The Best Thai Restaurants in Boston
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Pad Thai lovers, take heed; tom yum fans, your attention please. Whether you’re hankering for stir-fried rice noodles, hot and sour soup, vibrant curries, or another expression of Thai cuisine—here are a handful of Boston-area favorites that are best designed to satisfy.
Brown Sugar Cafe
It’s an institution for a reason. This stalwart has stood at its current, Boston University-side location since 1999 (and spawned a similarly-great sibling near Kendall Square, the Similans, in 2005). From cash-strapped students to neighborhood long-timers, the seats stay filled with fans of tod mun (spicy minced, fried shrimp with cucumber sauce and crushed peanuts); look chin ping (charcoal-grilled pork or beef meatballs with a sweet chili sauce); and other specialties.
1033 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, 617-787-4242, brownsugarcafe.com.
Cha Yen Thai Cookery
It might be easier to get to chef Manita Bunnagitkam’s newer restaurant, Kala Thai Cookery, which opened near Faneuil Hall last summer. But it’s worth making a trip to Watertown for her first venture, Cha Yen Thai Cookery, a casual and contemporary-feeling operation that well-earns attention for khao soi-style noodles with braised brisket; skewers of grilled pork sausage with sliced ginger; and Bunnagitkam’s beloved homemade ice cream, which comes in rotating flavors like spicy chocolate and Thai iced coffee.
613 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, 617-393-0031, chayenthaicookery.com.
Crying Thaiger Rustic Thai Kitchen
Tears of joy will flow when you snag a table at this nearly-two-year-old Malden Center restaurant, a short walk from an Orange Line MBTA stop. It cribs its name from the dish suea-rong-hai (Thai for “crying tiger”), beef brisket served with pungent jaew sauce of dried chilis and toasted rice. Naturally, that signature sauce is served alongside a few different plates (“crying” pork, chicken, and salmon are all on the agenda), but don’t snooze on snacks like pork skewers marinated in coriander, cilantro, and soy sauce; or honey-glazed spare ribs with pickled garlic.
114 Ferry St., Malden 781-480-1243, cryingthaigerma.com.
Our newly-dubbed “Best of Boston” winner for Best Thai Restaurant doesn’t cast too wide a net: Street food-style noodles are the emphasis here. But the narrowed focus yields great depth of flavor in standouts like the brothless ba mee doo dang, egg noodles with pork belly and smoky barbecue sauce; and khao soi, a vibrant Northern Thai noodle bowl of coconut-creaminess, crunchy noodles, spicy funk, and fresh aromatics.
195 Elm St., Somerville, 617-718-1759, dakzen.com.
Laughing Monk Cafe
The problem: You’re craving Thai specialties, but your dinner date is hankering for sushi. Solution: Laughing Monk Cafe, a Mission Hill temple serving raw fish rolls alongside delightful Thai dishes like crispy tamarind duck, torched squid in a spicy lime sauce, and a slew of red, yellow, and green curries. It doesn’t hurt that dishes are often decorated beautifully with micro-greens and flowers grown in chef Nick Korboon’s own greenhouse.
737 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-232-8000, laughingmonkcafe.com.
Montien Thai Restaurant
Last year’s “Best of Boston” winner is still a standout, more than 30 years after doors first opened. The half of the menu that is specifically dubbed “authentic” is, perhaps unsurprisingly, where most of the prizes are to be found. So head there for deep-fried whole fish; coconut milk-free jungle curry, a “country-style” offering of eggplant, bamboo, and green beans; and duck noodle soup in a dark soy-sauce broth.
63 Stuart St., Boston, 617-338-5600, montienthaiboston.com.
Pad Thai Cafe
The flavors simply sing at this casual favorite near Berklee College of Music. Naturally, you’ll want to hit up the various iterations of the namesake, stir-fried noodle dish, but don’t hold back from sampling the rest of the broad-ranging menu, which covers everything from rice plates with spicy bamboo or curried pineapple, to specials like zesty orange beef with steamed veggies.
6 Hemenway St., Boston, 617-267-2828, padthai.cafe.
Rod Thai Family Taste
This recently-renamed restaurant, tucked among a slew of other cuisine-spanning joints in a Fenway-area strip dubbed “Restaurant Row” by locals, is still going strong under its new moniker. Formerly Rod-Dee 2 Thai Cuisine, it serves up a street-food sensibility with plenty of pad Thai, prik prow fried rice, and “drunken noodles” in basil sauce.
94 Peterborough St., Boston, 617-859-0969, rodthaifenway.com.
S & I To Go
There are only a few tables in this pint-sized Allston winner (hence the “To Go”). But even if it’s just to snag some takeout, swing by for spicy standouts like squid sauteed with hot peppers, sai oua pork sausages, or phat phong karii (shrimps or crabmeat stir-fried with curry powder) that taste just as good no matter where you eat them.
168 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-254-8488, sanditogoallston.com.
Sugar & Spice
Shout-out to this lovely Porter Square spot, the only restaurant in Somerville (and one of only six in Massachusetts) to receive “Thai Select” certification from Thailand’s International Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, which recognizes standout exports of the country’s cuisine. We can see why, when you consider dishes like the stunning khao yum salad. Its centerpiece is rice that is dyed bright blue using butterfly pea flower (but turns purple when mixed with citrus); accouterments include lemongrass, lime leaf, coconut flakes, and mango.
1933 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-868-4200, sugarspices.com.
Pretend you’re in class, and pay attention to the blackboard: Though the menu is sprawling, that’s where you’ll find the most tantalizing northern-Thai standouts, including clay pots of tilapia with cabbage, lemongrass, and lime leaves; jack fruit salad with pork rind, boiled egg, and steamed veggies; and pork curry with pickled bamboo shoots.
433 Faneuil St., Brighton, 617-254-2025, thainorthcuisine.com.