Tom’s (Mini) Guide to Eating in Chiang Mai Thailand
If you’re like me and the rest of the world’s population; you like to eat. Chiang Mai Thailand has incredible food, where even the western food is sometimes just as good as what I’m used to eating back home. Chiang Mai is known as the Jewel in the North because of the rich art and culture found here, but I call it a “Jewel” because of the great dining options available.
After nearly a year of living in Chiang Mai, here are my top picks for food and dining in Chiang Mai.
As much as I enjoy Thai food, I still sometimes revert back to my roots and crave a juicy hamburger along with its many henchmen also known as French Fries. My number one pick for the best hamburger in Chiang Mai goes to Chiang Mai Saloon. Big, fat, juicy burger cuddled between a lightly toasted homemade bun. Their burger and fries are 180 baht (6usd), and it’s as good as any burger that I’ve had in the U.S. They have two locations; one is in the “red light district”, Loh Khro road, which is a small restaurant and can be a bit smoky, but if you’re a smoker and/or have a goal to take a lady back to your room or to get a sexy massage, this location is perfect. Their second location is on Ratchawithi Road, which is north of the famous Tha Pae road. This location is much larger and I found it to be more comfortable.
Honorable mention goes to Loco Elvis, which is located at the mouth of Ratchawithi Road, right on the moat road. This restaurant is touristy and pricey, but for meeting other tourists and getting good food, it’s a safe bet. If you’re into karaoke, they usually begin to crank up their large repertoire of American and English rock n’ roll tunes after 9pm.
Finding the perfect pizza in northern Thailand has been a mission of mine for some time. I’ve tried many pizzas here in Chiang Mai, and none of them were all that great and certainly didn’t come close to most of the pizzas that I’ve eaten in America. I even followed the advice from a well-known expat YouTuber who has lived in Chiang Mai for a decade, but the pizza places he recommended fell short as well.
The Holy Grail of pizza, in my opinion, was hidden in plain sight right under my nose for more than half a year. The award for the best pizza in Chiang Mai, and possibly all of northern Thailand goes to The Duke’s. Their pizza is just as good as most pizzas that I’ve had in western countries, and they’re not stingy with the toppings, which is what I experienced at many other restaurants. Their pizza is a good value as well; the “small”, meat lover’s pizza is just 260 baht (8.50usd), and it’s large enough to feed two healthy-sized people.
The Duke’s has three locations, and the best one to go to is the one on the Ping River at Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, because the food is more consistent.
[Editor’s note: I’ve heard they have excellent spaghetti and meatballs, but I have not tried it for myself.]
Finding good Mexican food in Chiang Mai was also a priority for me, and that mission was accomplished fairly recently. My favorite Mexican food in Chiang Mai can be found at Salsa Kitchen, located on Huay Kaew Road. I am very impressed with their burritos, which are generously stuffed with beef, beans, salsa and peppers. Their nacho chips are made to order, and are exactly what I’m used to eating ‘back home’. The salsa was excellent, which is crucial because chips and salsa are a match made in heaven and cannot live without one another. Salsa Kitchen has annoying / charming (choose one) Mexican music playing in the background so the atmosphere is authentic.
[Editor’s note: This area is near Chiang Mai University. Expect to see a lot of little ‘super models’ driving their motorbikes.]
Second-place goes to Miguel’s, and honestly, you really can’t go wrong with either one of these restaurants.
Located on Moon Mueng, soi 9 is Blue Diamond, and they’ve got a quite a spread of organic and vegetarian foods, including (veggie and real) burgers, pastas, salads, western breakfast sets and plenty of Thai food. When you enter, you’ll see all sorts of organic and homemade pastries, biscuits, muffins and other breads on display. They also sell raw nuts and seeds, herbs, plus, if you’re into buying non-commercial health products like shampoos, soaps and mosquito repellent, this place has these items, too. This restaurant is very cozy and inviting, and the ambiance alone might make this place worth a visit.
Gekko Garden Restaurant: If there is such a thing as a restaurant “sweet spot” in Chiang Mai, it would have to be Gekko Garden, at the intersection of Sri Doncha and Kamphaeng Road near the Night Bazaar. I’ve eaten there likely 50 times, and every item that I’ve ordered from their large, tome-sized menu has been great. They have a universal mix of Thai and farang foods such as (beef and lamb) burgers, fish and chips, spaghetti, chili, lasagna, etc. Everything is modestly priced, and this includes the beer, where you can order three large Chang’s or Leo’s for 189 baht (6usd). This place is a dive and it’s hard to find because it’s encapsulated in vegetation, but it is worth visiting.
Tom has written an informative and wildly entertaining book about Thailand. It has been recommended that every Thailand newbie read it before visiting, and every person who likes a good “travel yarn” will find it to be a page-turner. It’s titled: The Amazing Stories of Tom in Thailand and it’s on Amazon now. Click here to preview for free or to download or go to his website at www.TominThailand.com
Posted on Gods of Thailand December 18, 2013 in Chiang Mai