Sitting on a windy back road in Mae Rim, Lhong-Pa Coffee Bar and Home Cooking is the perfect place to escape the noise and chaos of the city. Nestled between trees and lush gardens, Lhong-Pa is the definition of serenity – the only sounds that pierce the silence are the whirr of espresso machines and the soft lilt of Thai instrumental music. The outdoor café opened four months ago and is managed by four friends who met while they were studying music together at Payap University. Their playful attitude is infectious and spreads to everyone they encounter, customers and staff alike. An afternoon spent here with these fun guys, all while grazing on plates of Caesar salad, spaghetti carbonara and fish and chips, would leave anyone feeling rejuvenated. Plus, they’ve got an extensive drink menu (pots of drip coffee and tea as well as creamy lattes, cappuccinos and Italian sodas) for those interested in spending a long afternoon sipping something cold and sweet at one of the many secluded tables on the property.
Open daily, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
236/1 Namtok Mae Sa Road, Mae Rim
080 501 3028
Yet another stunning oasis in Mae Rim for us to Instagram from and Check In to! Over 60 rai of paddy fields and surrounding mountain land (with an in-house waterfall, no less!) can be seen from the contemporary Asian dining villa where cool breezes, chilled lounge music, fantastic coffees, a decent wine cellar and a limited but delicious menu of Asian fusion cuisine is available on tap. The pad thai is a house favourite and comes with rich ingredients and flavours, the spaghetti with salted fish and dried chillli may not suit all palettes, but is delish for those who can handle a little fire, and crowd pleasers such as carbonara should cover all taste bases. Lovely herbal drinks, fresh fruit juices and teas are available to while away a lazy afternoon. If you are in no rush to leave, then check in to one of the five villas, all with breathtaking views of the vistas, and sink into a saltwater infinity pool with a sundowner.
Dining room open daily, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
60 Moo 12 Mae Ram, Mae Rim
081 033 8181 , 081 455 4646
Petchburirama House of Teas
Located on route 3009 in Mae Rim, this cute little teashop is run by a 30-something couple, Jad and Pon Kumsab. Besides the unique signs and walls of antiques around the shop, the food menu is thoroughly above par. Think Japanese cuisine with a Thai twist, cooked fresh by Pon herself, who grew up in Japan working at her family’s restaurant near Disneyland Tokyo. Popular dishes include yummy miso pork steak and wasabi pork steak, with prices ranging from just 68-108 baht a dish. The 26 tea blends on offer can be enjoyed hot or iced, and served with syrup, honey and assorted cookies. Try the hot genmai cha (Japanese green tea with roasted rice) which also comes with a free iced lychee tea sampler. Jad also recommends the Petchburirama house blend, Sweet Memory chocolate blend, Marilyn Monroe floral blend, Shangri-la floral blend, 14 Again ginger blend and Hillside cinnamon blend. Full tea sets are a steal, priced between 48-188 baht.
Open daily, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (closed Mondays)
171 Moo 3, Tambon Seluang, Mae Rim (on route 3009, 32 km from Chiang Mai)
090 820 0030
NAP Gastro Bar
Our favourite street-side bar on Nimman is growing up! The wonderfully off-licence Kamrai (wholesale booze shop by day, pavement social phenomenon by night) has sprouted a sophisticated gastro bar next door. The menu is limited, but apart from a decent, though modest, range of wines from Australia, Italy and Chile in the 800-1,200 baht range, they also serve spirits, draft and bottled beers…or you can pop into the booze shop next door and buy your poison, bring it over to NAP and nibble on a peanut tower, French fries, spicy Thai grilled pork, mixed sausages and salads. Or, chow down on a more filling meal including pasta, barbeque and some seafood dishes. Prices are very reasonable with a special brunch set of spaghetti, salad and orange juice for only 150 baht. Only opened a month or so, NAP is already a crowd favourite and seems to be bursting at the seams most nights.
Open daily, noon – midnight
Nimmanhemin Road, next to Kamrai Liquor Store
087 787 5007
From fine dining devotees O and Lek comes a brand new restaurant that is destined to become a local favourite. Named for its concept of mixing a diverse variety of flavours and styles, Casa Diverso is a labour of love for manager O and Chef Lek. With indoor and outdoor dining space, the décor is warm and inviting, a colourful blend of traditional Thai style and Western pop art. Here, excellent service meets delicious Thai, European and Mediterranean cuisine. The kitchen is happy to tailor any dish to your liking, and anything you don’t love can be sent right back. Of course, that probably won’t be a problem with a menu of reasonably priced (150-590 baht) yet fabulous fusion dishes, from roasted rack of lamb (served with yummy homemade garlic fries), salmon fettucine and deep fried sea bass with Thai herbs. Sip an array of wines by the bottle and don’t miss dessert – the chocolate mousse is divine. Casa Diverso is happy to host private events as well – just tell them the number of people and your budget and they will create a customised feast just for you!
