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Best Thai in Austin

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Suggestions? Not Madam Mams. Thanks!

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  1. Thai Tara near Congress & the Roaring Fork is good and stays open pretty late.
    Also really like Thamnak Thai in Cedar Park- they routinely do buy 2 get 1 free coupons.

    2 Replies
    1. re: amykragan

      Thai Tara is about 6 blocks west of Congress. The restaurant across from Roaring Fork is Thai Passion.

      1. re: sqwertz

        Thanks sqwert, I meant Thai Passion!

    2. The best I've had so far is Titaya. They're not afraid to give you the good stuff. And they don't hold back on the heat!

      1. If you like spicy Thai, Thai Kitchen is very good. For more tame "americanized" Thai, Thai Village in Lincoln Village is very good.

        There is also Little Thailand if that is an option for you. That place rocks.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Homero

          Little Thailand is awesome.

          (Madam Mam's is also pretty darn good -- any reason in particular you're blocking it?)

          1. re: tom in austin

            My opinion - any Thai place that has "Dancing" or "Prancing" anything sort of makes me wonder if flavor has been compromised for accessibility. That only leaves Madam Mam's and Little Thailand. I and everyone love pad thai and Tom Yum, but how about some fermented mustard greens? Pickled radish? Who else has Khao Soi? They have dishes that no one else has.

            I've been to Thai Tara several times. It seems a bit watered down in flavor overall. It's accessible though. Right there of W 6th.

            Thai Passion has been very good at times. Haven't been in a while, but I have fond memories of a beef green curry w/lots of thai basil. I seem to remember a heavy emphasis on curry dishes, which I usually don't do in favor of more unique items.

            Thai Kitchen - some great, some good, some okay dishes. I need to go to the Manchaca location, evidently.

            Titaya's - Take out several times, ate in a few. Above average.

            Satay - you'd think that a Thai phD in food science whould be able to produce more consistent and more flavorful dishes. I have NOT tried their special spring menu owing to the expense. There might be some real good dishes that I'm not aware of.

            Several other places I've only been to once and can't comment (Thamknak Thai, where I was forced to share curry, and a really nice little place on Wells Branch) . I'm interested in Thai Pepper in Del Valle - anybody been there?

            1. re: rudeboy

              The Wells Branch place is Chon Som and I've been wanting to go back there as I've only been once.

              Another worthy Thai contender is Exotic Thai on Braker just W. of Lamar. The portions are slightly small but we've had some good dishes there. The menu is not exotic but the taste is good.

              I'm fascinated there's a Thai Place in Del Valle considering how close Little Thailand in Garfield is. We ate at Little Thailand Thursday night for only my 3rd time ever in 6 years and I was not blown away. I had the papaya salad with beef and it was tasty enough. I also sampled some larb, red curry and some sort other dish. All were good but none amazed me like they had in the past.

              1. re: Carter B.

                Carter - I know what you mean. I was wondering if Little Thailand was holding back on the flavor. Does one have to specify "Thai spicy" there?

              2. re: rudeboy

                Are Madam Mam's and Little Thailand the only places with Khao Soi? We recently returned from Thailand and this was one of our favorite dishes.

                1. re: ebloom

                  I'm not even sure if Little Thailand has it. Coincidentally, I odered to go Kao Soi and some other stuff in the hospital last week (from Madam Mam's) - last night, I used the leftover Kao Soi Juice (with a few noodles) and added it to jasmine rice instead of water. We just had our second helping tonight and it was great!

                  Not to get off topic, but, in in a general response about Austin thai, were you in northern Thailand?

                  What else did you try? The Pud Cha at MM is excellent, but some people don't like it because of the bacalhau effect - dried and salted fish.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    The only northern Thai city we visited was Chiang Mai. My wife and I are both vegetarians so we weren't all that adventurous. Fish sauce and shrimp paste were inevitable so we gave up on trying to avoid them. I tried the green curry at most every restaurant we visited. My wife ate a variety of stir frys and spring rolls.

                    Some of the more memorable dishes:
                    -pomelo salad with fried coconut bits and chilies. The contrast of the fruit pulp and spice was amazing
                    -basil congee for breakfast. I had never tried this and the fragrant broth was a great thing to wake up to.
                    -favorite snack was definitely the sweet roti from street vendors. They would fry a fresh roti-like tortilla and cover it with condensed milk and a variety of toppings such as Nutella.
                    -fried quail eggs with soy sauce
                    -Khmer-style curry served in a coconut. By the time we reached Cambodia, I had eaten so many green curries that this was a nice break.

