Thai food is not particularly hard to find in New York. Every neighborhood in every borough seems to have a handful of local joints that serve up delivery staple curries, noodles, and spring rolls.
Good Thai food, on the other hand, requires some digging. Thai food worth getting up off the couch? Not as easy to find. Thai food worth putting on pants and shoes for?!!? Borderline unheard of.
Enter SriPraPhai, a Woodside favorite that has been killing it in Queens for over two decades. A New York success story, SriPraPhai (pronounced see-PRA-pie, we think) was the brainchild of a Thai nurse turned appliance store owner turned baker turned restaurateur. Initially a small, hole-in-the-wall spot, the place has since expanded into a larger space to accommodate the masses. So if you show up during prime feeding time, be prepared to take a number and wait outside.
The menu at SriPraPhai is as thick as a Bangkok travel guide, featuring dishes from all over Thailand, from North's signature khao soi to a few pages of seafood dishes commonly found in the South. Waiters hustle through the space blindly -- so no walking and texting -- and food is served when it is ready, regardless of how much tabletop you have available. With prices ranging from $5 (steamed dumplings) to $17 (soft shelled crab), nothing here will cost you too much. And that's ideal, because this is the kind of place where you’re going to want to order big and eat even bigger, until your mouth is so on fire that you have to stop.
All in all, a meal worth the whole pants-and-shoes hassle.
Sweet, sour, salty and hot. The key flavors to any Thai kitchen, this salad hits on all four. Refreshing despite some strong heat, this is among the best papaya salads in the city. Go for the variation with crispy ground catfish on top if you want to change it up.
Like a lot of the go-to Thai dishes you order here, these won't necessarily blow you away, but they're definitely a step above your delivery standard. They're flaky, crispy, and, maybe most importantly, not overly greasy.
This hot and sour soup falls a bit short. Overall it's a tad on the sour side, and the mushrooms lack any discernible flavor.
Tender, salty beef balanced against crispy red onions and lots of lime juice. If you like your laab hot, do not be afraid to ask your waiter for some extra heat, as the dish served without instruction is relatively painless. But remember, there is a difference between "American hot" and "Thai hot," so order accordingly.
Curry at SriPraPhai is a must. This one is our particular favorite, thanks to eggplant that is perfectly tender, with just enough crunch to avoid being mushy. Despite some solid kick, the dish maintains a nice balance of flavors throughout. Do not be shy with your sticky rice, either: clump up a ball and soak up those juices.
Served up a few ways, each one offers different toppings, but at the end of the day, the lightly fried crab does the heavy lifting. We prefer the one with chili, garlic, and basil leaves, but any one will do the trick. Works as a cold leftover too.
Initially a recommendation of our waitress, and now something we order on every visit. If you're not familiar with sweet sausage, it is exactly as it sounds - bites of sugary-sweet pork, served over a bed of crispy cucumbers, onions, chilies, and lime juice. Order some.
If your standard Thai order includes drunken noodle (or the equally ubiquitous pad thai or pad see ew), then by all means, get some here, just do not expect to have a religious experience. It's all good, with fresh, nicely cooked noodles, and a noticeable lack of grease on the plate, but you won't come back begging for more.
A basic, refreshing way to soothe your tongue after a chili-heavy meal.