DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Upper Crust Café

Gina Hahn

The Upper Crust Café is located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar, tucked into a corner by the nearly vacant Chiang Inn Plaza and an empty lot that is eventually to become a restaurant of D2 Hotel, formerly the Chiang Inn Hotel. Many tourists wander in for cool drinks, then stay to enjoy the air-conditioning and tempting food.

Food at the Upper Crust Café is quick and easy, and is surprisingly varied. Breakfast is served all day, and delightfully, nobody calls anything on the menu an “American breakfast”. You can choose from bagels (three kinds) and cream cheese at 30 baht; granola, fruit and yogurt at 50 baht; even scrambled eggs or a ham and cheese omelet. The omelet is the most expensive breakfast item, served with toast at 70 baht. Add coffee to any breakfast choice and it only adds 15 baht to your breakfast tab.

Options make choosing your lunch or dinner all the more fun. You can design and build your own sandwich from a variety of fillings, then make it a combo and add potato salad (excellent), and a soft drink, coffee or tea for just 50 additional baht. Sandwich fillings are many, but my personal favorite is the Northern Heights with pastrami, cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickles, cucumber, onion, mustard and mayonnaise stacked high on rye bread for 60 baht. If you make that a combo, you have a big meal for 110 baht. Don’t think that vegetarians are left out of the sandwich department, though. The Rain Tree Delight at 40 baht offers a sandwich full of good vegetables on multi-grain bread.

The house specials, the staff reminds us, are all home made. We especially liked the delicious vegetarian lasagna at 90 baht, but quiches are also offered, as is a pesto cheeseburger and spaghetti. Make that a combo, and you have a special, a salad and a drink for 145 baht.

Finding a good salad isn’t always easy in Chiang Mai, although more and more restaurants are offering them. The Upper Crust Café has a tasty and spicy taco salad that’s full of ground beef, red beans, cheese, salsa and sour cream and topped with taco chips for good measure. They also offer a smoked chicken salad, and that wonderful potato salad is on this part of the menu. Salads start at 30 baht for a simple fruit salad and go up to 60 baht for the taco salad.

There are also a variety of soups, and they’re tempting on a day when you feel like having just a soup and salad meal. All are priced at 60 baht a bowl. The cream of mushroom soup is chock full of mushrooms, thick and delicious. Or try the pinto tortilla soup for a different taste with tang. Full of vegetables and really good.

We weren’t leaving the Tex-Mex behind, though. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, nachos, tostadas and chili were just waiting to be tasted, and each came with refried beans, Spanish rice and a drink. Priced from 70 baht to 140 baht, these are big meals to fill the hungriest traveler. While I love any kind of Tex-Mex, I must confess that I seek out refried beans every time we’re in south Texas. I was not disappointed by those at the Upper Crust Caf้é, and improvised and ordered a bean quesadillas with extra salsa, sour cream and guacamole to totally indulge myself. Both beef and chicken are offered in the Tex-Mex food selections, but you can also substitute beans. Unlike many casual cafes, there is ample opportunity at the Upper Crust Café for good salads and vegetarian choices.

The menu says that everything in the café is home baked. We looked over the desserts and believed it. From cookies at 12 baht each to apple pie at 40 baht to a mango cream pie that’s a “killer” at 65 baht, these desserts are tempting and just plain delicious.

Upper Crust Café้, 100/9 Chiang Inn Plaza, Changklan Road, T. Changklan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai, 50100. Telephone 053-820-099 and 09-700-3400. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Parking is available in the Chiang Inn Plaza parking garage. Be sure to have your parking ticket stamped at the restaurant for free parking.