                    Overall, Titaya's curry dishes are quite similar to what I remember eating while in Thailand.

                    1. re: ebloom

                      You know, I'm going to have to give TItaya's another try, as people keep raving about them (sometimes "newbies," so I was wary). The dishes that we have tried are "decent for the location and the price - it's good food, but it's not the best thai." - I just asked my wife what she thought about it and I'm posting her response. My take on Titaya's was that, overall, the dishes seemed to lack some sort of depth, and one dish was downright watery. Most of my experieces was from when they first opened.

                      God, that pomelo salad sounds really good. i haven't seen anything like that in Austin.

                      I have a question for you, though. In Austin, who has the best green curry? Do the different ones vary as much as in Thailand? I hardly ever eat curry in thai places because I assume that they are all using Mae Ploy paste (or Maesri), which I have at home. It's incredibly good, inexpensive, and easy. I'm not sure how many restaurants do their own - it would be good to know. I would assume that in Thailand, most are making their own, and there would be more subtle variation.

                      I do love eggplant in green curry, sometimes with tender beef.

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        Prior to our trip, I had only tried a couple green curries. I have eaten just about every curry Titaya's makes and the only one that disappoints me is the Jungle Curry. I love spicy Thai food, but this one was just spicy without the complexity of flavor that I like. Since returning, I am going to go on a hunt for the green curry I like best in town. It would be nice to get some variety like we experienced in Thailand with each restaurant grinding their own curries.

                        By the way, I put up a small gallery of the food related pics we took on our vacation.
                        http://gallery.mac.com/the_blooms#100129

                        1. re: ebloom

                          Great pics ebloom! Those bowls of what i assume were curry pastes made me drool.

                          1. re: rollingplate

                            There were definitely times when I wish we could have read Thai or had someone with us to translate. The picture didn't capture the variation in color as well as I had hoped, but it does make me hungry to look at them. Even though there were pastes like this available, it appeared even the street vendors made their own curries from scratch.

                            1. re: ebloom

                              ebloom - those are wonderful pictures. I especially like the Dancing Shrimp pizza.....that looks like a trip I'd love to take.

                              Coincidentally, the water dish with lack of depth that I had at Titaya's was the Jungle Curry. I think that one dish affected my overall opinion of the place.

                              I'll try and help with the green curry hunt. I'll try that dish at either Titaya's or Mam's soon.

                              Coincidentally, after your post from yesterday, I went to MT supermarket and got a Pomelo, thai basil, and a special red mint. I made the Pomelo, coconut, and chile salad you mentioned with lettuce from the yard (your description was all I had to go on), and then I used my leftover easter lamb leg (which had a thai lime etc rub) and made the green curry with Mae Ploy. Also from MT supermarket. Cheers to you for a good evening on my part!

            2. re: Homero

              On Thai Kitchen, I have found the one on William Cannon consistently superior to the one on Guadalupe & 30th

            3. I vote for Thai Tara, the one on W. 6th.

              1. Second for Tatiya. Fantastic Green Curry, which I use as a barometer of Thai cuisine.

                1. i love thai spoon in round rock

                  1. I still haven't tried any Thai since I've lived here. Drove out to Little Thailand one day and they were closed. But I'm a creature of habit and stay with Mexican most of the time. Does anyone have an opinion on Mama Fu's?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: crippstom

                      I like Thai Tara, but service can be spotty. Little Thailand is a kick. Good food and an unforgettable atmosphere. Madam Mam is good but to me not outstanding. Mama Fu's is fun and does have some dishes that are labled "Thai" but to me it isn't a Thai restaurant by any stretch. That's like calling PF Changs "Authentic" chinese.....

                      1. re: Chicago Wine Geek

                        Mama Fu's is definitely a place I will never step foot into again. We ordered a split chicken lemongrass soup of theirs and an entree. The soup was cold and even worse it tasted like someone poured an entire salt shaker into it. It was inedible and atrocious. We flagged down management and informed them and they went away to test the soup and confirm and he came back and apologized profusely and comped our entire meal. We then had the same soup but were told that this soup was fresh and although it wasn't loaded with salt like the previous it was still pretty nasty. Interestingly enough, even though the receipt showed that he 'comped' our meal, it still went through to our bank and we never did get our money back. To each their own I supposed but I will gladly steer anyone away from the horrors at Mama Fu's and towards the likes of Little Thailand (yummmm!!!!) Madame Mam's and even Thai Passion.

