Google “best Thai food in Chicago” and you’ll find no shortage of suggestions. Luckily, it’s tough for any of these suggestions to steer you wrong, because we think there’s a lot of solid Thai in the city. Sticky Rice is one of those places you may hear about all the time, and it would be wise to let your ears perk up when it's being discussed - like right now.
Sticky Rice specializes in Northern Thai cuisine, which means it’s more than simply pad thai and pad see ew. That doesn't mean you can't order either of those items, although we would suggest skipping the pad thai. Instead, experiment with a number of dishes from a menu as comprehensive as an Ayn Rand novel. You have an array of options and menu sections ranging from Thai Northern Dish and Thai Curry Dish, to Sticky Rice's Specials. Good news is there are accompanying pictures and numbers for when you can’t mentally paint a picture of the words - a shortcut we don’t think Ms. Rand would much approve. We are all about shortcuts though, so use the pictures to help you decide what looks good.
Deciding what to order at Sticky Rice might still be difficult anyway. The staff is friendly and will help best they can, but often times a language barrier doesn't help. We are cool with it though, because the conversational gap makes us feel good about who is making and serving the food, so roll the dice and give something new a try.
The only thing more difficult than navigating Sticky Rice's menu is getting yourself to the original small and standard looking North Center location. Unless you live close by, Western and Irving Park isn’t the most public transit-friendly area. We think it’s worth a trip though, and make up for the money you spend on cabs with Sticky Rice’s policy of BYOB.
Keep an eye out for fresh baos as a special appetizer. Order them if available.
This version is mostly fried cream cheese. Skip it, there are too many better options.
Hot and sour coconut milk soup with mushroom. Get it with chicken too, and order it if you like a little spicy.
If spicy isn’t for you, then go for this rice soup. It’s simple, but packs a subtle sweetness and overall good flavor.
Get it with the beef. We are fans of these wide rice noodles with egg and chinese broccoli.
A homemade ground pork and pork skin sausage mixed with red curry paste and spicy thai herbs. The texture is very distinct, and it’s got a nice heat on the back end. A worthy appetizer to share for $2.50, or make it an entree by ordering more than one.
Stir-fried chicken with bell pepper, onion, plum sauce, and, of course, mangos. It's served inside of a hollowed out mango, and is a sweet and tasty chicken dish.
Tiger prawns served over a variation of curry sauce with ground chicken, egg, onion, tomatoes, celery, hot pepper, and ginger. Meant to be spooned over “sticky rice” to soak up all the sauce.