Small NGO cafe offering garden seating, indoor seating, free wi-fi, art magazines, coffees, smoothies and fruit shakes, vegetarian grilled sandwiches, hummus, salads, and Thai food. All proceeds from the cafe go to support Thai Freedom House, a language and arts community center for hill tribe and refugee families in northern Thailand. Previously located at 28 Santiluk Rd and also Moon Muang Soi prior to that. Price: Moderate more-less
Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Western, Thai, Burmese
116 Maneenoparat Rd (Sanam Kila)
Chiang Mai, Thailand 50300
081-028-5383
Closed now

Tue-Fri 9:30am-4:00pm, Sat-Sun 9:30am-8:00pm

more-less
reviews

Reviews

First Review by eatyourveggies
JasonNevin
JasonNevin
  • mostly-vegetarian
Contributions
+23

Great Food

4
Posted on 09 / 16 / 2014

Been 3 times and i love the warm oats for breakfast but the real highlight was the curries. Bursting with flavour.

There is no garden.

Pros: Location, Breakfast, Curries
Fedep
Fedep
  • vegan
Contributions
+41

Great Menu

4
Posted on 09 / 10 / 2014

Very original menu with many different vegan options available. We try the tea leaf salad which was good but not the best I have had. The yellow noodles were good but a bit dry, overcooked and not very tasty... I really liked the "Black and White" smoothie (almond, cocoa and coconut). It was refreshing and light. Some people might thing that is too watery but in my opinion it was perfect! My boyfriend loved the coffee and the gluten free brownie. The shop sells second hand clothes, Spirulina, Triphala an other natural goods. Great place and menu. The recipes could be better...

Pros: Charity project, Charity shop, Menu
Cons: Food can be better
Fluffylucy
Fluffylucy
  • mostly-vegetarian
Contributions
+11

great food for a good cause

5
Posted on 09 / 08 / 2014

Enjoy a great vegetarian meal, for a low price, in pleasant surrounds, while contributing to the welfare of those in need.

All the profits go to help Burmese refugees and members of other minority groups here in northern Thailand, so you can feed your body and soul at the same time.



reissausta ja ruokaa
reissausta ja ruokaa
  • vegan
Contributions
+124

Nice little cafe, good salad

4
Posted on 03 / 28 / 2014

I ate tea leaf salad and it was well spiced (not with chili) and good. There was only little bit of fermented tea leaves for taste.

I also had vegan key lime pie, which was not so tasty. It was still frozen.

My spouse had porridge (named warm oats of something) that was supposed to be with coconut milk, but it did not taste like coconut at all. Still it was good.

Nice atmosphere, not too far from any places inside the old town.

Pros: good tea leaf salad, nice atmosphere
Cons: key lime pie was frozen
nana0712
nana0712
  • mostly-vegetarian
Contributions
+9

Best Vegetarian in all of Chiang Mai

5
Posted on 06 / 05 / 2013

As a volunteer at Thai Freedom House, I get to eat in this lovely cafe everyday. Upon coming to Thailand, I found that eating vegetarian made me feel much better and I've begun to adopt a veggie lifestyle. This restaurant makes it fun and easy to begin my vegetarian lifestyle. There's SO many delicious options free of the nasty MSG and grease that is so present in all of the other establishments in Chiang Mai. The Tea Leaf Salad is...perfection. Really, anything the chef makes here is perfect and so fresh. I've never had fresher veggies or fruit! I've also never had the same meal twice...and I've been here for a while. I can't wait to (try) and try everything on the menu. SO DELICIOUS.

Pros: the cause, the staff, sweet location
agentbey
agentbey
  • vegan
Contributions
+36

The Bird that flew away

3
Posted on 03 / 10 / 2013

You ever have been to a restaurant that you love the staff, the cause and location but not the food. I am torn in writing this review because I really like what Free Bird Cafe's mission. I've have been three times to date.

The people behind this mission are awesome. However, food is not their business. Its a great idea and works for many people who are looking for something other than Thai food.