                        1. re: SpaceAgeNinjaCowboy

                          May I second that by encouraging all of you to never spend any of your hard-earned dollars at Mama Fu's? Charmless, feels like a chain the moment you step in, and the food was, at best, one step up from the "Wok in a Hurry" places you see at airports.
                          The staff was actually very pleasant, and our appetizers (chicken wrapped in lettuce leaf, stir-fired green beans) were passable, but our entrees were unforgivably lousy -- both appeared to be steamed vegetables slathered in whatever sauce we ordered. And parts of the crispy Vietnamese noodles were burnt.
                          This is too bad. Given that the place is fairly near our house, and having had no prior experience with Mama Fu's, and having had some good experiences with small chains (I'm thinking Ollie's Noodle Houses in NYC, *not* Suzi's Chinese Kvetchin' here in Austin), I went with an open, even optimistic, mind.
                          Never, ever, again.

                    2. thai spoon is rr has great food and service.

                      1. Has anybody tried Exotic Thai, in the new Asian mall across the street from Chinatown Center? Physically, it looks charmless, and the two times I've driven by it was near-empty, so we haven't taken the plunge. But if someone raved about the food, I'd give it a try.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AustinNYCer

                          There's a thread on this board about Exotic Thai. It's worth trying for sure.

                        2. Thai Kitchen on Guadalupe has never disappointed. Best pad thai in town, in my opinion. Larb gai and curries are also top notch.

                          1. Thai Kitchen definitely hits the spot when it comes to Thai food. I also like that one Thai place off of 360 -- I forget the name but it's in a shopping center with a Ben and Jerry's and Randall's (I think).

                            1. Definitely, Chon Som on Wells Branch!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: kina57

                                Are any of these good thai places near the airport? We are staying one night before flying on to cancun. Or anything good near airport?

                                1. re: SAnativegirl

                                  Little Thailand is a few miles east of the airport on Hwy 71 in a little town called Garfield. So little you won't even see it. Look for a water tower on the left as you are driving.

                                  Thai Pepper in Del Valle should even be closer, but no one seems to have been there. Zoom out from this map to see it's location, plus the location of Garfield.

                                  http://www.yellowpages.com/info-LMS57...

                                  Madam Mam's is also relatively close, as is Sawadee's.

                                  http://maps.google.com/maps?f=l&h...

                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                    Thanks rudeboy!

                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                      I've been to Thai Pepper. What a hoot. The place is almost impossible to find and there aren't a lot of folks to ask directions in Del Valle. It was reviewed a while back in the Statesman's X-lent section and you might be able to find it in their archives at Statesman.com.

                                      It's dark and very funky. The owner is an old military guy that married a Thai wife. She does the cooking. Our waitress(anglo) kept referring to him as the old jerk. The food is mediocre. The atmosphere unbeleivable. The experience is priceless (to paraphrase VISA or Mastercard or one of those).

                                      Glad we went. Had a great time. Once is enough

                                2. I'm curious. Why not Madam Mam's?

                                  If it's not Madam Mam's, I'll throw my vote in with the folks who said Thai Village and Thai Kitchen. I've had lunch at Thai Village in Lincoln Village and the Thai Kitchen on William Cannon. I liked the Pad Prik King, Larb Gai, and Tom Kha at both.

                                  Thanks for starting this thread! Now I'm going to have to try Thai Spoon and Chon Som.

                                  1. Thanks to people here for reminding us about Thamnak Thai; for some reason it had dropped off our minds lately. But, we had dinner there tonight, and it was delightful as usual. My wife really likes the pineapple fried rice, and we both like the various curries at this place. The service is also attentive and friendly without being overbearing. A very nice restaurant all in all.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: rajat

                                      Rajat:

                                      I saw the pineapple fried rice sounds like a interesting combination I think I'll try that next time.

                                    2. Went to the other Thai Passion tonight at (183@ Burnet) ;as opposed to the downton location and would never have thought they were related .

