Chiang Mai is an expat hotspot of Southeast Asia and, as a result, offers limitless food options for both Thai and international cuisine. Thai food is probably the most famous of the South-east Asian styles and I enjoy indulging in it regularly. After a five-day streak of eating Khao Soi, however, I am often craving something entirely different. It is the comforting embrace of the food from the West, which provides me with a touch of home. Feeling slight fatigue from Asian food is something many travellers experience. Luckily, Thailand offers a huge variety of Western food. Among them, the good old Burger.
I am kind of a hipster snob when it comes to Burgers. The American Burger, found at places like In & Out, is a divine creation for me. Treating it with the respect it deserves means glorifying how it is made. A Burger needs to be greasy. It is not supposed to be packed with veggies to give you a Vitamin C overload. Burgers are not healthy, period. The Taste comes mainly from the fatty ingredients, roasted flavours and quality meat.
As many great chefs, such as Matty Matheson have noticed, the secret to a good Burger is the toasted bun. That means putting beautiful butter on the bun and then toasting it on the grill or in the pan. It makes the bun look shiny and you can squeeze the juice out of it as a result. The patty should always be medium to medium-well, high-quality beef. It needs to be seasoned delicately so it actually tastes like something. Pair this with cheese, caramelised onions and a good and fatty sauce and you’ll have a foodgasm happening right in your mouth.
I made it my mission to check out all the Burger places that Chiang Mai offers. There are many of them, some easy to find, others only available during certain dates. The prices range from cheap to farang prices. What follows is my ranking of the best burger places in Chiang Mai. My sole criteria are taste, taste and taste. If you have any other Burger places that you think I should try out, please do feel free to mention them in the comments. I will test them personally and add them to the guide. This is, of course, my personal taste and opinion and I did not get anything from any of the mentioned establishments.
#12 The Duke’s at MAYA
The Duke’s is one of the more popular chain restaurants, with four locations in Chiang Mai alone. They offer all kinds of American staples, such as Spare Ribs, Steaks and, of course, Burgers. Overall, I was not very impressed with their Bacon Cheeseburger, as it did not have a lot of taste in it. Add to that a rather expensive price tag of around 200 Baht.
MAYA Shopping Mall, 3rd floor. Open daily 11 am – 10 pm.
#11 Classic Burgers
Classic Burgers is one of the many food places you will find inside the Old City of Chiang Mai. You will be seated in a lovely and small window front area right next to the kitchen. What put me off here was a rather unfriendly staff that did not make me and my friend feel welcome. The Burger itself did not taste of much, and I was appalled by the huge volume that the bread took up.
Moon Muang Rd Lane 9, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50300. Open daily 10 am – 10 pm.
#10 Fern Forest Café
Also in the old city, Fern Forest Café is a rather hipster place frequented by both upper-class Thais and Chinese tourists. They have a large selection of both baked desserts and comforting food. The staff is attentive and the atmosphere is rather beautiful and cosy – a quiet escape in the middle of a bustling city. Their take on the Bacon Cheeseburger, however, looks better than it tastes. I appreciate the fancy looking side of salad, but the Burger itself was bland and the meat slightly overcooked (a sin when you order it medium). With its 200 Baht price tag, I would have expected a bit more flavour.
#9 Papa Rock Pub and Restaurant
Located about five kilometres outside of the city, Papa Rock offers a haven for many expats in Chiang Mai. Regular live bands make hanging out here a cultural delight. The atmosphere, surrounded by roosters and gambling neighbours, is a tad bit more authentic than what you would get in the old city. It is indeed a British enclave in the middle of the Thai mountains. The star of the show was not actually the Burger, but the Sunday roast served here full-day on Sundays.If you are a Brit craving a taste of home I recommend going here and indulging in the beautifully presented Chicken Breast with skin. The Burger, however, did not impress me too much. Not a lot of flavour on the meat and a tad bit overcooked.
Thanon Somphot Chiang Mai 700 Pi, 50100 Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai. Open daily noon – 10 pm.
#8 Rustic & Blue
As the most hipster place in Chiang Mai, Rustic & Blue serves “black tea strawberry jams” and “Rosemary gooseberry teas”. It is a place acclaimed by both farang and hordes of Chinese tourists coming in for the selfie. The staff is indeed friendly, but what would you expect from one of the most expensive places in town? With a price tag of 399 Baht, I expected their Bacon Cheeseburger to blow my mind. Indeed, it comes with “beer onions”, whatever that is supposed to mean. The end product did convince me: Juicy and flavourful, with an impressive presentation. It is just the price that turned me off quite a bit here since the Burger was nothing overtly creative or innovative.
