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Chiang Mai Restaurants

Bannrai Yarmyen Restaurant
14 Moo 3 Faham Road
Chiang Mai
Tel: 66 53 247 999

Tucked away on a quiet lane in the burbs about one and a half miles northeast of the old city, downhome Baanrai Yarmyen (the name means "country house at sunset'') lies far beyond the orbit of most tourists. But for 50 years, its authentic Chiang Mai food and bucolic garden have drawn locals and in-the-know expats. The unpretentious fare includes kaeng jin gai hoom, a mild, northern Thai–style chicken curry with Kaffir lime, as well as a variety of insect dishes, like rod duan, crunchy, deep-fried bamboo worms, which are definitely an acquired taste. An excellent acoustic band knocks out Thai classics as well as American country tunes. Not to be confused with Baan Rai Steak House, near the Ping River on Charoenrat Road.

Open daily 11 am to midnight.

Dalaabaa Bar & Restaurant
113 Bamrungraj Road
Chiang Mai
Thailand 50000
Tel: 66 53 242 491

Set in a sleek, glass-sided house that looks like it was lifted from an L.A. canyon, the former Indian consulate was reincarnated in 2004 as one of Chiang Mai's hippest eateries. Mind your way negotiating the entrance of stepping stones laid out in a reflecting pool, and settle down at a candlelit table. Low lighting and a ruby-red color scheme conjure romance, though the mood is slightly marred by the neon glow of Heineken and Jim Beam signs. However, the kitchen's take on contemporary Thai cuisine is innovative—order the crab-filled spring rolls, which are shaped like breadsticks and deep-fried. Reservations are suggested in the high season.

Open daily 6 pm to midnight.

25.29 Charoenrat Road
Chiang Mai
Thailand 50000
Tel: 66 53 248 601

Location and atmosphere, history and food mix happily in this relaxed restaurant and art gallery inside an 1892 teakwood building along the Ping River. Descendants of the original owner converted the family store to a restaurant in 1989, and the architectural conservation awards, glowing food reviews, and VIP clients (including a 1996 visit by Hillary Clinton) have rolled in ever since. Ask for a waterfront table beneath the vaulting tamarind tree, and order Chiang Mai specialties such as kaeng ung lay, a coconut milk–free pork curry slow-cooked with ginger, garlic, chili, and tamarind and served with sticky rice. A Western menu is also available, but in such a quintessentially Thai setting, pork fondue seems a sacrilege. Stop in between 7 and 9 pm to hear live jazz at a small adjacent bar.

Open daily noon to midnight.

Hotel Photo
House Restaurant, Wine and Tapas Bar
199 Moonmuang Road
Chiang Mai
Thailand 50200
Tel: 66 53 419 011

In 2003, Danish-born businessman Hans Christensen rehabbed this prewar house a few hundred yards north of Thapae Gate into a swank dining room. The fusion and international fare served was nice enough, but the most interesting dining option is the adjacent tapas bar that he added two years later, a breezy terrace outfitted with Middle Eastern ottomans and local rattan chairs. The city's considerable expat community dines on familiar dishes with a Thai twist, like grilled shrimp with roasted chili or chicken satay on fragrant lemongrass skewers. And since each plate comes in at $4 or less, you'll have plenty of cash left over for the on-site boutique, Ginger.

Open daily 6 to 10:30 pm.

Huen Phen
112 Rachamankha Road
Chiang Mai
Thailand 50200
Tel: 66 53 277 103

Don't be put off by the garage-sale look of Poomjai Burusapat's cozy eatery in the heart of the old city, where the 15 small tables seem buried beneath salvaged temple carvings, Chinese lanterns, and Dalí prints. Despite the surrealism, the tropical northern Thai specialties—chicken wings grilled with sliced, aromatic lemongrass; a tart, fiery salad of grapefruit-like pomelo and wafer-thin slices of green chili—are deliciously simple, not to mention inexpensive (plates run about $2 to $3 apiece).

Open daily 5 to 10 pm.

Just Khao Soy
108/2 Charoenprathet Road
Chiang Mai
Thailand 50100
Tel: 66 53 818 641

Khao soy, a curry noodle soup served with meat and a range of condiments, is Chiang Mai's signature street food. For travelers who can't stomach the thought—or the questionable hygiene—of a sidewalk meal, Shane and Sriphan Beary offer a clean, air-conditioned restaurant just 100 yards north of the Chedi. The price (about $3 or $4, depending on meat selection) is right, and the presentation is eye-catching, with the soup bowl served on an artist's palette surrounded by condiments (pickled cabbage, limes, chili paste, sugar, fish sauce), so customers can season to suit their personal tastes.

Open daily 11 am to 11 pm.

Hotel Photo
Le Grand Lanna
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai
51/4 Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Road Moo 1
Chiang Mai
Thailand 50000
Tel: 66 53 888 888

The Mandarin Oriental has several of the city's most well-regarded food establishments, including Fujian (contemporary Chinese) and Farang Ses (French). But the pick of the litter is Le Grand Lanna, a Thai restaurant set in a group of raised, antique-filled buildings shaded by enormous raintrees and cooled by mist-spraying fans. Chef Noppakorn uses the freshest ingredients possible to prepare popular Thai and Chiang Mai entrées, including kaeng hang-lay moo, a spicy northern curry with pork and pickled garlic, and yam som-o, a salad of pomelo, peanuts, and roasted red onion. Evening reservations are advisable for non–resort customers.

Open daily 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

Le Spice
31 Charoenprathet Road, Soi 6
Chiang Mai
Tel: 66 53 234 962

Vichaya Pitsuwan hails from Koh Lanta, an island east of Phuket, but her family's roots are in Pakistan, as evidenced by the photos of rural South Asian life hanging from the ocher-colored walls of this airy bistro. Her north Indian and Thai seafood dishes reflect both legacies. The friendly restaurant's halal kitchen serves juicy, piping-hot chicken tandoori to a largely expat clientele, as well as tourists taking a dinner break from the Night Bazaar, located just 50 yards to the west.

Hotel Photo
D2 Hotel Chiang Mai
100 Changklan Road
Chiang Mai
Thailand 50100
Tel: 66 53 999 999

The D2 hotel's in-house restaurant strives to be every bit as au courant as the hotel, down to the brushed-aluminum menus. Modern international cuisine is the message, with interesting Thai-fusion matchups like lemongrass- and ginger-infused martinis and spaghetti sai-ua, which turns out to be penne pasta tossed with savory Chiang Mai sausage, chilies, and Chinese basil. A mellow outdoor beer garden shaded by café umbrellas makes for a balmy break from the full-tilt Night Bazaar just a few steps away. However, the garden is only open during the winter.

Open daily 6:30 to 1 am.

Hotel Photo
Sala Mae Rim
Four Seasons Resort
Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road
Mae Rim
Thailand 50180
Tel: 66 53 298 181

The view from the Four Seasons ' 70-seat Thai restaurant—think verdant rice paddies—is so stunning that you'll swear it's been Photoshopped. The enchanting setting and high-end cuisine make it more than worth the half-hour drive north of Chiang Mai. Pop by the adjacent Elephant Bar for a Rice Field cocktail (gin, crème de banana, mango, pineapple, lime, and grapefruit juice topped with blue curaçao), then order such Thai classics as yum hua plee (banana-blossom salad). Hotel guests can request a special five-course set menu, limited to one couple per evening, served at an old barn. Evening reservations are recommended for non–resort customers.

Open daily 7 to 10 am, noon to 2:30 pm, and 6 to 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.