With the temperatures dropping, Thai food -- with all its fresh flavors and heat -- is sounding very appetizing. Thai Monkey Club, which Gretchen Kurtz just reviewed, is just one of the exciting new spots that's joined a line of favorite standbys. Spice junkies often quabble over the spots with the best pad thai, curry or tom kai gha in the metro area. Here, to settle some of those arguments and inspire new ones are our Cafe Society picks for the twelve best Thai restaurants in the Denver area.
See also: Thai Monkey Club: this place is hot!
12) Thai Flavor 1014 South Peoria Street At Thai Flavor, the curries are what shine, made by Surin Thanon, a native of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, and served in a no-frills Aurora dining room. The star of the show is the panang curry--creamy with coconut milk and laced with the heat of chili peppers, tempered with fresh lime, garlic, and herbs, and dotted with tender cuts of meat.
11) Thai Diamond Cafe 1560 Kipling Street Among a vast menu of hot curries and a host of other traditional Thai plates, it's hard to go wrong. Complex, savory favorites like Pad Thai are coveted by the loyal flocks that return to Thai Diamond Cafe, along with comforting bowls of Tom Kha Gai, a hot and sour soup scented with lemongrass, swimming with chicken, mushrooms, and lime leaves in a delicate coconut broth.
10) Thai Pot 1550 South Colorado Boulevard This pint-sized Thai spot on Colorado Boulevard is about to move into some new digs: In January 2014, Thai Pot will move a stone's throw away from its current location, where patrons can still find aromatic Thai basil chicken, shrimp red curry, and drunken noodles, in a range of heat levels.
9) Snow Thai 406 East Colfax Avenue This Colfax newcomer has quickly been decorated with praise from the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and although the owner is from Burma, Snow Thai turns out healthy portions of Thai standards, like flavorful Pad Thai and spiced curries. To top it off? every entree comes with a freshly-made eggroll, on the house.
8) Liang's Thai Food 16th and Tremont Street This friendly downtown cart serves up simple, authentic Thai food to a snaking lunch line, and everything is made from scratch on Liang's one burner. The expansive menu runs the gamut from Panang and massaman curries to pad Thai, spicy sour soup and pad see ewe.
7) J's Noodles Star Thai 945 South Federal Boulevard J's Noodles Star Thai crafts its dishes in a simple (and tiny) space that seats no more than a handful of customers. Still, they come in for traditional plates of larb, ground meat mixed in a spicy lemon dressing with onions, cilantro, roasted rice powder and mint, and a legendary pad Thai.
6) US Thai Cafe 5228 West 25th Avenue US Thai is actually owned by a Laotian, and the cuisine tends to favor northern Thai. The balanced offerings dreamed up in the open kitchen include habit-forming curries and noodles, which if you're not careful, can scorch your taste buds for your next few meals. Play it safe and order the medium heat -- it will still make you sweat.
5) Udom Thai 7547 South University Blvd. For staples like papaya salad, thom yum, and thom kha (plus chef specialties like pork belly with broccoli and addictive mango sticky race), Udom Thai is one of greater Denver's most coveted Thai spots, especially for Littleton residents. But for those willing to venture just a little bit further, it's worth the drive.
4) Wild Ginger 399 West Littleton Boulevard Wild Ginger is one of a handful of global cuisine options in Littleton and a comfortable place to train your palate in the tastes of Thai flavor: an Americanized heat scale that ranges from mild to hot-hot is available across the board in all dishes, like traditional noodles and curry. Kudos to a more expansive selection of desserts.
3) Star Thai 8048 West Jewell Avenue, Lakewood Yet another nondescript strip mall gem, customers swear by the bright, complex green curry and plates of pad Thai, all customizable on the heat scale. And although the space might feel questionable, the Thai dishes, along with a small section of Chinese specialties influenced by one of the native Chinese owners, make the place truly shine.
2) Thai Monkey Club 102 South Broadway 4122 East Colfax Avenue To many, Thai food is associated with a sweat-inducing heat, and at Thai Monkey Club they've made something of an endurance test out of this association, offering a six-level heat index not intended for the faint of heart. Whatever your poison, it can be cooled down with a refreshing papaya salad or creamy Thai iced tea.
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1) Thai Street Food 11650 Montview Boulevard, Aurora Utumporn Killoran's works of food art made their mark on patrons when she began turning out her dishes from a cart on the 16th Street Mall. A few years and a move to a brick-and-mortar later, Killoran delights with plates influenced from her home in the Issan region of Thailand, from standby curries to the coveted noodle jelly salad, earning Thai Street Food Westword's award for Best Thai Food this year.