ATXGuide

The Best Thai Restaurants In Austin

Our favorite spots for khao soi, pad see ew, laab, and more.
The Best Thai Restaurants In Austin image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Very few things get us up off the couch as quickly as the four words “How about Thai food?” Austin might have a reputation as a barbecue city or a taco town, but we’d like to point you to some great bowls of khao soi, excellent pad thais, and fiery laabs. From solid neighborhood joints and takeout trailers to sit-down restaurants where you can test the limits of human spice tolerance, these are Austin’s best Thai spots. 

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Thai

The Domain

$$$$Perfect For:LunchBig GroupsOutdoor/Patio SituationCasual Weeknight Dinner
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The first time we tried the papaya salad at Thai Kun, we cried. That’s not some sappy statement about the transformative power of food. It’s just that spicy. Despite our internal fight-or-flight response, we kept going back for more, because along with that heat was the tart shredded green papaya balanced with lime juice and fish sauce. That same approach to flavors, boldness, and balance makes its way across the entire menu at Thai Kun, and it’s why we’re willing to battle for a parking spot at The Domain to get it. The dining room—with lots of comfy booths and quirky, hand-painted murals—also makes for a pretty nice escape from that busy shopping center outside, too.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

When you’re sick of Thai restaurants that seem to just shuffle around the same dozen or so menu items, head to Kiin Di instead. You’ll find dishes like Rip & Dip Roti, Killer Noodles, and Dang! Curry that all add a bit of intensity to an otherwise chill Thursday night dinner run. The Thai-style fried chicken successfully tests the upper limits of poultry crispiness, and crispy soft shell crab swimming in a pool of creamy egg curry might just be one of the best curries we’ve eaten out of a food truck. It doesn’t hurt that this truck is parked at Corner Bar, a chill, mostly outdoor sports bar in South Austin. Grab a beer from inside—it’ll help with the spice, or at least help you forget about it. 

One does not simply walk up to Dee Dee—it requires a bit of planning and knowing exactly what you want to eat a few hours ahead of time. This trailer parked at Radio Coffee & Beer in South Austin is available exclusively by pre-order, but with just a little bit of patience and foresight, you’ll be able to eat some of the best papaya salad, moo ping, and laab in town. Due to its outdoor, pre-order nature, Dee Dee is optimized for takeout, or a casual dinner where you can sit on the patio of Radio with an ice-cold pint of something local in an attempt to tame some of the intense spice from your second helping of papaya salad. 

You might think you’re lost before finally finding the parking lot of Little Thailand, located just east of the airport. Outside, you’ll find a red roof with gold trimmings that make the whole place feel like it was plucked off a movie set, but inside is a fairly bare-bones dining room. The pad thai is some of the best we’ve had in the Austin area—it’s slightly sweet, a little sour, and incredibly savory—but make sure to dive deeper into the menu of Thai specialties like the spicy ground chicken larb or the savory egg omelet fried to a dark brown finish and topped with ground pork. It’s also BYOB, but there’s nothing nearby, so plan your convenience store stop accordingly.

The regional specialties at Khon Thai are what make this Allandale spot stand out. Pickled and fried pork ribs are crispy, savory, and a bit tart, and the bite-sized ribs make another noteworthy appearance in the fiery kua kling praram, which brings out even more of that rich flavor hiding in the bones. The dining room is spacious, so show up with friends, snag one of the big tables, and grab a few curries to share.

If all you see walking in are the big, colorful letters “SUPER” outside of the restaurant, you know everything you need to know. Up front is a takeout operation where phone lines buzz and guests shuffle in and out every few seconds to pick up their orders. But just past that host stand is a cozy dining room and a long bar where you can order from a massive menu of Thai classics and regional specialties. Snag some spring rolls—they’re packed full of basil for a refreshing herbal punch—and a papaya salad to help clear the sinuses and your palate a little. Then get some crispy fried duck swimming in a pool of red curry with cherry tomatoes, pineapple, and lychee. It’s rich, spicy, and a little bit sweet from all that fruit. 

Deckhand may look like just an oyster bar from outside, but it’s also secretly one of Austin’s best Thai restaurants. Take a quick glance at Deckhand’s menu and you’ll see popcorn shrimp, oysters on the half shell, and boudin sausage. Keep looking and you’ll start to see chicken satay, green curry soup, and thom ka gai. Start with an order of oysters—raw or broiled with crab meat, bacon, and cheese—then make your way through Thai classics in a nautical-themed dining room that’s decked out with twinkly lights and “Gone Fishin’” signs. 

Titaya’s straddles a middle ground between classic Thai staples (like tom yum, pad see ew, and pad ka prao) and fusion-y creations (think fried polenta crab cakes with sweet corn). We like some of the contemporary dishes, but Titaya’s is at its best with the classics. Start with a fire pot of tom kha, order some pad see ew with large, perfectly cooked shrimp, and grab some fried rice to share with the table. The dining room is semi-dark and cozy, but with plenty of space—it’s just upscale enough to make Titaya’s fitting for a casual-ish date night, but not so relaxed that you should show up in sweats (unless you’re getting takeout). 

Thanks to ingredients like fish sauce and dried shrimp, a lot of Thai food isn’t super vegetarian-friendly. But Thai Fresh does offer a very flexible menu that allows for a ton of substitutions. As a result, we find ourselves here often—sometimes when we’re trying to meet in the middle with friends with picky diets, but sometimes just for an order of excellent khao man gai (sorry vegans, no subs on that one). Start with some mushroom egg rolls, then get some pad thai with pork belly or tempeh. A meal here tends to fall on the lighter end, but you can certainly fix that by doubling up on desserts (which actually are mostly vegan). 

Thai Thani is parked behind a Valero on Manor Road, but it’s hard to miss. It’s a bright green and yellow trailer that looks like a box of Sprites—maybe grab a cold one from the gas station to go with dinner. The menu at this mostly takeout operation features most of the Thai classics you’re probably familiar with, like green curry, pad thai, and fried rice, but we especially like the pad see ew here. The Chinese broccoli gets nice and charred, and the brown sauce it’s all served in is rich, savory, and just a little bit sweet.

With four locations in the Austin area, there’s a good chance you’re not too far from a Madam Mam’s now. And no matter which location you find yourself at, you’ll be able to order from the same, massive menu that spans almost 100 different items. You can get solid takeout staples like pad thai and green curry here, but we like to get the noodle soups and chicken wings. The wings come in nine flavors that range from the sweet and tangy “Little Angel” to more extreme “Thai Devil” levels of spice. 

Sap’s is probably the only spot in Austin where you can find pad see ew, kao soi, and crab fried rice when the craving strikes at 2am. The menu is massive and covers just about every Thai dish we can think of, but if you’re unsure where to start, we’re big fans of the noodle soups and stir-fried noodles, especially the guay teaw kua gai that comes with pickled radish, a pile of fresh lettuce, and sweet and sour sauce to add a bit of brightness to the savory noodles. At the end, make sure to order some homemade ice cream—there’s a roasted peanut flavor that you won’t find anywhere else in town. 

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