The best vegetarian restaurant in Chiang Mai is not a well-known place on Nimmanhemin Soi 17 that used to be a great deal in it’s old location 10 years ago. Nor are any of the tourist orientated vegetarian restaurants in the Thaphae Gate area the best in town. In my humble opinion, the best veggie place in Chiang Mai is a hidden gem called Nuson Vegetarian, or นุสนธิ์อาหารเจ nu-son aa-haan jee in Thai.
It is located just a little bit southeast of the old city on Ragang Road, which is used by many people as a shortcut to get from Changklan Road to the moat and the old city.
Chiang Mai has no shortage of pricey vegetarian restaurants that cater mostly to tourists, but there are also many inexpensive Thai vegetarian restaurants geared towards locals. You can spot these quite easily around town by looking for yellow signs with the Thai word เจ jey (“vegetarian”) in red.
And just how inexpensive are Nuson and other similar “J” restaurants? Well, you can eat a filling, delicious lunch for under $1 US. Yes, that’s right. When I eat at Nuson, I usually spend just 25 Baht per person. For the low price of 25 Baht you get a plate of brown rice served with 2 main dishes of your choice. And not only is it cheap and delicious, but this is fast food as well. At the front of the restaurant there is a display case containing half a dozen or so cooked main dishes such as green curry, fried mixed vegetables, eggplant curry, fried noodles, pumpkin curry, etc. Ordering is easy—You can simply point to which dishes you want with your rice. They will often serve a complimentary bowl of clear soup too! On this particular visit I had stir-fried holy-basil with soy protein and a spicy bamboo-shoot curry.
What else makes Nuson a great restaurant?
It’s the LOVE they put into making and serving the food!
I first discovered Nuson Vegetarian because I lived in the area. In the past year that I’ve been a regular customer they moved to a more prominent location 2 doors down from the original spot. And as the number of satisfied customers kept increasing, they purchased more tables and chairs to accommodate. People keep coming back because of the awesome food, the clean environment, and the kind attitude of the owners and staff.
I recently moved to the other side of town. So, unfortunately, I don’t get to eat at Nuson as much as I’d like to anymore. But when I still lived nearby I ate there probably 5 times a week on average. They do a good job of mixing up the menu and serving a large variety of dishes, so I never got bored with the food. There have been many days that I went in the morning for breakfast and came back again for lunch. Sundays were my least favorite day of the week because Nuson was closed (I’ve since found a good alternative that’s open on Sundays). Seriously though, if you like Thai vegetarian food, I can’t think of another restaurant that does a better job. But don’t take my word for it—Go there and see for yourself!
Nuson Vegetarian is open from 7am to 3pm Mon-Sat. The best time to go is for breakfast or an early lunch when there is usually a greater variety of dishes still available. In addition to main dishes over rice, they also serve noodles such as vegetarian Tom-yum noodle soup. If you show up near closing time in the afternoon and a lot of the prepared food is gone, noodles make a good alternative. Many dishes may appear to have meaty bits in them, but rest assured those are just meat substitutes made from soy, mushrooms, etc. All of the prepared dishes are egg and dairy free as well, so vegans can enjoy eating here too!