Nimmana Haeminda Rd Lane 7, Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200. Open daily 8:30 am – 9 pm.
#7 Beast Burger
Located near Nimman, Beast Burger has quickly made a name for itself. Can the young staff live up to its reputation though? I liked the high quality of the ingredients and the taste of the Burger. Their waffle fries were what really got me going though, as they pair perfectly with the burger. There was, however, something missing for my taste. The touch of grease that makes a good Burger a perfect Burger. I found that in the upcoming places.
#6 Steveo’s Burgers
#5 Rock Me Burger
Loi Kroh Road is the sleazy part of Chiang Mai. Located just outside the Old City, and leading all the way to the Ping river, this is where most girly bars and sexy massage parlours are situated. In the midst of middle-aged Thai woman shouting “Hello sexy man, massage?” at you, you might find one or two outstanding food places. Rock Me Burger is among them, sitting right at the beginning of Loi Kroh. Ordering a Burger here will get you a monster-sized Burger that is wonderfully greasy. I opted for the Pineapple one and I was not disappointed: This dripping delight is flavourful and delicious. There are only a few moments in life as satisfying as biting into a Burger and having all the juice drip onto your plate. They even give you fries and a huge onion ring with your burger!
#4 Burger Box
Ploen Ruedee Night Market is one of those places that I want to visit almost every day. Situated close to the Night Bazaar, this international food court offers Brick Oven Pizza, Taiwanese Pork Buns, delicious Curries and, of course, Burgers. Burger Box is a food truck right across the entrance of the market. Facing the back of the live music stage, their staff was a bit reserved when I got there. But I guess it’s the food that counts! They offer incredibly juicy burgers at a bargain price of around 100 Baht per item. A greasy delight! Their fries, however, are not recommended. Far from crispy, they are dripping with frying oil – mushy! Burger Box also has a small restaurant near Chiang Mai University.
Ploen Ruedee Night Market, Chang Moi, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50100. Open 5 pm – midnight. Closed on Sundays,
#3 Café de JJ
Opened in 2016, Cafe de JJ invites you into a small but cosy retreat near the stresses of MAYA mall. The menu, prepared by Scotty’s lovely wife, gives you a comforting slice of home. When I got here for the first time, I tried their chicken sandwich, which overwhelmed me with flavour. Their utilising of the chicken thigh to get more flavour already showed me that experts are at work here. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients, as well as Scotty’s personal twist on these all time classics. Apart from their amazing Burgers, I deeply recommend going here for their fries alone. They have the most flavorful fries I have tasted in my whole life. Get a Burger with fries for just 149 Baht.
Huay Kaew Soi 2, Tambon Su Thep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200. Open 7:30 am – 6:30 pm, closed on Sundays.
#2 Vikings Jungle
While travelling, I sometimes have these moments of happiness. I am a simple man, not needing much to experience such moments. Romantic Thai music out of a small radio, a friggin’ Pug, a beer and a Cheeseburger. That’s all I need. Near a small pond and in the shade of trees, surrounded by hammocks, I get greeted by a pug and a female Pit Bull named “Bacon”. The owner of Viking Jungle is indeed a true Viking. And his menu is astonishing. Apart from the usual Burgers and fries, he offers Chicken Wings and monstrous Burgers serving four people. I admired the love that the staff clearly put into their product. And the Burger does live up to its reputation of being “Viking”. American cheese, wonderful beef and an amazing atmosphere make this place deserve a top spot on my list. Rent a scooter or hire an Uber to get here.
125 หมู่ ต แม่ เหี๊ ยะ อ เมือง Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200. Open 11 am – 9 pm. Closed on Mondays.
#1 Kitchen with Solhy
As you might have already realised, Nimman is the hot spot in Chiang Mai for good food. And there is one little Food Truck that frequents Nimman when the sun goes down. Kitchen with Solhy is a rather new project – a solar-powered Food Truck offering authentic American Burgers for a bargain price. The owner, Bruce, is a rather interesting personality. Thai by blood, he has spent most of his life in the US, thus speaks only limited Thai and perfect English. But more importantly, he speaks the language of Burgers. He understands that butter is an essential ingredient that needs to be put on the meat and the bun. He knows that a Burger must be greasy and full of flavour. And, boy, does he achieve it. His menu is no-nonsense: A Cheeseburger, three choices of sliders and fries. All from handpicked local sources, and would you just look at that artisan crafted bun! This is a place where nobody will look at you strangely if you order a second Burger. Or a third. If you are in Chiang Mai, you must find this oasis of joy. 100 Baht per Burger,
Nimmanhaemin Road, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, 50200 opens on the north end of the street (near McDonald’s), usually from 7 pm until midnight, closed on Sundays.