On one of my frequent trips to Chiang Mai, a couple of years ago, a Thai friend who loves western food introduced me to a teeny tiny place called Funky Monkey Cafe. Open-air and cute but basic, Funky Monkey Cafe, he told me, served the best falafel in Thailand. Now, if you’re like me, falafel probably isn’t what you’re expecting to eat when you’re on a trip to northern Thailand but, I dutifully went along with him and, boy, am I happy I did. Funky Monkey Cafe, it turned out, is popular with both Westerners and Thais for its dirt cheap food, that just happens to be absolutely incredible.
Location of Funky Monkey Cafe in Chiang Mai – Once just a one location cafe, in recent years, Funky Monkey Cafe has become so popular they now have two locations. My normal hangout is the cafe at Moonmuang Road, easy to find as it’s close to the ancient moat. The second location, which is actually the original cafe, is in front of a popular backpacker guest house, Julie’s Guesthouse on Rachapakinai Road.
What Is Funky Monkey Cafe? – Chiang Mai is full of cute cafes, restaurants and coffee shops. Built in traditional Thai style, often open-sided or open-air, they’re nothing but an open-ended shop front stuffed with a few chairs and tables and facilities to cook. Funky Monkey Cafe isn’t that much different. Small and basic, from the outside it’s more like a food stall with a few colorful chairs and stools, but hey I don’t go for the design, I go for the food.
The Food – Funky Monkey Cafe is famous in Chiang Mai, not only for how great their food tastes but for the unbelievable prices. Known for their Thailand’s-best falafel, they also have a menu that includes breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, a vegetarian plate, killer iced coffee drinks and just about the best smoothies in the world.
On my first visit, I started off with what they call a “Super Quick Iced Coffee”. Appearing at our table in about a minute and a half flat, it’s rich, creamy, only slightly sweet and has a great coffee kick and all for the bargain price of 30 baht ($1).
My thirst satiated, we then moved on to the real deal – the meal. My friend, who’d eaten there a hundred times ordered his favorite – the Mediterranean Vegetarian Platter. This is a large plate of falafel, hummus, tabouleh, a couple of pieces of pita bread and a little bit of salad. At 70 baht, or $2.30, there’s not a deal in Chiang Mai as good.
I ordered a fish taco, which I was told was a specialty and, that was perfectly cooked, slightly spiced, tasty and satisfying. Sixty baht, or $2, was the damage.
Since my first visit, I’ve eaten everything on the Funky Monkey Cafe menu, several times over. Not one thing is not delicious. I particularly recommend their homemade yoghurt, muesli and fresh fruit (40 baht or $1.30), if you like veggie burgers, you’ll love theirs and, for the meat version, the pork burger is lovely. For dessert, the brownie is the thing.
Finally, at any visit to the Funky Monkey Cafe you have to try one of their smoothies. Several times when I’ve been there, I’ve met budget travelers who came halfway across Chiang Mai just to drink a Funky Monkey Smoothie – the cafe’s coffee and banana smoothie. Their fruit smoothies are lovely too.
Funky Monkey Cafe has the sweetest and funniest staff, it’s relaxing and mellow, the food is awesome and, when you can walk out stuffed to the gills for less than $2.50, why aren’t you already sitting there?
They open at 8am and close around 8pm, every day.