When it comes to the flavors of Thailand, you might be surprised to find out that there are a number of places that hit the mark right here in the Twin Cities. You may recall, I’ve been on the hunt for great Thai food ever since trying my very first place in Minneapolis.
Luckily, thanks to reader suggestions and a few newsroom tipsters, I feel like I’m halfway on my great Thai adventure. Sure, there’s plenty more to experience, but so far I’m enjoying the journey.
What I’ve discovered so far? Some of our Midwest joints may be a little lighter on the spice but with most serving up those exotic spice blends at the table, you can be sure to get your Thai food just the way you like it.
Check out a few of my personal favorites since exploring the art of Thai in the Twin Cities — and don’t forget to add to the list if you’ve got a favorite that I just haven’t been to yet.
Sen Yai Sen Lek
2422 Central Ave. NE
At Sen Yai Sen Lek, also known as big noodle, little noodle, customers are treated as an extension to the local family that’s been cooking up authentic dishes for years. The menu is simple but don’t let that fool you. They do less because they do them well — really well. Try the Thai basil dish and don’t forget to save room for sticky rice and mangos.
Tum Rup Thai
1221 W. Lake St.
Tum Rup Thai is a bit more of a modern take on Thai. Located in a trendy Lake Street building, overlooking other Uptown establishments, Tum Rup combines the classy attitude of Lake Street with the delicious blends of spices and sauces known in Thai cooking. The noodle dishes are slightly unmemorable — not bad, but nothing to write home about. The chicken satay and jalapeno wontons, on the other hand, were divine.
2627 East Franklin Ave.
Known as a bit of an institution when it comes to authentic Thai cuisine, the folks at True Thai take great pride in their food and it shows through their many awards. From delicious wontons to savory yellow curry, True Thai cooks from its roots — or the roots of owner Anna Prasomphol Fieser, who’s become something of her own institution. The pad Thai here has become one of my all-time favorites.
Taste of Thailand
11 S. 7th St.
If you judge a book by its cover, you may miss out on a great Thai restaurant right downtown. I’ll admit, on first glance, the Taste of Thailand isn’t much to look at but the sophistication definitely lies in its deep, rich flavors. The curry here is delightful and perfect for a filling dinner before a show. The prices are pretty standard and dining experience is relaxed and casual.
Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine
8600 Edinburgh Ctr. Dr.
Brooklyn Park, MN
After writing about the search for delicious Thai food, I was eager to try this place out, thanks to a reader suggestion. I must say, what a great little surprise in Brooklyn Park. The aroma upon entering this establishment puts you right in the mood for the feast that’s approaching. The house-made lemongrass sausages were surprisingly flavorful with an extra little kick. Stop by for lunch for a great deal — and a cheap meal.
3024 Hennepin Ave. S.
Amazing Thailand is a hip, funky Thai restaurant that fits it perfectly with its Uptown neighborhood. The atmosphere is fitting for a great escape to the magical land of Thailand, where the chicken satay is always juicy and the stir fry dishes are spicy sweet. The happy hour here is also a real treat — stop in for great prices on drinks and apps. My only complaint? I was not a fan of the spring rolls — too much mint that overpowered the other flavors.
2401 Fairview Ave. N. # 7
For a seriously good deal on great, authentic Thai, head to the little strip mall restaurant in Roseville known as Royal Orchid — there’s also a tiny cafe located in the Minneapolis skyways. The family-owned and operated spot takes heart to the phrase, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Pad Thai is seriously good and the green curry has just the right amount of kick. Don’t be fooled by the modest décor, the flavors coming out of the kitchen is enough to keep you coming back for more.
Thanh Do Restaurant
8028 Minnetonka Boulevard
St. Louis Park, MN
Thanh Do goes beyond Thai, infusing the flavors from China, Vietnam and other Asian countries to create a pan-Asian cuisine unlike any other. The curries are classic with a twist and the Singapore Noodles are out of this world. Try a bowl of Chicken Tom Yum (Thai coconut soup) to get your palate off to a great start — and don’t forget the cranberry puffs.
This is only the beginning of my Thai journey — we’ll call it Part 1. If you have suggestions on other places I should try, please (politely) leave a comment and tell me your favorite Thai place.
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist for WCCO.COM.