Boat has been a Chiang Mai institution for over 25 years. The food is barely edible, the service is so bad it’s hilarious and occasionally the whole place smells like sewage. It’s supposed to evoke the spirit of a 1950s American diner, complete with period music and comfy booths, except there are wooden swordfish and stock photos of fruit on the walls and everybody is eating Thai food. The Western cuisine appears to have evolved independently over the past quarter-century and now just barely resembles its progenitors. Your order goes through a telephone game chain of eight different waiters and you never get exactly what you want.

Regardless, everybody should go to Boat at least once, because there’s something magical about this out-of-place relic. There are few better places to spend a late Sunday morning observing the cross section of Chiang Mai’s inhabitants, and while your moo krob might smell like ammonia you won’t regret the experience. By the way, the best things on the menu are the burgers. They’re weird and Thai-ified, but at 50 thb each they’re hard to turn down.


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