served with peanut sauce. In Chiang Mai they particularly love pork satay or chicken satay, you’ll find it everywhere!
- Som Tam (papaya salad) – Papaya salads are extremely popular in Thailand, and they are SO delicious, combining all the tastes in one: salty, chili, sweet, and sour. The papaya salad is usually accompanied by Thai sticky rice, perfect to dip it in the green papaya salad dressing!
P.S.: Another incredible Thai-style salad is the pomelo salad with crab paste and dried shrimp… one of my favorites!
- Tom Yum Soup – This one literally translates to “boiled mixed soup” but is usually served full of prawns, lemongrass and other fresh herbs and spices. The sour and spicy flavors are sure to clear your sinuses and this soup is actually considered to be a natural antimicrobial!
- Mango Sticky Rice – For dessert, don’t miss this popular dish which can be found all over southeast Asia. As the name suggests, this sweat consists of a mound of sticky rice accompanied by fresh mango slices covered in coconut milk.
Best food tours in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Another way to discover the traditional food in Chiang Mai is to join one of the food tours and cooking classes through Chiang Mai’s best restaurants. During which you can also learn how to make delicious Chiang Mai dishes yourself and even get secret family recipes from locals!
This is the best souvenir you could take home from Thailand!
- Street Food Tour – During this small group evening tour you’ll explore Chiang Mai’s colorful night markets with a local and sample 8 market foods. The tour lasts about 2.5h and costs $35, including pickup and drop-off at your Chiang Mai hotel.
- Chiang Mai Traditional Dinner + Performance – Explore Chiang Mai’s largest wet market and have a traditional northern Thai dinner while you enjoy Asian cultural performances! This cool tour lasts about 4 h and costs $39.
- Private Food Tour – Try 10 Thai specialties on this half-day tour through the streets of Chiang Mai! The tour takes place either in the morning or afternoon, depending on your choice, and costs $56.
- Half Day Cooking Class – Learn how to cook authentic Thai meals in this half or full-day cooking class on an organic farm. During the tour, you will buy fresh ingredients at a local market and make classic Thai dishes with an expert cooking instructor for $29.
FAQs about best Chiang Mai restaurants
😋 Which are the best Chiang Mai restaurants?
🍴 Which are the best local Chiang Mai restaurants?
🍜 What food is Chiang Mai famous for?
You finally reached the end of this extensive guide about the best restaurants in Chiang Mai, Mueang Chiang Mai District, serving everything from northern Thai cuisine to Lanna Cuisine, or western food.
We also saw some digital nomad-friendly cafes in Nimmanhaemin, one of the best areas where to stay in Chiang Mai, and 3 bonuses giving you all the details on food delivery apps, foods you NEED to eat in Chiang Mai, and another of the top food tours and cooking classes in the city.
I hope you enjoyed my guide, and if you still have some questions for me or want to suggest other good restaurants, please do that in the comments below, I am looking forward to reading them all!
Have some yummy meals!
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