Unique Restaurants in Chiang Mai: 12 Coolest Places to Eat

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Chiang Mai
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Mai is packed with culinary delights, where every corner holds a surprise. From space- themed cafes to serene nature retreats, the unique restaurants in Chiang Mai promise Chiang unforgettable experiences. Dive into this guide and discover the quirky and charming eateries that make Chiang Mai a gastronomic paradise!

Chiang Mai is more than just beautiful temples and bustling night markets. It’s a city that tells its story through food. Nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai offers a mix of traditional flavors and modern twists. This makes it a must-visit for every food lover.

From cafes where you can dip your toes in water while sipping coffee to treehouse spots hidden deep in the jungle, there’s always something new and exciting to try. Whether you’re a fan of spicy Thai dishes, refreshing salads, or wood-fired pizzas, Chiang Mai’s unique restaurants promise a delightful experience.

So, if you’re wondering where to eat in this charming city, you’re in for a treat. We’ve put together a list of some of the most unique restaurants in Chiang Mai. Each spot offers something special, be it the ambiance, the food, or the story behind it. Ready to embark on a tasty journey? Let’s dive in and explore the culinary wonders of Chiang Mai!

The top restaurants to visit in Chiang Mai right now
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Unique Restaurants in Chiang Mai, Thailand: 12 Must-Visit Spots for Food Enthusiasts

Ready to dive into the most unique restaurants in Chiang Mai? As we’ve hinted before, Chiang Mai’s culinary landscape is a treasure trove of flavors that caters to all tastes. Keep reading to find out where to eat in Chiang Mai for an unforgettable dining experience.

Are you in the mood for traditional Thai dishes with an innovative twist? Or perhaps an artisanal coffee brewed to perfection in a hidden garden café? Whatever you’re hankering for, Chiang Mai’s eclectic eateries are ready to impress. Here’s your comprehensive guide to the most unique dining spots in Chiang Mai.

1. Jungle De Cafe

Among the unique restaurants in Chiang Mai, Jungle De Cafe holds a special place. Located in the artisan village of Baan Tawai, this restaurant offers an immersive dining experience that’s hard to find elsewhere. The village itself is renowned for its wood carving and crafts, making the journey to the cafe a visual treat.

As you dine, you’re enveloped by the sights and sounds of the jungle. The dense greenery that surrounds the cafe provides a natural canopy, shielding diners from the sun while allowing gentle breezes to enhance the ambiance.

The menu is a reflection of Chiang Mai’s diverse culinary heritage. Traditional Thai dishes, prepared using fresh local ingredients, sit alongside international favorites, offering a broad palette of flavors. Each dish is crafted with care, ensuring that it not only tastes good but also tells a story of the region’s rich culinary traditions.

For travelers and locals seeking the coolest restaurants in Chiang Mai, Jungle De Cafe is a must-visit. Every aspect, from the location to the menu, has been curated to provide a unique and authentic Chiang Mai experience.

Jungle De Cafe is one of the unique restaurants in Dubai.
Jungle De Cafe offers an immersive dining experience surrounded by wood carving and crafts.

2. KHAO by Four Seasons

For those in search of the best food in Chiang Mai, KHAO by Four Seasons is a destination that shouldn’t be missed. Nestled amidst verdant rice fields with the mist-clad mountains as a backdrop, this flagship restaurant offers more than just a meal; it’s a journey into the heart of Northern Thailand’s vibrant culinary culture.

The menu at KHAO is a testament to the region’s rich gastronomic heritage. Dishes like Yam Pla Fu, a crispy local catfish delicacy paired with tangerine, and Goong Mae Narm Yang, grilled giant river prawns sourced from local hill tribes and topped with seaweed caviar, showcase the depth and diversity of flavors found in this part of the world.

But it’s not just the food that makes KHAO special. The ambiance, inspired by the serene surroundings, adds to the dining experience. Each morning, guests are treated to a lavish breakfast buffet, a perfect start to a day of exploration in Chiang Mai. For those seeking something truly unique, the private breakfast amidst the rice fields, curated by Chef Stephane Calvet, is an experience to remember. When listing the best places to eat in Chiang Mai, KHAO by Four Seasons undoubtedly earns its spot.