For me the food lacks luster. I ordered the famous Black and White smoothie. This could really be an awesome smoothie if it were smooth. The blended almonds are a bit gritty to be slurping through a straw. They could add more cacao powder to bring this to optimal goodness. The ice offsets the chocolate smoothness. I would suggest using frozen bananas instead of ice to give it more richness.

I ordered the Burmese Tea Salad and it was very delicious. But the portion could be prepared with one cup of more of leafy vegetables.

On my second visit I was not happy about my meal. I didn't finish it. My friend ate it out of pity and not being wasteful. I don't like wasting food at all. But the Pad Thai missed the basics of Pad Thai seasonings. For example, it didn't have any tamarind in the seasoning. Tasted more like buttered rice noodles.

I also ordered another smoothie without ice. I wanted to just get the coconut milk with mango. In my mind it would be this nice creamy blend. As I began to suck down this creation my tongue told my brain to stop. Why is there water in this smoothie? You can see the coconut milk separating from the water and the mango bits floating around. I sipped down a quarter of it and stopped.

I am not impressed with the food. So one last try. I really want to support the business and NGO. I met another friend there for lunch. Ordered the stir fried vegetables and the carrot pineapple juice. The juice was excellent!

Stir-fried you got to be kidding me. My blood pressure shot up from the amount of salt in this dish. It contained a good amount of vegetables but lacked original flavor. Basically, seasoned with soy sauce and salt. The red rice that comes with the dish is very good.

I hope the business continues to blossom and the free bird brings more goodness back to the nest.

Pros: NGO, Clean atmosphere, Location
Cons: Flavors, Smoothie uses too much water
freeprincebandar
freeprincebandar
  • vegan
Contributions
+184

So so food

3
Posted on 09 / 14 / 2012

The place looks nice except that if you want to sit upstairs you have to be willing to take off your shoes. Even though we don't eat with our feet, I feel that taking off shoes lessens my dining experience. The food was humdrum. Another diner warned us that they use a brand of soymilk which actually has real dairy milk in it, go figure. But that eliminates many items from the menu for vegans. Not a repeat.

Pros: social welfare enterprise
Cons: food not good, customers with shoes must sit outdoors
msvegan
msvegan
  • vegan
Contributions
+338

Below average food for Chang Mai

2
Posted on 12 / 07 / 2011

Despite all the rave reviews-by strangely single reviewers only- this place is nothing outstandingg. The menu is limited and offers nothing really unique. The food is over-priced for the quality and portion.

Im sure the owner's intent is good to help Burmese refugees, but, the menu and food really need some work. It might be better if they specialized in Burmese Veg cuisine as none of the dishes here impress or have much flavor. It is a place I want to give a better review to for intent but I cant because the food just wasnt good.

Updated from previous review on Monday December 05, 2011

Pros: Good.intentions
Cons: Limited menu, Flavorless, Overpriced
Nadir
Nadir
  • vegetarian
Contributions
+14

my favorite place in all of thailand

5
Posted on 11 / 02 / 2011

When I first got to Chiang Mai I decided to go straight to Free Bird Cafe for breakfast, as I had heard so many good things about it from fellow travelers. Alas, it was Monday and Free Bird was closed. And really this is the only mild complaint I have about Free Bird. Sure it is totally selfish to want the workers not to get a day off, but after tasting the absolutely amazing pickled green tea leaf salad, you will understand why I would love to see it open 7 all days.

Aside from that first day and the next Monday, I went to Free Brid everyday while I visited Chiang Mai. Sometimes for breakfast, sometimes for lunch, sometimes just for tea, I was instantly smitten with cafe with an amazing consious. The staff are beyond friendly and you can tell they love that you are there. They constantly offered to add hot water to my tea, even when I was more than willing to buy another pot.

The prices are beyond reasonable. And as I said before the Pickled green tea leaf salad was extraordinary. Facts are facts: this is beyond a doubt my favorite salad I have ever eaten. I ordered two the day I left Chiang Mai. And really & truly, as my bus got further and further away from Chaing Mai I wondered why I did not order a third.

