Review: Riverside Restaurant in Chiang Mai – Nice Service But Bland, Boring Food

The Riverside in Chiang Mai is one of the city’s most celebrated restaurants so, on my last visit to Chiang Mai I was thrilled to be going there. Needless to say, when we were served one of the worst meals any of us had ever eaten, we were surprised.

As a Westerner living in Thailand, I will sometimes get food I don’t enjoy because it’s for the typical Thai taste palate. At The Riverside, we were served a meal that wasn’t delicious for either myself or the three Thais I went with, so it didn’t succeed with the Thai palate either.

Atmosphere at The Riverside – The Riverside is built, as its name suggests, right next to the river in Chiang Mai. It is a beautiful restaurant, all wooden decks, hardwood floors and wooden tables and overlooking a large wooden patio with a boat tied up to it, which you can also eat inside.

It is pretty at night with the breeze coming off the river too and all lit up with Thai lanterns.

Staff at The Riverside – The staff is friendly and helpful and the service fast. We ordered seven dishes and the first of them arrived in less than 10 minutes, with drinks appearing only a couple of minutes after we placed our order. The staff is also polite as you are leaving, all saying “Thank you” and giving you a wai.

The Food – As I already mentioned, unfortunately, the food at The Riverside was probably one of the worst meals I’ve eaten in years. I went with three Thai friends, two of whom had had drinks there before but hadn’t ordered food, so the restaurant was new for all of us.

We ordered seven different dishes – salami pizza, a spicy Thai salad, sweet sausages, a plate of strips of beef, a platter of various Thai hors d-oeuvres, chicken cooked in pandanus leaves and a spicy seafood souffle. Everything arrived within ten minutes, which was fast, and it looked beautiful but from the first mouthful we all realized how disappointing the taste was.

In fact, nothing tasted of anything.

I honestly didn’t think it was possible to make a pizza with salami, green peppers, onions and cheese and not be able to taste anything except for an incredibly dry and tasteless crust. Figuring that the Thai food would be better, we moved onto that only to be even more disappointed.

The spicy dishes had no taste (so how you could call it ‘spicy’ is beyond me), and the stereotypical Thai dishes were so unrecognizable it was strange. After twenty minutes or so struggling with the food, we gave up and asked for the check.

Later, we went onto the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai where we bought incredibly cheap street food that was delicious, more like The Riverside’ food should have been.

The Prices – One thing you cannot complain about at The Riverside are the prices. Every dish is reasonably priced and some are simply cheap!

Pizza was only 150 baht and was a large size, and most of the Thai dishes were 90 baht or less. If the food had actually been tasty, The Riverside would now be one of my favorite Chiang Mai restaurants as you certainly can’t fault the price.

Overall, if you like food that tastes of something, you won’t enjoy the Riverside restaurant in Chiang Mai.

We did notice while we were there that 90% of their clientele was Western and not Thai, which normally states that the food is not really that good (if a restaurant is crowded with Thais in Thailand you can guarantee it’s good as Thais will not eat at bad restaurants – ever).

All we could figure out was the food was made to Western taste, but to a Western taste that only likes incredibly bland food, as I love Western food and this food wasn’t anything like any Western food I’ve tasted before.

If you want to eat at The Riverside because of the food, seriously, don’t bother. If you want to eat because the restaurant is cheap and in a great location then The Riverside should please you. Otherwise eat at one of the other river side restaurants instead.

The Riverside in Chiang Mai is located at 9-11 Charoenrat Road next to the river.