Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Best Thai Food in Austin, 2018


It's time again for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance's City Guide (currently links to the 2017 guide; 2018 guide coming soon)! I'm so excited for you all to see the full Guide this year. Our members and especially our Technology Chair, Peter Tsai, have been working hard to put it together, and it's chock full of useful information to please your palate.

I'm writing three guides this year, and the first one I have for you is Thai food. I wrote about my favorite Thai spots on this blog in 2013, and a few more great spots have cropped up since then to help satiate your appe-Thai-te. Here are some of the most notable ones:

Muangthai, 13945 Highway 183 North, Suite C-80, Austin TX 78717.
Few people I've told about this strip mall Thai joint up north near Lakeline Mall have heard of it. Yet, it's one of my favorite Thai places in town, and worth the trip. My very favorite dish here is the Chu Chee (SP4), a fried catfish fillet topped with the most amazing red curry sauce. We usually order the sauce on the side so the fillet stays crispy longer. Also, word to the wise: they are not afraid of heat, here, so we usually request our dishes mild so that the less-heat-loving folks in our group can still eat the food. But if you like it hot, they'll be happy to oblige.

I'll be brutally honest - the service here is frequently overwhelmed and, therefore, often not particularly attentive. The space is nothing fancy. But I've liked all the food I've eaten here, and particularly that fantastic catfish dish.

Please excuse this photo, which I took in 2012. We usually get takeout from here when we go! This is the marvelous Chu Chee (fried catfish fillet served with coconut red curry sauce and lime leaves)

Sip Saam Thai, 6309 West Parmer Lane #505, Austin TX 78729.
I haven't yet made it to Sip Saam Thai, but have heard a number of raves about it from trusted foodies, including one of my favorite foodie 'grammers, @myw13, and my friend and neighbor with whom I'm frequently lucky enough to share food, Jackie of Studio Stence (who took the photo below).  Jackie tells me they are like Muangthai in that they are more than willing to bring the heat if you so desire. I can't wait to check them out!

Sip Saam Thai - photo by Jackie Stence

Madam Mam's / Sap's (multiple locations for both)
I'm sure the owners of these two establishments prefer not to be linked to one another anymore (the competing restaurants are the product of the couple's split - her locations are Madam Mam's; his are Sap's). But it's hard not to link them when they still share a common menu. I'm hard pressed to order anything here other than the Pad Kee Mao (F5)(note that you have to ask for flat rice noodles or you'll get a version made with spaghetti noodles) or what is basically the rice version of the same dish, Pad Ped Ga-Prao (P8). For an appetizer, I love the Thai rice cakes (Kao Tung / A3).

Pad Kee Mao - wide rice noodles stir-fried with your choice of protein (I always get pork), mushrooms, Thai basil, and Thai peppers

Thai Kun, Two locations: 
Brick & mortar at Rock Rose at the Domain, 11601 Rock Rose Ave., Suite 110, Austin TX 78758.
Trailer at Whisler's, 1816 E. 6th Street, Austin TX 78702.
The hottest thing I ever remember attempting to eat was the larb at Thai Kun in the Domain (pictured in the cover photo for this blog post). I seriously wondered if I might need an esophageal transplant afterwards. Luckily, their offerings include more sedate dishes, too, like the crab Thai fried rice or the chive cakes.

Thai Kun
Crab Fried Rice at Thai Kun

Sway, 1417 South 1st Street, Austin TX 78704.
Ah, Sway. Your food is so good that I can almost forgive your terrible tables. I love most every dish I've had at Sway, but my favorites are the son-in-law, the jungle curry, the tiger cry, the kai yaang, and the salt & pepper tofu. For dessert, the Thai tea affogato or the jasmine tea panna cotta. Sway is really a fusion restaurant and purists may lament its inclusion here, but it's so wonderful that I think it deserves a spot in this guide nonetheless.

The Son-In-Law - braised pork shoulder, crispy farm egg, thick soy, chili vinegar

Dee Dee, 2500 E. 6th Street at Pedernales, Austin TX 78702.
Feeling a little grouchy? Dee Dee's website is sure to cheer you up. And their food will cure your worst bout of hangry. They operate out of a trailer, so either dress for the weather or get something to go, but definitely try them out - it's good stuff.

Dee Dee

This sweet restaurant and coffee bar on West Mary is a favorite of mine for many reasons. I love that they source locally and use humanely-raised meats. I love that the owner, Jam Sanitchat, teaches cooking classes at their store (which I highly recommend), passing on her passion for cooking and her secrets about her favorite Thai ingredients. And most of all, I love the food. Fresh Thai flavor abounds in every dish. And you can cool things down afterwards with a scoop of their housemade vegan ice cream. The ice cream flavors are marvelous (everything from mint chip to ginger lemongrass), and you won't for a second miss the dairy.

Spicy Basil Fried Rice

Krua, 2024 South Lamar Blvd, Austin TX 78704.
I've experienced some long waits for food and some other service issues here, but on balance, Krua is pretty good as Austin Thai food goes, especially in the south part of town where good Thai spots seem to be a little harder to come by. These mussels swimming in red curry are fantastic; order some rice to go with it, as you won't want to waste a drop of that sauce.

Krua Thai

Titaya's, 5501 North Lamar Blvd, Suite C101, Austin TX 78751.
Titaya's has been around for a really long time, and boasts a solid 4 stars on Yelp with over 1350 reviews. I haven't had a ton of luck there myself, of late, but I'd love to be proven wrong, as it's one of the closest Thai restaurants to my house. If you have a favorite standout dish here that you think I'll like, please let me know!

What are your favorite Thai places in town? I'm Thai-ing to know - please share in the comments!


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