Non-isothermal liquid evaporation in micro-pore structures is studied experimentally and numerically using the lattice Boltzmann method. A hybrid thermal entropic multiple-relaxation-time multiphase lattice Boltzmann model (T-EMRT-MP LBM) is implemented and validated with experiments of droplet evaporation on a heated hydrophobic substrate. Then liquid evaporation is investigated in two specific pore structures, i.e. spiral-shaped and gradient-shaped micro-pillar cavities, referred to as SMS and GMS, respectively. In SMS, the liquid receding front follows the spiral pattern; while in GMS, the receding front moves layer by layer from the pillar rows with large pitch to the rows with small one. Both simulations agree well with experiments. Moreover, evaporative cooling effects in liquid and vapour are observed and explained with simulation results. Quantitatively, in both SMS and GMS, the change of liquid mass with time coincides with experimental measurements. The evaporation rate generally decreases slightly with time mainly because of the reduction of liquid–vapour interface. Isolated liquid films in SMS increase the evaporation rate temporarily resulting in local peaks in evaporation rate. Reynolds and capillary numbers show that the liquid internal flow is laminar and that the capillary forces are dominant resulting in menisci pinned to the pillars. Similar Péclet number is found in simulations and experiments, indicating a diffusive type of heat, liquid and vapour transport. Our numerical and experimental studies indicate a method for controlling liquid evaporation paths in micro-pore structures and maintaining high evaporation rate by specific geometry designs.