So you’re heading to Chiang Mai and undoubtedly, eating ranks right up there with visiting temples and markets, right???
Well, it does with me, no matter WHERE I travel!
Part of the fun of traveling is figuring out where we can go eat when we’re there, and researching where to eat in Chiang Mai was no exception! The bonus with eating in Chiang Mai is that there is a large variety of restaurants to choose from! And if you’re looking for Thai food (because when in Thailand…!), you’re going to be able find it for crazy cheap!
I’m getting hungry just thinking about this food again. Let’s get on with it!
I can’t say enough about Cooking Love. We loved this restaurant so much that we went back three times while we were in Chiang Mai! Located in the Walled Old City, they offer good food at cheap prices with friendly service…did I mention good food??
And we’re not the only ones who love Cooking Love. There is often a queue of people waiting for tables during the busy meal times, so it pays to get there just before the rush times!
When you enter Cooking Love, there is a sign kindly telling you to remove your shoes and leave them on a shoe rack by the entrance.
Cooking Love is nothing fancy and, if anything, it’s got a very homey feel about it, especially when you’re walking around with no shoes on!
Some of our favorite dishes there was the Pad Thai, of course…
…as well as Massaman chicken curry and stirfried morning glory (water spinach). It was all. So. Good!
Drink were no exception. Refreshing and yummy iced coffee, iced fresh ginger tea, and fresh fruit smoothies in large cups for crazy cheap! And the fresh fruit smoothies were all fruit…no fillers!
At the end of each meal, we were served complimentary homemade coconut jellies and fresh sliced watermelon. Each time we ate there, it was a feast of a meal for a ridiculously low price. One night we had dinner there which included 2 orders of Pad Thai, 2 orders of morning glory, Penang curry, 2 glasses of wine, 2 fresh raspberry smoothies, and an order of steamed rice…and paid only $20USD total!
A couple doors down from Cooking Love is Lert Ros. You have to walk by Lert Ros to get to Cooking Love, and it always got our attention every time we passed it.
Out front everyday was a man (we presumed to be the owner) who was cooking scores of fish on makeshift charcoal grills made from, what looked like, metal buckets. It smelled good and looked good and we decided we had to try it out!
Their specialty is, obviously, their whole grilled tilapia fish and it would be silly to go there and not try it!
When they serve it, they peel back the skin, revealing perfectly cooked fish meat that tasted sooooo good! We loved it! When we went for dinner one night, we ordered one fish, and then ended up ordering a second one because we decided we needed more food and it was just too good!
We also ordered grilled beef and pork, which were also nice and tasty, each coming with their own dipping sauces.
You can also get ice-cold fresh coconut water (served right in the coconut!) for cheap (don’t forget you can eat the coconut meat inside!).
We liked Lert Ros so much that we went back a second time!
As I mentioned before, if you’re looking for tasty Thai food for ridiculously cheap prices, you can’t go wrong being in Thailand! Also located within the Walled Old City, Tikky Cafe is another great example of where to eat in Chiang Mai, offering a load of delicious dishes in a cozy rustic setting. Don’t let the decor turn you away…appearances don’t necessarily indicate quality!
We enjoyed Pad Thai (I don’t think we could get enough of the dish when we were in Chiang Mai!), yellow curry chicken fried rice, green chicken curry, and a rice soup.
Add on two refreshing smoothies and our wonderful meal cost a whopping $11USD!
Yet another gem within the Walled Old City, Coconut Shell definitely falls into the hole-in-the-wall category, with very limited seating. Again, don’t let the setting turn you away…there’s good food to be had! Somehow we managed to fit 4 dishes (Pad Thai, Massaman chicken curry, morning glory, and fried eggs with chili peppers and spices), 2 plates of rice, and 3 drinks on our small table and paid LESS THAN $10USD.
I can’t tell you how much the words CHEAP and THAI FOOD go together in Chiang Mai!
The Flying Pig
If you’re looking for a break from Thai food, and if you’re also what exists outside the walls of the Old City, consider trying The Flying Pig. Western food, in general, is going to cost more than the local Thai food, but you can still find reasonable prices. They are also not like your Thai hole-in-the-walls with folding tables and plastic stools or chairs to sit on.
This restaurant was walking distance from our hotel and after several Thai meals, it was nice to have some variety.
The Flying Pig’s specialty is grilled ribs, so of course, that’s what we had to order!
We also ordered shredded beef sliders with a side of fries.
It was all really good food — cooked perfectly and tasted delicious! It’s definitely a nice option for western food in Chiang Mai.
Rock Me Burgers
Another restaurant not inside the Walled Old City and offering western food is Rock Me Burgers. We’re not typically “burger people”, but it had good reviews and was within walking distance from our hotel again, so we thought we’d give them a try!
Again, we are not “burger people”, but I have to admit that they did a nice job with the burgers! Served on a wood platter, which was literally a slice from the trunk of a tree, Rock Me Burger served up old-fashioned burgers and fries that didn’t disappoint. They even had milkshakes on the menu!
Another nice thing about Rock Me is their bar seating that faces right out onto the street. It made for a more fun meal, enjoying our burgers while we people watched!
Besides eating, sitting in coffee shops is a popular thing to do in Chiang Mai. It’s just kind of the thing to do…buy a beverage and sit yourself down and chill. We did our share of doing just that and visited a few different coffee shops.
Nine One Coffee, besides serving the usual coffee house drinks, had nice indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Roastniyom, like Nine One Coffee, is located outside the Walled Old City. Roastniyom has more of a Starbuck’s kind of feel in terms of how the shop is laid out and the decor. We sat ourselves at the bar by the window and enjoyed the sunshine and watching the people and cars go by.
Pai Doi Coffee is located within the Walled Old City, near the East Gate. We went there a couple of times and enjoyed sitting in their outdoor terrace area. Again, lots of people watching, nice coffees, and a relaxing atmosphere. We couldn’t ask for anything more.
Obviously, there are a countless number of restaurants and coffee shops to choose from in Chiang Mai. Some of the best ones are found just by wandering and seeing what you see! But if you’re making your way to Thailand and wanting some suggestions on where to eat in Chiang Mai, I hope this gives you a good starting point and gets your even more excited about your trip!