As an added bonus there is a used clothing store on site. Sadly for me, most of the clothes are ladies, but I bought a few t shirts for myself and a dress and a few shirts for the lady I love.

That all profits go towards helping Burmese refugees makes what was already an amazing cafe near perfect.

Please note that during the week the cafe closes at 4:30 for good reason, as it morphs into an education center for those same Burmese refugees.

I can't lie, I more than 1/2 wanted to move to Chaing Mai and live next door to Free Bird Cafe, alas the stars were not aligned for this. But I can say any visit to Chaing Mai without a/numerous visit/s to Free Bird = you not doing it right. And if you are lucky you will be able to meet the amazingly adorable neighborhood kitty that will curl up next to you as you read/write/enjoy your tea/meal -- such an added bonus to such an amazing place.

Pros: amazing food, amazing staff, the garden
Cons: closed on monday, closed for dinner during the week
lisabyrd
lisabyrd
  • vegetarian
Contributions
+22

YAY!!!

5
Posted on 10 / 02 / 2011

Hello, ok, so I am totally biased since this is my cafe but I thought I would write a review anyway. Free Bird Cafe is the place that we at Thai Freedom House www.thaifreedomhouse.org share our love of food, health, happiness and giving with you. Each dish is prepared with love by our Burmese refugee students who work in our cafe/community center. Whether your stopping in for an espresso,latte, super food smoothie or breakfast or lunch, we hope you can appreciate the freshness of the locally grown and sold (organic when available) veggies and our sweet treats prepared daily. We love to share the cuisine of Thailand and of our students from Burma and Shan State along with information about travel in these areas in our community library.
Another bonus of eating here; 100% of the profits go to supporting our school/community learning center for Burmese refugees who have nowhere else to access education.
While your here check out our Pre Loved Charity Clothing Shop downstairs for some funky fashion finds :)
Thank you for all of your love and support!!!

FREE WIFI, COMFY SEATING INSIDE OR GARDEN TABLES, STUDENT ART GALLERY, INFO ON LOCAL BUSINESS' AND EVENTS AND MORE...

Pros: profits go to charity!, delicious local food, hard to find burmese treats
greengirle
greengirle
  • mostly-vegetarian
Contributions
+10

Good food for a good cause!!

5
Posted on 09 / 21 / 2011

Nestled in a sweet garden and surrounded by colorful murals, you'll find the Free Bird Cafe. The profit from the cafe directly funds a school for refugee children in the evening, the Freedom House. The menu has both western and Thai (more specifically Shan) foods you won't find at many other places. Both options are delicious. The food is fresh and authentic. The Thai food is spicy and flavorful, and the western food is home made. There are smoothies, herbal teas and gourmet coffees on the menu to compliment your food or to enjoy with free-wifi. It's a great place to come to eat, work or spend time with friends. There is a pre-loved clothing store downstairs with great treasures to browse through. Also, they will re-fill your water bottle for a small charge. A community cafe with a conscious!!

Pros: delicious, good cause, great music
Cons: hard to find, but worth it, only breakfast and lunch
reenievincent
reenievincent
  • vegan
Contributions
+15

A Veggie Gem in the City! SoooooYummy...!

5
Posted on 09 / 19 / 2011

I lived in Chiang Mai for 5 1/2 years and I can honestly say that after this place opened its doors I was eating here everyday! You can tell they use super high quality fresh ingredients from the local health food stores, and that's super important to me. They have a variety of Thai, Burmese and western dishes so I always found something on the menu that I loved. Usually when I eat out I order the same thing every time so I'm not disappointed but seriously, at this place, every meal will have you coming back for me. Do you see now why I ate here everyday? Oh and and the coffee...iced soy mochas are to die for! Also the lichee blueberry smoothie...luscious. I just have to mention the Burmese salad and the Green Tea Leaf salad...I'm so bummed I didn't try these two sooner! These two salads and an iced mocha soy latte will be my first order when I go back to Chiang Mai. The food's reason enough to check this place out, but they also have one of the best second hand shops in the city, right under the cafe. I found so many unique things in there...staff is also super sweet and cheerful. And, all proceeds from both cafe and shop go to the Freedom House school that teaches language and arts to Thai indigenous people and Burmese refugees. Eating and shopping for a good cause...need I say more? Anyway, I love Free Bird Cafe and recommend it with 5 big stars. Thank you!