KHAO by Four Seasons offers a culinary journey amidst rice fields and misty mountains, showcasing Northern Thailand's vibrant cuisine.
KHAO by Four Seasons offers a culinary journey amidst rice fields and misty mountains, showcasing Northern Thailand’s vibrant cuisine.

3. Khaomao-Khaofang

Khaomao-Khaofang is a journey into the heart of a rainforest. This enchanting establishment offers diners an unparalleled atmosphere that evokes the essence of an “imaginary jungle.” With its exquisite scenery, complete with lush greenery and a roaring waterfall, it’s a feast for both the eyes and the palate.

For those exploring a Chiang Mai restaurant guide, Khaomao-Khaofang is a must-mention. The ambiance is further enhanced by the harmonious blend of blooming flowers, verdant shrubs, and the gentle sounds of nature. This makes it a perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a special gathering.

Among the unique restaurants in Chiang Mai for dinner, Khaomao-Khaofang stands out for its culinary excellence. The menu is a testament to the passion of its founders—a husband and wife duo specializing in horticulture and culinary arts. Diners can indulge in delightful Thai dishes from across the country, especially the north. Highlights include crispy shredded chicken with herbs and betel leaves, and fresh seafood dishes that tantalize the taste buds. The lakeside seating further elevates the dining experience, offering a serene backdrop for a relaxing meal.

Khaomao-Khaofang offers a unique dining experience with lush greenery, a waterfall, and an "imaginary jungle" atmosphere.
Khaomao-Khaofang offers a unique dining experience with lush greenery, a waterfall, and an “imaginary jungle” atmosphere.

4. Sepsilp Glin Kafe Bannok

Among the hidden gem restaurants in Chiang Mai, Sepsilp Glin Kafe Bannok stands out as a delightful surprise. This café and art gallery, with its rather lengthy name, offers a unique dining experience that seamlessly blends art, nature, and culinary delights. The moment you step in, you’re greeted with an array of vintage cars, stacks of old televisions, and haystacks, setting the tone for a nostalgic journey.

But what truly sets this place apart is its innovative seating that allows patrons to dip their toes in water while savoring a cup of coffee. It’s a refreshing touch, especially on a warm day. The coffee itself is a testament to the owner, Neng’s expertise. Known in Chiang Mai’s coffee roasting circles, Neng’s brand, Bannok, combines the best of Pang Khon coffee from Chiang Rai and Doi Saket coffee from Chiang Mai.

For those on a budget and looking for cheap eats in Chiang Mai, Sepsilp Glin Kafe Bannok doesn’t disappoint. While the focus is primarily on coffee, they also offer a selection of Thai classics like fried rice and yum woon sen (spicy vermicelli salad).

Sepsilp Glin Kafe Bannok is a hidden gem café and gallery that seamlessly blends art, nature, and nostalgia.
Sepsilp Glin Kafe Bannok is a hidden gem café and gallery that seamlessly blends art, nature, and nostalgia.

5. Lhong Pa

For those seeking unique places in Chiang Mai to eat, Lhong Pa offers an experience that’s both visually and gastronomically captivating. Originally a gallery, this restaurant is set on a sprawling one rai of land in the scenic Mae Rim district. The indoor space is a blend of art and comfort, adorned with striking artwork and trendy knickknacks, while the open-air seating area provides a refreshing ambiance under a translucent roof.

The menu at Lhong Pa is a delightful mix of classic and innovative. Traditional pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara are available for those craving familiar flavors. But for the adventurous, the spaghetti nam prik ong, a fusion of Northern-style tomato paste with minced pork, is a must-try. The drink selection is equally impressive, ranging from the usual iced coffee and green tea to an array of fruit-infused sodas.

Among the many unique restaurants in Chiang Mai, Lhong Pa stands out not just for its food but also for its ambiance. The weekends can get busy, so it’s advisable to head there early. Located near the Mae Sa Waterfall in Mae Rim district, it’s a spot where art, nature, and culinary delights converge, promising an unforgettable dining experience.

Lhong Pa offers a visually captivating dining experience in a gallery-inspired setting with indoor artistry and open-air ambiance.
Lhong Pa offers a visually captivating dining experience in a gallery-inspired setting with indoor artistry and open-air ambiance.