                                      Overall, have to give them an C-/

                                      Granted, we had a group of 20 (reservation made over a month ago) and they also had a birthday party going on.

                                      But basically we are talking about a Thursday (i.e. SLOW night for them)

                                      The food did not compare to Madam Mam's.

                                      I was able to sample almost everything since we had a large group and I would say Madam Mam's wins on everything EXCEPT the one dish I ordered (lucky me; being the only hound in the crew) the catfish dish.

                                      At Madam Mam's on my one experience at lunch time I had less than half of a fish filet with mostly root vegetables in a spicy sauce.
                                      At this Thai Passion, I had ample cripsy (ie lightly fried) fish with a tangy/spicy gravy wiht veggies & sauce on the side.

                                      Eveything else was very comprable to Madam Mam's plus $2.

                                      So the Thai debate wages on!

                                      1. I figured I should chip in since I've eaten at a bunch of Thai restaurants recently.

                                        I like Titya's. It's been excellent since they've first opened, but they're menu is more more extensive than it used to be. Place feels nicer than it used to as well. Good is still pretty good. It's a tad more than I would like to pay for dinner, but it does have a relatively central location. Lunch is cheap and service has always been really good. They actually make things relatively spicy here.

                                        I recently tried Exotic Thai--it's awesome. I'm surprised there aren't more reviews yet. Pad Kee Mao was not as saucy as other places, but still had tons of flavor. Vegetables were cooked perfectly--most places overcook them for my tastes. And the shrimp tasted very fresh. While the food was excellent, the ambiance is almost non-existent. I suppose that's why most customers seemed to do take out. Service was okay. I'll definitely be back here for the food though. They have some interesting dishes I had not heard of before.

                                        I really like Little Thailand. It reminds me of one my classmates mom's cooking. It's nothing fancy, but it's pretty delicious.I don't make it here as often as I would like.

                                        I don't like Thai Passion (Downtown location). The food is bland and uninspiring.
                                        I don't like Madam Mam's except for a couple of dishes which aren't really Thai anyway.

                                        Does anywhere in Austin (or in Texas) serve dishes with fresh young/green peppercorn? Is it banned for import even though crops that used to be are now routinely available thanks to irradiation?

                                        1. Following recommendations from this discussion, I had dinner last night at Titaya and lunch today at Exotic Thai. I know one meal is scarce experience for recommendations, but I found both to be excellent, albeit different, and will definitely frequent both.

                                          First of all, i did not have the same or even similar dishes at both, so I don't mean this as a serious comparison. But, it seems like Titaya's spicing was bolder, hotter, than at Exotic Thai. My friend and I had Pineapple Fried Rice at Titaya, and a mixed seafood dish called Hor Mok Talay (steamed seafood). We did not specify Thai hot, or extra spicy as we sometimes do; this time we had it as they usually serve it. It was spicy enough that we needed several refillings of the water glass, but not because any pain was involved. Dessert was mango on rice which was very good; I have had better, but only because very rarely can you get decent tasting mangoes in the US (if you've tasted Indian Alphonse mangoes, you know what I mean). BTW, Titaya must have recently received its liquor license since the waiter took pains to point out that they now had wines and beer, but we also saw people bringing in their own bottles of wine.

                                          At Exotic Thai, my wife and I had fish cakes for appetizers--they were good, but not particularly noteworthy, but the cucumber relish had some heat and was good--followed by a duck curry and tilapia in a sauce who's description slips my memory. Both were delicious and we finished the curry sauces with our rice. The dishes were spicy with some heat, but certainly not "Thai Hot".

                                          As I said earlier, I will go back to both soon.

                                          1. Sorry to revive an old thread.

                                            There's a fairly new Thai place in the shopping center on I-35 near Parmer-( the same shopping center that houses Byblos) that no one has mentioned yet.

                                            It's called Pad Thai and is located directly adjacent to Byblos.
                                            Food is excellent and rivals Titaya's, but it's different. The Som Tom has repeatedly stood out as one of the freshest tasting versions I've ever tasted. Haven't tried curry here, but other stir fried dishes, soups, and seafood dishes were also excellent. A fair amount of heat if you ask for it.

                                            Ambiance isn't that great--the place has a cavernous feeling, but otherwise its nice. It's fancy compared to its neighbor Byblos. Last time I went, they didn't have a liquor license and were BYOB which is always a plus. Prices are comparable to Titaya's.