While Chiang Mai’s first McDonalds drive thru has caused quite a moo, another benchmark of hip and modern is the city’s growing vegetarian and coffee shop options.
Salad Concept: 4 out of 5 hi-so Thais agree the salads here are so big they could feed an army of rabbits. Luscious desserts and good coffee too. Nimanhaemin Road Soi 13.
The Cat House: Foodies will appreciate Jackie and Steve’s attention to delicious detail and crisp chemistry. One of my favorites. Chiang Moi Kao Soi 3.
Pun Pun: Located at Wat Suan Dok on Suthep Road, this stashed away organic restaurant is popular with hip expats and Thais. Once you are on the wat grounds, you should see ATM machines on your right, you’ll want to turn here. Warning: slow food.
Good Health: is a little eatery and shop for organic and natural foods and products. 48/4-5 Sridonchai Road next to the Suriwong Book Centre.
Blue Diamond: It’s crazy crowded with granolas, earth muffins, huggers of trees and touristic types. Free wifi and bakery heaven. Moonmuang, Soi 9
AUM Vegetarian: My friend Janice turned me on to this place. They serve sushi! (Well, when the sushi chef is there.) One of the oldest vegetarian restaurants, books for trade here; enjoy people watching at the ever-busy Tha Phae Gate. Moon Muang Road
DinDee Cafe: The only mud house, as far as I know, in CM. Located at CMU’s Art Museum, serves Japanese Thai fusion.
I’ve said it before and it bears saying again: Best Vegetarian is Tien Sieng by CM Gate, look for yellow signage (facing north or with the gate behind you, it will be on your right). It’s 20 baht for two items and rice! Cheap and yummy is always good in my book.
Now when you’ve exhausted your pocketbook (aka Starbucks) but still need 3 cups of coffee and tea, CM is a great city for independent coffee shops. Inexhaustible really. The following list is just a sampler!
Rich Coffee: almost tree house-like, free wifi, on the north end of the moat, before Chang Phuak Gate if you are heading west. 67/1 Sripoom Road.
Cafe de Thaan Aoan: free wifi, excellent staff, clean, tasty smoothies, breakfast and lunch too. Closed Tuesdays. 154/5 Prapokklao Road.
Love at First Bite: Walk/bike/ride to this out of the way garden for coffee and cheesecake. Close to Duke’s by the river. Very popular for good reason. Closed on Mondays. Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road Soi 1.
Miss Chocolate: Free wifi with laptop for quick email checks! Surrounded by art galleries, this Lanna style coffee house has good treats, chocolate (duh) and an easy-on-the-eyes hunk, I mean, batista. On 89 Charoenraj Road by the River Ping on the other side of Warorot Market and close to the Good View Restaurant.
And! not unlike my taste in men, I have a new favorite: Akha Ama. Run by the amazing Lee, support his village and the Akha people by enjoying his good brew. Free wifi. Located in “Santi Town” on Hassadhiseiwee Road Soi 5 and the (new location) by Wat Phra Sing.