6. The Giant

For those searching for fun places to eat in Chiang Mai, The Giant offers an experience that’s straight out of a fairy tale. Located in the quaint village of Pok in the Mae On district, this treehouse coffee shop and resort is a dream come true for nature lovers. Imagine sipping on a cup of coffee while nestled within the branches of a massive banyan tree, with the lush jungle providing a serene backdrop.

The café’s menu is as enchanting as its setting. Coffee, brewed from locally farmed beans, is the star here, available both iced and hot. Complementing the beverages are a range of finger foods, including sausage pizza, shrimp-stuffed spring rolls, and Chinese-style steamed shrimp dumplings. For those planning an extended stay, the on-site boutique hotel offers cozy accommodations. This ensures a complete escape from the hustle of city life.

If you’re on the hunt for a truly unique restaurant in Chiang Mai, The Giant is a must-visit. With its whimsical setting and delectable offerings, it promises an experience that’s both delightful and memorable. And while the area might lack mobile signal, they’ve got you covered with Wi-Fi on request. This ensures you can share your treetop adventures with the world.

The Giant is one of the unique restaurants in Chiang Mai.
The Giant is a treehouse coffee shop and resort, creating a fairy-tale dining experience in the jungle.

7. Chom Cafe and Restaurant

Chom Cafe and Restaurant is a magical escape that transports you straight into a fairy tale. The ambiance is reminiscent of the mermaid lagoon from the beloved tale of Peter Pan. This makes it a dreamy destination for both the young and the young at heart.

For those looking for the best restaurants in Chiang Mai, Chom Cafe is a visual treat. The garden grounds are a picturesque blend of mossy rocks, fern glades, and a shimmering pond filled with swimming koi. The cascading waterfall adds to the enchantment, creating an atmosphere that’s both tranquil and mesmerizing.

But it’s not just the ambiance that makes Chom Cafe one of Chiang Mai’s best restaurants. The menu boasts a delightful mix of Thai, Western, and Seafood dishes. From garden green salads and grilled seafood to freshly fried crisp fish and pasta, there’s something for every palate. And if you have a sweet tooth, the desserts, ranging from strawberry tarts to a variety of cakes, are sure to satisfy. Whether you’re looking for a serene brunch spot, a romantic dinner setting, or simply a place to relive childhood fantasies, Chom Cafe promises an experience that’s unforgettable.

Chom Cafe and Restaurant offers a picturesque garden with mossy rocks, ferns, koi pond, and a captivating waterfall.
Chom Cafe and Restaurant offers a picturesque garden with mossy rocks, ferns, koi pond, and a captivating waterfall.

8. Chic 39

Chic 39 is a serene escape that immerses you in the beauty of nature. Located in Mae Rim, a short drive from the heart of Chiang Mai, this unique cafe offers a tranquil setting that’s perfect for those looking to recharge and indulge in delectable fare.

For those in search of scenic places in Chiang Mai to eat, Chic 39 stands out. This is thanks to its lush green surroundings, reminiscent of Chiang Mai’s picturesque landscapes during the winter months. The ambiance is further enhanced by the cafe’s design, which seamlessly blends with the natural surroundings, offering diners cozy corners to relax and take in the views.

Among the many unique restaurants in Chiang Mai, Chic 39 prides itself on its diverse menu. The dedicated chef scours Chiang Mai for the freshest produce, crafting dishes that range from classic Thai favorites like pork green curry and pineapple fried rice to fusion delights that combine Thai flavors with Western cooking techniques. Pasta in white sauce, avocado and salmon salad, aromatic rotis, and more await the discerning palate. And for dessert lovers, the homemade cheesecake and chocolate cake are a must-try, perfectly paired with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Chic 39 offers a scenic dining experience with lush green surroundings and natural design, perfect for relaxation.
Chic 39 offers a scenic dining experience with lush green surroundings and natural design, perfect for relaxation.

9. Monday Sick Leave

When you think of fun restaurants in Chiang Mai, Monday Sick Leave quickly comes to mind. Perched atop a four-storey building on Chang Klan, this rooftop gem offers more than just panoramic views of the city. The ambiance is playful and vibrant, reminiscent of a laid-back garage party. Drinks are served in those iconic red plastic cups, a nod to Hollywood teen movies, setting the stage for a relaxed evening with friends.

