Free Bird Café Chiang Mai
Free Bird Café is part of one of Chiang Mai’s most well-known not-for-profit charities, Thai Freedom House.
You can eat at Free Bird Café knowing that the money you pay for a hearty meal goes to supporting Thai Freedom House. And with the delicious food that Free Bird makes, you’ll feel good about the food, and the cause it assists.
So who does Thai Freedom house asisst? It’s a non-government, not-for-profit community language and arts learning center in Northern Thailand. It assists Burmese refugees and Indigenous people of Northern Thailand, through teaching Thai and English language and culture, and as a resource centre for the community. They also provide necessities like mosquito nets, beds, and clothing to construction camp workers in Chiang Mai.
Thai Freedom house is funded mostly by the owner’s funding, and the public’s donations. Free Bird Café is located on the site of the education centre, and the revenue from this café also subsidises the work Thai Freedom house does.
And did I mention delicious food? Free Bird Café serves organic vegetarian food along with smoothies, juices, coffeees and desserts.
Finding a place where the highly carnivorous North Nomad and the very vegan me can eat together is often quite a challenge! But we’ve found a somewhat medium ground at vegetarian cafes: all day breakfast.
Our friends Konstanze, Karl and Lindsey take us for brunch at Free Bird Café. It’s one of the first places we visited when we arrived in Chiang Mai.
North Nomad chooses one of his favourites – French toast. Sometimes even someone who loves meat doesn’t realise one of their favourite dishes is technically vegetarian. It’s a little healthier looking than North Nomad is used to with his French toast, and comes with a liberal sprinkling of raw sugar. Still, he eats it up and cleans his plate.
Konstanze chooses the papaya salad, and explains to me that in Chiang Mai, most papaya salad is made with dried shrimp and/or shrimp paste. She’s a vegetarian, and teaches me how to order papaya salad in Thai, so that it’s okay for vegetarians and vegans: mai sai goong (without shrimp), mai sai kung kaeng ka pi (without shrimp paste). She adores papaya and is a huge fan of the salad here, commenting on how delicious it is.
Karl chooses the Khao Soi. In fitting with the background of the restaurant, it’s a Burmese inspired vish. It’s definitely the prettiest dish of the day. The vibrant colours of this veggie, noodle curry seem to explode from the bowl. If the noodles weren’t egg based, I would definitely like to try this. The bright colours want to lure me in!
Lindsey orders the gluten free pancakes. This is a bit of a novelty item for her with her severe allergies. When it comes out, it looks more like an omelette to me. It’s tasty, but lacks the characteristic flour fluffiness of pancakes.
I order the sticky rice and a Muay Thai smoothie. I accidentally pronounce the smoothie as if it’s a cocktail (mai tai) and Karl helps me with the pronunciation. My sticky rice cakes are interesting! I’d expected them to be fried, but the stickness keeps the shape of the red rice cakes together.
I go to eat the rice cakes on their own, when Konstanze mentions she’s seen other people dip a bit of ricecake on their spoon into the liquid provided. It’s a nice broth made with aromatics like coriander, and onion and chilli. It gives the ricecakes a tasty kick.
We all left Free Bird Café with full bellies, feeling happy. I hear that Free Bird Café also does delicious desserts. I’m going to have to go for another visit. Keep your fingers crossed for me that there is a vegan dessert or two that I can indulge in!
Website: Freedom House Charity http://thaifreedomhouse.org/ Free Bird Café does not have a website, it has a Facebook page – this is very common in Chiang Mai for businesses to have a Facebook page in place of a website: https://www.facebook.com/FreeBirdCafe
Location & Contact Details: Thai Freedom House/Free Bird Café 116 Maneenoparat Road, Chiang Mai 50300 Thailand (It’s very easy to find, on the moat.) email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 081 028 5383
Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 9am-5pm