When a hankering for Thai food like chile-laced curry or kick-you-square-in-the-mouth spicy papaya salad arises, we know exactly what to do. We’ve rounded up a list of our favorite Thai restaurants, from low-key neighborhood staples to flavor-defying newcomers, that satisfy those cravings.
Tables fill and refill at Bambu Thai-Asian Cuisine in Richardson, where the menu is broad, encompassing the usual curries, tart-sour soups, and noodles, but specialties come from the northeastern, rice-growing Isaan region of Thailand. These Lao-influenced dishes speak with simple, direct power; look to chalkboard specials or ask a server to steer you. Above all, start with rounds of grilled Isaan-style sausage, studded with sticky rice, aromatic with kaffir lime and lemongrass, and funky from several days curing.
Just behind Oak, you’ll find Tiffanee and Richard Ellman’s funky restaurant full of interesting takes on traditional Thai dishes. If the weather is nice, take a seat on the patio and order an array of appetizers. It’s easy to spend an afternoon discovering the wonders of fried cashews mixed with green onions and bird’s-eye chiles; deep-fried hard-boiled “son in law” eggs; or the beef jerky and local beer flight. Or dive into a serving of Drunken Noodles or crispy tamarind duck.
This is a charming dining room with gracious service and bargain lunch specials. The corn patties and coconut chicken soup are superb starters, and any protein dredged in fresh ginger sauce nears perfection. The Thai standards, like stir fry and various types of fried rice, are always consistent.
It may be located in an Oak Lawn strip mall, but Asian Mint’s lime green and cream decor is unquestionably stylish. Pad kee mow is done right, with lots of garlic, basil, and chiles. Fried sea bass is prepared with finesse, with a perky basil sauce that seeps into the accompanying jasmine rice. Don’t forget to try the signature green tea ice cream cake. And there are plenty of vegetarian options, as well.
Ka-Tip Thai Street Food
Walking into this unassuming space next to the Dallas Farmers Market, you might think Ka-Tip’s diminutive dining room (oh, just a few tables and room for maybe 20) means small flavor. Nope. Wrong. Big mistake—huge. On their menu full of authentic Thai favorites, George Kaiho and his wife Yuyee Sakpanichkul Kaiho lovingly bombard you with flavor-packed Thai street food. The two Tei-An vets serve pork belly so simultaneously crisp and tender that it’ll become your porcine standard bearer. The larb gai (ground chicken salad) isn’t shy on spice and we’re here for it, chile-induced sweats and all. And then khao neow, sticky rice that arrives in its own woven rice basket, is the manifestation of doing something so simple, so simply right.
Braden and Yasmin Wages opened Southeast Asian cuisine restaurant, Malai Kitchen, in Uptown in 2011 (now with three Dallas area locations). The plates at this West Village nexus of great cocktails are moderately priced and artfully presented Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Not-to-be-missed dishes: fresh summer rolls, ahi tuna tartare, Vietnamese beef noodle soup, and classic pad Thai. The green curry chicken is outstanding. And the house-pressed sugar cane juice? A must-drink.
Chef-owner Kyla Phomsavanh’s stuffed chicken wings take a whole day to make, but they’re well worth his efforts. We still haven’t met a single person who hasn’t fallen in love with this appetizer of juicy chicken filled with pieces of rice and veggies. Indeed, there’s really nothing from this Old East Dallas restaurant we wouldn’t recommend. Bonus: It’s BYOB.
A consistently beloved favorite for Greenville Avenue-goers, Royal Thai remains dedicated to preparing straightforward Thai cuisine spiced with plenty of fresh herbs and peppers. If you order a dish “Thai style”—and you should—you had better be ready for it. We give it three fire emojis.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article mentioned consulting chef Jet Tila as associated with Pak Pao, though he is no longer with the restaurant company. The above version has been altered to reflect that fact.