To me Chiang Mai has it all; old Thai charm, culture and history as well as a modern scene with great cafes, bars and restaurants.
I posted a while back about what to do in Chiang Mai, deciding to do a separate post on our favourite eating spots.
As a disclaimer, this is by no means an 'ultimate guide' to Chiang Mai's restaurant scene.
In total we spent just over two weeks in Thailand's northern capital, and tasted a lot of what it had to offer - but by no means all! That said, there are so many delicious places I just have to share with you, I'm having to split this post in to two parts; lunch eats and dinner eats. By lunch eats I mean places we'd stop in for brunch, lunch, or a quick bite to eat/drink to catch a break from temple hopping and exploring the city. Many of these are also open for dinner, but not all. And when it came to lunch we almost always craved western food. Brunch is definitely becoming a thing in CM and as a result its not hard to find places serving eggs benny or sandwiches and the like. Dinner was when we went Thai, which I'll save for another time.
About a fifteen minute walk from the old town, Artisan is towards the end of Saturday Walking Street. Nordic cafe style at it's best, it screams 'take photos of me and upload to Instagram immediately'. You know the type! Gorgeous interior, great coffee and delicious brunch options. We loved the eggs benedict and pancakes. (Facebook page)
Just within the Old Town, south of Tha Phae Gate, Overstand was a hit and just a five minute walk from our hotel. I definitely didn't feel cool enough to be here! These guys are so good they've won the 'best breakfast in Chiang Mai' accolade two years running, and for good reason. I had the sourdough with tomatoes, pesto and feta topped with an egg, and Rich had an incredible pulled pork sandwich which was *dreamy*. Super friendly folks, cool art littered about and some old school hip hop for good measure. (Website)
Good Morning Chiang Mai
We stumbled upon this on our first morning in CM and it immediately gave us a taste of the city's cool cafe scene. Not only does it serve up delicious food at a good price, they also offer accommodation and a relaxing spot to chill within the Old Town. You really get your money's worth here with good portions at fair prices. It was the first decent iced coffee we'd had in weeks so we were happy to unwind here, whilst mapping out our day of exploring. (Website)
This place was awesome. Delicious! We trekked all the way across the Old Town on a Monday to have lunch here, only to find it open Tues - Sunday. I can confirm that hunger and 42 degree heat are not compatible! After this it became our mission to visit when it was open, and indeed we did on our second stay in CM. The breakfasts here are incredible, my favourite being the french toast made with challah bread - warning it is huge. I'm literally drooling at the thought! The sandwiches are also great (try the greek chicken salad sarnie), and they can make you some to takeaway for lunch if you're off adventuring for the day. Definitely worth travelling up to the far north east corner of the Old Town, where The Hideout sits just outside. (Facebook page)
Rustic and Blue
Nestled in the super trendy student area of Nimmanhaemin, Rustic and Blue is open from dawn to dusk boasting 'artisan' food in a gorgeous setting. I went for the chorizo tomato salad and Rich the tacos; R&B serve good quality, nutritious food. There's a real emphasis on homegrown ingredients, and more vegetables than I saw in most of my time in Thailand! Avocados were out of season when we were visiting (April) and this was the only place we were able to order them. Happy faces all round! (Facebook page).
The Larder Cafe
Another Nimmanhaemin favourite, this is tucked away off the main road and served me the best eggs I had in Thailand; I know, a big claim. Not just any old eggs either, Parmesan scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, fresh tomatoes and crusty bread. Yes, it really was as delicious as it sounds! Rich went for some sausage and toast number and we left happy travellers with our cravings for western breakfasts sated. (Facebook page).
See You Soon Cafe
Located right next to Wat Chedi Luang in the heart of the old town, See You Soon became our go-to when we were hot, exhausted and/or seeking caffeine! It was also where we went to seek shelter from Songkran madness (a giant waterfight celebrating the new year) for which I am forever grateful. This place does it all; great coffee, ice cream, wine, Thai food and western food. You can see why we came back! It also has a nice little gift shop attached where I browsed for things I couldn't afford and definitely wouldn't fit in my backpack... No change there. They also have rooms. (Website)
Fresh & Wraps
Last but not least, this one we found right at the end of our time in Chiang Mai and turned out to be the perfect lunch spot near Tha Phae Gate. We went for quesadillas and juices; both were tasty and slightly different from the other CM offerings. The menu has a load of brunch options including pancakes and eggs, as well as salads and sandwiches (no sweet bread here, hurrah!) etc. As ever, the moden bistro style design attracts tourists, expats and the younger Thai crowd and is great for those days when you can't stomach any more phad thai. I felt healthier just being here! (Facebook page).