The star of the show here is the thin, crispy pizza, fresh out of a wood-fired oven. But that’s just the beginning. Before diving into the main course, consider starting with a light caprese salad or a generously sized Caesar salad, perfect for sharing and sparking conversation. For those with a penchant for BBQ, the menu offers sets of skewers, with choices ranging from traditional meats to the more adventurous Sichuan pepper BBQ. And if you still have room, the baked grill pork spare ribs are a must-try, as are the pasta dishes.

For those on the lookout for unique Chiang Mai restaurants, Monday Sick Leave stands out not just for its food but also for its distinctive character. Located on Srijundon Road in the T. Chang Klan area, it’s a place where memories are made, stories are shared, and delicious dishes are savored.

Monday Sick Leave is a rooftop restaurant with a vibrant ambiance and panoramic city views.
Monday Sick Leave is a rooftop restaurant with a vibrant ambiance and panoramic city views.

10. Zombie Cafe

Zombie Cafe is not your typical dining spot. As you step into this establishment, you’re greeted by the gentle flow of a stream that runs through the landscape. But what sets this place apart is the unique dining experience it offers. Imagine having your meal with tables and chairs set directly in the water. This allows you to relax with your feet submerged in the cool stream. It’s a refreshing touch, especially during Chiang Mai’s warmer months.

For those who love themed restaurants in Chiang Mai, Zombie Cafe offers a delightful blend of nature and novelty. Beyond the water dining, there are other seating options that promise equally captivating experiences. You can choose to dine in a building overlooking the jungle, relax in a hammock suspended above the stream, or even ascend to a giant treehouse with three levels. Each offers a distinct view of the verdant surroundings.

Among the unique restaurants in Chiang Mai, Zombie Cafe stands out for its diverse menu that caters to both Thai and Western palates. From delicious som tom salad and fried pork to single size pizzas and pastas, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re feeling adventurous, they even serve crocodile! To top it off, their strawberry smoothies come highly recommended, and they offer a range of beverages including coffee, tea, and local beers. Located in Mae Rim, about 30-40 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai, Zombie Cafe is a destination worth the journey.

Zombie Cafe offers an unforgettable dining experience with various seating options, including a treehouse.
Zombie Cafe offers an unforgettable dining experience with various seating options, including a treehouse.

11. No. 39 Cafe

Among the coolest places to eat in Chiang Mai, No. 39 Cafe stands out as a haven for both Instagram enthusiasts and families looking for a serene escape. Nestled in the foothills of Doi Suthep, this nature cafe offers a picturesque setting that’s perfect for capturing memories. From its vibrant greenery to the quaint pond in the center, every corner of No. 39 Cafe is a visual treat.

For those seeking unique places to eat in Chiang Mai, No. 39 Cafe offers more than just a scenic backdrop. While the food menu might be concise, it boasts delicious offerings like an all-day breakfast set that comes with delectable bacon. The drinks, especially the coffee, are a highlight, promising a refreshing experience amidst the natural surroundings. The cafe also features a small air-conditioned room with a piano, adding a touch of charm and providing a cool respite from the tropical heat.

But what truly sets No. 39 Cafe apart is its playful elements. From a slide that’s a hit among kids to a kayak waiting to be explored, there’s no shortage of fun activities. However, with its proximity to the road and the pond, it’s essential to keep a watchful eye on the little ones.

Tucked away in the Pong Noi area, finding No. 39 Cafe might be a bit of a challenge, but the journey is well worth it. Once you spot the iconic British mini car, you know you’re on the right track to this hidden gem.

No. 39 Cafe is a picturesque nature cafe, ideal for Instagram enthusiasts and families seeking a serene escape.
No. 39 Cafe is a picturesque nature cafe, ideal for Instagram enthusiasts and families seeking a serene escape.

12. PLUTO

For those seeking a truly unique restaurant in Chiang Mai, PLUTO in San Phi Suea offers an out-of-this-world experience. This space-themed cafe stands out not just in Chiang Mai but in the entire galaxy of cafes. Its matte black circular structure, reminiscent of a space station from a Star Wars movie, beckons visitors from afar, promising a cosmic adventure.

Step inside, and you’re transported to a sleek and modern universe. The cafe’s interior boasts a myriad of space-inspired elements. This includes everything from a majestic model of Pluto to the long marble bar that seems to shimmer with stardust. Elegant light fixtures cast a soft glow, illuminating the suede seating areas and creating an ambiance that’s both futuristic and cozy.

