May it be the Northern way of life? The charm of craft and artery, or its lush forests that draw travellers from every corner of the world to come to Chiang Mai? The Northern Thai province is so popular that Chiang Mai receives over millions of visitors yearly. And, without a doubt, it has become the most visited city in Northern Thailand.
To celebrate the truly flavoursome of Chiang Mai, our mysterious MICHELIN Inspectors take a trip to the Northern capital to uncover the perfect places to dine in. Whether you’re a novice to Northern Thai cuisine, or a culinarily well-travelled epicurean, these are 11 best places for boreal Thai taste to enjoy.
Krua Phech Doi Ngam (Krua Mueang Classic) (MICHELIN-recommended, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
This open-air restaurant, a local favourite, is adorned with golden lamps descending from the ceiling. Serving traditional northern cuisine, its speciality is locally caught fish marinated in herbs and spices; grilled in a bamboo tube until soft, it releases a delightful smoky aroma. Don’t miss the fresh gurmar leaves, a local vegetable, wok fried with eggs, cherry tomatoes and shallots until soft yet firm and delicious.
Address: 267/1 Mu 2, Mahidol Road, Pa Daet, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 53 204 517
Kiti Panit (MICHELIN-recommended, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
When they decided to turn their great-great-grandparents’ 1880s mansion into a restaurant, Kiti Panit’s owners brought in chefs from one MICHELIN Starred Saawaan to create an updated take on traditional Lanna cuisine. The results include intense and complex Hang Le, or northern Thai curry, and savoury grilled chicken salad with coriander. Also recommended are the signature Khao Mao Gorn Rad Gati, or unripe rice with coconut milk, and the creative seasonal desserts.
Address: 19 Tha Phae Road, Chang Klan, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 8 8949 7996
The House by Ginger (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
Open for decades on the edge of the old city, this stylish, quirky spot serves authentic Northern Thai classics like Khao Soi and Nam Prik Ong with a twist. Everything they make is MSG-free and all their produce is local and organic. Standouts include seared scallops with mangosteen and coconut-chilli dressing, and Massaman with sea bass. Pair them with one of their many lovely cocktails and to extend your evening, continue on to the House Lounge next door.
Address: 199 Mun Mueang Road, Si Phum, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 53 287 681
Lumdee Te Khuadang (MICHELIN-recommended, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
Bearing a loose resemblance to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the bridge in the name (which translates as 'delicious at the red bridge') forms an iconic landmark while also providing guests with a pleasant spot to dine after dark. The range of local and northern dishes carries intense flavours. The ‘hors d'oeuvre Mueang’ served with Nam Prik Num is a must try, while the tasty Hang Le curry and Jin Sap Khuadang, a spicy pork salad, also get the nod.
Address: 345/9 Mu 3, Wongwaen Rop 2, San Phra Net, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 8 6688 3688
Han Thueng Chiang Mai (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
Occupying gable-roofed houses near Chiang Mai University, this place may lack a sign but locals have been flocking here for its delicious, competitively priced Northern Thai fare for over a decade. The rustic décor echoes the no-frills food with delicate flavours and textures. Their steamed beef slices with galangal dip are recommended; and for a delicious off-menu dish, order the seasonal special made from ingredients like wild mushrooms. Service is friendly.
Address: 63/9 Soi Suthep 4, Suthep Road, Suthep, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 9 1076 6100
Huen Muan Jai (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
This restaurant, whose name means ‘happy home’, has been serving authentic Northern Thai food since 2011. Set in a Lanna house with a tree-lined garden, the popular wallet-friendly restaurant is headed by Chef Charan Thipeung, whose skills previously landed him on a popular tv show. He offers hard-to-find traditional dishes and favourites like the flavoursome Northern Thai spicy pork salad. For first timers, start with the excellent Northern appetizer sampler.
Address: 24 Ratchaphruek Road, Chang Phuek, Chiang Mai. Tel +66 9 1076 6100
Ginger Farm Kitchen (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
Rustically furnished and dotted by plants, this restaurant’s huge windows bring the outside in. It embraces a farm-to-table concept using organic and seasonal vegetables, along with free-range eggs and meats from its own farm and local artisans. Expect skillfully cooked classic northern Thai dishes from flavourful salads to aromatic northern Thai curry soups. Grilled organic aubergine salad is a standout. Booking is recommended; parking is limited.
Address: 1 Nimmanhaemin Road, Suthep, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 5 2080 928
Mootod Kadluang by Damrong (MICHELIN-recommended, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
After decades of feeding the Luang Walking Street crowds with delicious fried pork, this simple Lanna house now serves a tantalising menu of northern Thai flavours. Definitely order the Nam Prik Num, fried pork with green chilli relish. Gurmar soup with dried fish is refreshing, while the spicy soup with tilapia is sour, northern-Thai style. The open-air dining room beneath a beautiful thatched roof and beside bamboo trees is another reason to visit.
Address: 201/90 Mu 3, Chang Phueak, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 9 0536 3661
Huan Soontaree (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
Soontaree Vechanon doesn’t just own Huan Soontaree (Northern Thai for ‘Soontaree’s House’) – the famous singer also performs here nightly. Set on the Ping River in an open-air Lanna-style building with more tables outside, the restaurant can accommodate up to 350 guests. Here they serve authentic northern fare with quality local ingredients. The mixed platter provides a nice intro and the deep-fried boneless fish stuffed with pork and crab meat hits all the right notes.
Address: 208 Patan Road, Pa Tan, Chiang Mai. Tel +66 8 3860 8196
Kinlum Kindee (MICHELIN-recommended, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
Truth in advertising may be rare, but Kin Lum Kin Dee, which means “to eat delicious food and eat well” in Lanna, allows Northern Thai food lovers to do just that. Formerly downtown, the restaurant is now in a quiet pavilion in San Sai surrounded by gardens, trees, and fields. Dishes are marked by authentic flavours and fresh ingredients, with some from the garden. Grilled field crab innards with egg yolks and northern Thai herb soup with pork are must-tries.
Address: 172 Mu 3, Muang Len, Chiang Mai. Tel. +66 8 2656 3941
Krua Lawng Khao (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022)
Food and atmosphere are well-matched at this chill Northern Thai restaurant in Mae Rim. It’s in a two-storey wooden pavilion with regular tables downstairs and cushioned floor seating upstairs; both options offer relaxing rice field views and refreshing breezes. The food here is equally fresh, as well as flavourful and easy on the wallet; the Northern Thai spicy pork salad and the Northern Thai hot and spicy soup with fish and morning glory are recommended.
Address: 18 Mu 2, Soi Sukhaphiban Mae Rim, Ban Duang Di 1, Rim Tai, Chiang Mai. Tel +66 8 3476 3421
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