HOUGuide

The Best Thai Restaurants In Houston

All our favorite spots for laab, drunken noodles, pad thai, and more.
multiple plates of colorful thai food, rice, curry, and soup on a table

photo credit: Liz Silva

Everyone needs that friend who always replies, "How about Thai?” Think of us as that friend, because even though Houston’s not often thought of as a “Thai town,” that’s just plain wrong. From solid takeout havens to epicenters of all things spicy and sour, Houston has a Thai spot for the best laab, green curry, and pad thai.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Thai

East End

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good WineImpressing Out of Towners
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Heaped with near-tongue-obliterating spice, every dish at Street To Kitchen tastes like someone electrocuted your taste buds, but you really liked it. Now in its second, larger location in the East End, Street To Kitchen consistently delivers unparalleled flavor, a high ratio of drapery to tables, and aloof but knowledgeable service that kind of makes you hope you impress the staff by the end of the meal. Sticking to the everyday menu won’t ever disappoint, but don’t pass up on any suggested specials, and always (always) get a mango sticky rice when you can.


Vieng Thai in Spring Branch may not be much to look like on the outside, but just like people, jelly donuts and that crappy dollar store card stuffed with cash your weird uncle hands out on holidays, it’s what on the inside that counts. And here, that means vibrant, bright, and seasoned Thai food, like sour sausage, bright purple sauteed eggplant, and spicy drunken noodles. Take only those who are worthy of flavor here and change locations for dessert (‘cause there is none here).


Everything about dining at Sao Lao Thai Cafe on the Northside feels special, from the ultra-attentive staff that treats everyone like a doting family member, to the unreal-good food bursting with color and favor. Even better, portions are massive, like wide bowls of crispy rice and pork nam khao and silken red curry with ribeye and eggplant in-between funky bites of sour sausage and sticky rice. Open most of the day, Sao Lao makes a great lunch pit stop or a casual date night spot, especially for anyone who likes to BYOB.


When you need a few cans of curry paste alongside a fiery serving of pad thai, hit up Asia Market Thai Lao Food in The Heights. At this combination grocery corner store and quick-serve restaurant, ordering each dish “mild” might be an option, but don’t expect anything to be devoid of heat. Food here starts spicy, as well as funky, tangy, sour, and acidic. Head to Asia Market for a quick lunch, a casual date night, or at the end of any grocery run.


Kin Dee sits in a corner of one of the many North Shepherd strip center complexes in The Heights and makes a great spot for a low key meal or last-minute holy-crap-we-found-a-baby/dog-sitter date. While the cocktails and service can be a bit inconsistent, the beautiful and craveable dishes keep us coming back. Available Monday and Tuesday only, the $42 Khan Tok Platter (with seven different mini dishes—is an unbeatable deal for two, plus it’s served on a gorgeous golden gilded tray. Every visit, we could inhale the stir-fried basil chicken, feel deep satisfaction slicing open the fried egg omelet wrapping to reveal nutty pad thai below, and gleefully get the personal mango sticky rice for dessert.


photo credit: Quit Nguyen

$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsLunch

Sunk into a far corner of Chinatown’s Hong Kong Market’s food court, you might have to adjust your vision to take in all of Anna Thai Food to pick out the actual human being standing inside the tiny, mega-packed stall. And despite the size, Anna Thai Food’s menu is fairly long. We suggest staying focused on the noodle dishes and anything in which you can add a fried egg. Swing in here for a quick lunch and Thai tea, and don’t mind the surrounding tables of folks playing cards or repackaging giant shipments of vacuum-sealed meats. This is a safe space.


At the Galleria restaurant Thai Garden, expect to have a peaceful meal with a bowl of citrus-y tom kha kai and steaming drunken noodles laced with slivers of beef. In between bites, and with a few jazzy covers of top 40 hits in the background, take in the ornate decorations and make a mental note of how to carry the serenity home with you. Thai Garden is the place to be when you have a midday papaya salad craving, need a meal to instantaneously materialize as soon as you order, or are just in dire need of some snappy Thai sausage on a Thursday night.


When you go to Nua Thai, it’s best to come with a game plan. The folks on staff are usually bouncing from waiting tables to dealing with to-go orders, so be sure to know what you want when it’s your turn to order. Most people dining at the Midtown Thai restaurant are groups of friends catching up over bowls of tom yum soup, or the occasional solo diner with their usual order. The food at Nua Thai is vibrant, no matter if you’re dining in or shoveling forkfuls of it from a styrofoam tray, so settle in with a slightly spicy papaya salad for lunch or slurp some drunken noodles to finish off a weekday. And whatever you do, save a little room for some spoonfuls of the pillowy-soft mango sticky rice.


Compact without being too cramped, the Uptown restaurant Songkran Thai Kitchen feels like the right spot for a dinner with your favorite people. No matter when you walk into the Thai restaurant, it’s likely buzzing with friend groups passing steaming pad thai across their table and couples at the bar taking advantage of the daily Happy Hour special (hello, $5 Martini Mondays). The menu is stacked, but be sure that both the chicken satay served with an earthy peanut sauce and the decadent yellow curry both make it to your table. And when it’s nice out, a meal at Songkran is just as enjoyable on the adorable patio.


Opulence is the name of the game at Makiin, an Upper Kirby restaurant that comes from the same team behind Kin Dee. Every inch of Makiin feels glamorous—we’re pretty sure we elevated a tax bracket just by looking at the decorations. Appetizer samplers here come out on shimmering tiered platters, sliced wagyu beef gets presented under a pool of smoke, and drinks come served in glasses that look like diamonds. Makiin is best saved for a bougie date night or when the only way you want to celebrate a milestone is over “award-winning chicken” spritzed in edible glitter.

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