Thai Street Food has long been considered one of the best Thai restaurants in metro Denver; a legion of fans have made pilgrimages to the odd little eatery at 11650 Montview Boulevard in Aurora since 2011. Before that, owner Utumporn “Anna” Killoran attracted attention with her kiosk on the 16th Street Mall, where she made each dish to order, creating long lines of customers waiting for a bite of her fiery cooking.
But now Thai Street Food has closed, leaving Thai aficionados hungering for the Issan-style cuisine Killoran brought with her to Denver from northern Thailand.
Thai Street Food was never the easiest place to land a meal. When it first opened, there were a few tables for dine-in customers, but those soon disappeared and service became almost entirely takeout-only. You couldn't just walk in and order, either; you had to call to place your order and then receive a time — sometimes an hour or two later — when you could pick up your food (after hitting the door buzzer to be let in) and pay in cash. The reason for the inconvenient setup was that even after moving from a mobile kiosk to a brick-and-mortar kitchen, Killoran continued to cook each dish one at a time, ensuring vibrant freshness in each bite, even if it meant a wait.
A dish as simple as pad Thai became something entirely new in the chef's hands, showing Denver that the iconic noodle dish needn't be sticky-sweet or bland. Flavors came from fistfuls of fresh herbs and spices, not cans of coconut milk, and even brain-boiling heat from a liberal pelting of chiles was somehow balanced with the flavors of galangal, ginger, lemongrass, tamarind and other seasonings.
A message on the restaurant's answering machine promises, "If we find a new location we'll let you know," indicating that Killoran may be looking to relocate Thai Street Food.
The chef confirms that suspicion, noting that the reason for the closing is that the building has a new landlord who canceled her lease. "It's okay, though — it's happening all over," she notes.
Part of the reason her restaurant evolved into a primarily takeout operation, she continues, is because of the limitations of the space and the difficult location off the beaten path in Aurora. She's been talking to the City of Aurora about its business incentive programs for keeping her restaurant in the city, though she says that everything is up in the air right now.
Killoran promises to keep Thai Street Food's website open so that she can let her loyal customers know if and when she finds a new location.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.