Who needs meat? Chiang Mai is a prime destination for vegetarian goodness. Here are seven of our favourite veg-eateries, listed in no particular order. Enjoy!
1. Brown Rice Organic Bistro
Now in a new open-air space in the middle of the Old City, Brown Rice Organic Bistro is a lovely place to linger over healthy juices (G.O.D. – featuring chlorophyll, honey and coconut water – is the perfect refresher on a steamy day), homemade baked goods and a variety of delicious Thai fusion dishes made from scratch by award-winning Chef Duang. Don’t miss the Thai herbal salad, and arrive on a bicycle for a 10% discount!
2. Anchan Vegetarian
In existence for less than a year, Anchan Vegetarian is already rated number one out of 979 restaurants in Chiang Mai on TripAdvisor. An impressive feat, but as soon as you enter this lovingly decorated little second floor establishment off Nimman, you’ll understand the charm. Friendly staff serve up delicious Thai curries, fresh homemade butterfly pea juice and a killer deep fried banana flower salad, all made from organic, locally sourced ingredients.
3. Free Bird Café
As part of one of Chiang Mai’s most beloved non-profits, Thai Freedom House, Free Bird Cafe is the place to be when you’re looking to feel good inside and out. Their meat-free Burmese food is of the extra healthy variety – no deep-fried veggies here – but still manages to taste absolutely delicious, from the Burmese green tea leaf salad to the veggie-loaded khao soy. Used items and crafts made by refugee students are also for sale in the back, so give it a browse and support a great cause! Their new location is easy to find, just across the moat from the north gate.
4. Khun Churn
Stalwart of Chiang Mai veggie cuisine, this charming restaurant and garden off Nimman offers up one of the best lunch buffets in town. For a measly 129 baht you can dig into a massive spread of salads, noodles, soups, stir-fries and some faux-meat dishes which would impress the snootiest of carnivores in a blind tasting. Herb drinks and water are included in the price and the daily specials rotate constantly, so you can go there as often as you want!
5. Pun Pun
A local favourite, Pun Pun has operated out of a lovely outdoor space behind Wat Suan Dok for over six years, and just opened up a new branch on Suthep Road behind CMU. Part of a project aimed at supporting local organic farmers and sustainable agriculture, much of Pun Pun’s produce comes from their farm on the outskirts of the city. Both restaurant locations are entirely outdoors, serving up refreshing juices and teas as well as a wide variety of wholesome, vegetarian Thai favourites. Don’t miss the beautifully presented and surprisingly tasty deep fried edible flower salad or the tangy Indian curry with homemade whole wheat roti.
6. ImmAim Vegetarian Cafe
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” This is the motto at ImmAim, a family owned and lovingly operated vegetarian oasis located in the space formerly known as Pun Pun @ Santitham. ImmAim (which means ‘delight’) offers meat-free Thai and Western fusion favourites made from produce grown locally on owner O’s organic farm, including tonnes of tasty avocado dishes like the avocado pita sandwich and salsa mole. Don’t miss the excellent smoothies or the Kao Yam Phuket, a spicy brown rice salad made from O’s mother’s recipe that can’t be found anywhere else in Chiang Mai!
7. Morning Glory
Formerly known as Mai Kaidee’s, this teeny eatery is owned and operated by the lovely Duan Kaidee, sister of the famous Mai who runs multiple locations in Bangkok. Don’t dismiss the rather unimpressive-looking nook just because it’s in the middle of tourist town (and steps away from the Zoe complex); the newly renamed Morning Glory serves up some of the best (and healthiest) vegetarian curries in town, along with unique specialties like pumpkin hummus. Cooking classes are also available, taught at Duan’s lovely home outside the city.
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