Pros: delcious food , healthy, fresh ingredients, lots of choices
SKE
SKE
  • non-vegetarian
Contributions
+5

Free Bird Cafe - great eats serving great cause!

5
Posted on 09 / 19 / 2011

Love this cafe near Tha Pae gate. Sweet outdoor garden dining area. Yummy food and drinks: favorites include the Shan som tum, tea leaf salad, and coconut shakes. Several options for Shan food which one doesn't find hardly anywhere else.

And the income from the restaurant supports the school which serves Burmese refugees and hill tribe peoples, who cannot go to school otherwise. Check out the shop which sells really nice Pure Pai products and second hand clothing (donate too if you have extra items or baht).

Pros: great food , great cause, nice ambiance
SusanGarrison
SusanGarrison
  • non-vegetarian
Contributions
+5

good eats for a good cause

5
Posted on 09 / 17 / 2011

I loved hanging out at this cafe when I lived in Chiang Mai. The food is good, the smoothies and other beverages are great and the ambiance is excelent. A good place to meet and relax and have a refreshment for a great cause!

Pros: healthy, delicious, great ambiance
Cons: too small
pwn_thyself
pwn_thyself
  • non-vegetarian
Contributions
+5

You know when food just makes you feel good?

5
Posted on 09 / 16 / 2011

Look, i admit it, i am biased. They named a smoothie after me (but i ad flaxseed oil and bee pollen when i get it!) and that gets a guy's heart. But then they feed me, and i can taste the love.

Given that the cafe is not the purpose of the center, but rather a means to the end of funding the Thai Freedom House school, they really could have just thrown something together. But that isn't what they did! The menu is warm plentiful without being too many items, the staff is great, and i swear, eating there only ever leads to eating there more. My favorite is the Shan style som-tam which is so good i am not going to describe it, im just going to tell you to go and try it yourself.

Great for breakfasts and small brunches, envy we lucky Chiang Mai people, we get to go back again and again.

I know you might be worried i'm not on the up and up just because i am on the menu, but once you'll find it, i am sure i will see you there.

"sweet" dougie

Pros: unique dishes, SMOOTHIES, goes to a good cause
Cons: too small for a party, addictive
yourfacehxc
yourfacehxc
  • vegetarian
Contributions
+108

Warm atmosphere, average food

3
Posted on 02 / 13 / 2011

No hype here, very average spot. While the people and actual restaurant are cozy and warm, their food is lacking. The pumpkin soup I had was flavorless and oily. I couldn't even recognize it as pumpkin. Our hummus platter was unimpressive despite the focaccia bread. For 125 baht the serving we received was incredibly small, consisting of a tiny cup of hummus and a few raw vegetables. The flavor was good but a poor deal, without a doubt. The sandwiches were tasty but again, expensive for what they were. I realize the proceeds benefit a good cause but this spot is simply nothing write home about. 2 stars for the food, 4 stars for ambiance and well meaning.

Pros: Warm and cozy, Friendly, Good cause
Cons: Expensive, Small servings, Food is nothing special
eatyourveggies
eatyourveggies
  • vegan
Contributions
+9615

Adorable cafe!

4
Posted on 11 / 11 / 2010

I adore this place, but I only had breakfast there. The menu looks amazing though, so you must go!! Great smoothies with spirulina but they are kind of expensive. Such a great thing they have going on there with the school.



 

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Last updated: 2013/05/07

 

Added: 2009/07/09

 

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