Open daily, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
184/1 Rachamanka Road
Facebook: Casa Diverso
084 174 0699
Who would’ve thunk it? Tucked away on the soi-lette off Nimmanhaemin is a row of townhouses. Bang smack in the middle of this trendy line-up of print art galleries, coffee shops, ice cream and yoghurt hangouts is an entrance with a teeny tiny lift which will slowly boost you up to a fifth floor Japanese restaurant with panoramic views of Nimman and Doi Suthep beyond. A perfect place for a romantic tête-á-tête over a cold beer or sake and a very reasonably priced Japanese meal. There is nothing mindblowing about the food – there are the template sashimis and tempuras, tatakis and sushis (the owner is inordinately proud of his flower sushi, prettily arranged for a Facebook upload) – but the view is priceless, and when a meal for four along with a few drinks costs less than 400 baht per person, you know you’ve found value.
Open daily, 6.30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
14/2, 5th Floor, Rooftop Nimmanhaemin Soi (between soi 3 and 5)
083 573 3888
Fresh & Wraps
Offering a menu chockfull of freshly prepared panini sandwiches, salads and desserts, it’s no wonder that the newly opened Fresh & Wraps Restobar has quickly become a fixture on Moon Muang Road for tourists and locals alike. The menu is an expansive collection of Western favourites, including classic brunch items (rich eggs benedict, poached eggs with smoked salmon, biscuits and creamy gravy) as well as hearty pressed sandwiches served on delicious focaccia bread and large salads of mango and buttery avocado. Patrons can enjoy their meal on the large outdoor patio, a great spot for large dinners and people watching, or in the small space inside, whose décor looks like it was snatched right out of a trendy New York bistro. For those looking to grab food on the go, the restaurant also offers takeaway treats and well-priced lattes and cappuccinos.
Open daily, 8.30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
125 Moon Muang Road (next to Soi 5)
084 931 6053
Codee! Bar & Restaurant
In the sea of bars and restaurants that blankets Chiang Mai’s old city, it may seem that one is just as good as any other. But if you’re looking for a place with true charm, look no further than Codee! (the exclamation point is part of the name), tucked onto a cosy street corner in the northeast corner of the old city. At Codee!, the biggest draw is the sweet and friendly owners and staff. May, Num and Poppy are some the most fun people you’ll meet in the city, and the bar is a perfect spot to gather with large groups, thanks to its spacious layout, upstairs and downstairs seating, and large tables. Shoot a game of pool or grab a board game and a beer tower and spend the evening with new friends and old. The food is surprisingly fantastic, from spicy cashew chicken to hearty club sandwiches with fries, perfect for soaking up 90-baht mojitos or Poppy’s special Sangsom soda shot.
Open daily, 10 a.m. – late
Intersection of Moon Muang Soi 9 and Sriphum Soi 1
093 305 7930
1st Time Restaurant
This unique little eatery, built from scratch by the owner/chef who also happens to be a carpenter, features a long, narrow dining room and back courtyard, perfect for laidback lingering. Serving up an array of Mediterranean, Arabic and Thai foods, all Halal, with tonnes of vegetarian options, the food here is quite far from average. The menu includes salads, rice and pasta, soups, pizzas, tapas, meats and vegetables, with plenty of rare items including bovine tongue, brains, shin of beef and rare fishes – including manta ray, for the bravest among you. Basically, if you want to eat just about anything, you can do it here. For those looking for something a bit simpler, the falafel, moussaka, seafood paella, fried mackerel with creamy cilantro, garlic and sesame sauce, aubergine with tomato salad and Mediterranean salad. Prices are reasonable, ranging from 80 to 230 baht except specialty and off-menu dishes. And don’t miss the Spanish rice pudding for dessert! The lunch menu – along with extended hours – is coming soon, and will feature shawarma and Egyptian Style kebabs. Catering and off-menu dishes available by reservation.
Open daily, 5 p.m. – midnight (closed on Sundays)
19/1 Chareonprathet Soi 6
093 136 7025