While the decor is undeniably captivating, PLUTO’s culinary offerings are equally stellar. The cafe is renowned for its baked pastries and desserts, with the Crispy Caramel Toast being a crowd favorite. But if you’re yearning for something more substantial, the Double Crispy Skin Salmon comes highly recommended by those who’ve ventured to this galactic eatery.

PLUTO is one of the unique restaurants in Chiang Mai. | Source: https://thesmartlocal.co.th/
PLUTO is a truly unique space-themed cafe with a matte black circular structure, offering a cosmic adventure. | Source: https://thesmartlocal.co.th/

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in Chiang Mai

Exploring the unique restaurants in Chiang Mai? Here are some frequently asked questions to guide your culinary journey.

What do people eat for breakfast in Chiang Mai?

In Chiang Mai, breakfast often consists of traditional Thai dishes that are both flavorful and filling. Rice porridge, known as “jok,” is a popular choice, often served with minced pork, ginger, and green onions. Street vendors also offer a variety of noodle soups. It’s not uncommon to see locals enjoying a bowl of “khao soi,” a Northern Thai curry noodle soup, to start their day. For those seeking unique restaurants in Chiang Mai, many cafes offer Western-style breakfasts with a Thai twist.

What is Chiang Mai famous food?

Chiang Mai is renowned for its Northern Thai cuisine, which is distinct from other regions of Thailand. “Khao soi,” a creamy coconut curry noodle soup, is perhaps the most iconic dish. “Sai ua,” or Northern Thai sausage, and “nam prik ong,” a spicy tomato and minced pork dip, are also local favorites that shouldn’t be missed.

What are the top three foods to eat in Thailand?

Thailand boasts a rich culinary heritage, and while it’s challenging to narrow down just three must-try dishes, “Pad Thai” (stir-fried noodles), “Tom Yum Goong” (spicy shrimp soup), and “Green Curry” are often top picks for many visitors. Each dish offers a unique blend of flavors, showcasing the complexity and depth of Thai cuisine.

What is the national dish of Thailand?

The national dish of Thailand is “Pad Thai.” This stir-fried noodle dish, often served with shrimp or chicken, is a delightful mix of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Topped with crushed peanuts and a squeeze of lime, it’s a dish that encapsulates the essence of Thai cooking.

Traditional Pad Thai
Traditional Pad Thai in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Are there vegetarian options available in Chiang Mai?

Absolutely! Chiang Mai is a haven for vegetarians and vegans. Many restaurants offer meat-free versions of classic Thai dishes, and there are numerous vegetarian-only establishments in the city. For those exploring a unique restaurant in Chiang Mai, you’ll find that many cafes and eateries are accommodating to dietary preferences.

Is street food safe to eat in Chiang Mai?

Street food in Chiang Mai is generally safe to eat and is a vital part of the local culinary experience. However, it’s essential to choose vendors that appear clean and have a steady flow of customers. Freshly cooked dishes are typically a safer bet than items that have been sitting out.

How does Northern Thai cuisine differ from other regions?

Northern Thai cuisine, known as “Lanna” food, uses fresh herbs, spices, and a variety of meats. It tends to be less spicy than Southern Thai cuisine and often incorporates sticky rice instead of steamed rice. Unique ingredients like tamarind and pickled vegetables also feature prominently in Northern dishes.

Can I find international cuisine in Chiang Mai?

Yes, Chiang Mai is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse culinary scene. Apart from traditional Thai eateries, you’ll find a plethora of international restaurants serving Italian, Japanese, Indian, and many other global cuisines.

Final Thoughts on Unique Chiang Mai Restaurants

Chiang Mai, a gem in Thailand, with its rich cultural heritage and vibrant culinary scene, offers a gastronomic journey like no other. From traditional Thai eateries to modern cafes, the city is a haven for food enthusiasts. Whether you’re seeking the authentic flavors of Northern Thai cuisine or looking to indulge in a themed dining experience, there’s something for everyone.

The unique restaurants in Chiang Mai not only serve delectable dishes but also offer atmospheres that transport you to different worlds. This makes each meal a memorable experience. As you fly to Thailand and explore the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, take the time to savor its diverse culinary offerings and discover the flavors that make this city a top food destination.

The top restaurants in Chiang Mai for all types of travelers
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