Thai restaurants seem to be on every corner in Chicago. The basic menu can be so similar at each of these places that it can get hard to pick out the better places. The things to look for are authentic dishes, fresh ingredients, and liberal use of spices. If you’re lucky, the restaurant will have a menu in Thai (a hint towards the authenticity of the food), and if you’re really lucky they’ll have an English translation guide. This list has plenty of adventure, as well as some places that put out basic dishes at a very high quality. – Jeff Pearl
Hot Woks Cool Sushi
30 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603
Hot Woks Cool Sushi is sure to cure any Thai cravings. Whether you’re in the mood for Pad Thai, Cashew Chicken, Fried Rice, or Sushi, this loop hot spot has something for every palette. Vegetarian? Hot Woks Cool Sushi will substitute any meat for tofu. Sushi and Thai live happily ever after at 2 additional Chicago locations; 3930 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago – 2032 W. Roscoe Street, Chicago.
Cozy Noodles and Rice
3456 N. Sheffield
Chicago, IL 60657
Right down the block from Wrigley Field you can find a tiny Thai noodle joint decorated in pop culture memorabilia as far as the eye can see. Any noodle dish that has the word “crispy” inserted in front of the regular title is recommended. They add new texture profiles to traditional dishes which keeps patrons coming back.
5951 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60660
Fresh ingredients and lots of spice make the dishes so memorable at Indie Café. They’re also known for some darn good sushi, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Thai fish dishes are out of this world. Also, if you’re someone who eats with your eyes then you’ll fill up quickly at Indie Café.
Joy Yee’s Noodles
Multiple Locations, for more information check their website
There’s no glamour and glitz to Joy Yee’s. You may end up crammed in at a table next to a complete stranger, but that won’t matter since you’ll be too busy wolfing down some of the best Thai noodles in the city. Get one of their Tapioca Freezes to wash it all down while you’re at it.
4608 North Western Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60625
If you’re looking for adventure when you eat, you’ll find it at Spoon Thai. Authenticity is the keyword as you’ll find with any of the curries, noodle dishes, or fish entrees. The specialty items may seem hidden behind fantastic basic dishes, but you should branch out or you’ll miss out.
4018 N. Western ave
Chicago, IL 60618
The menu changes at Sticky Rice keeps people coming back to try the newest tapestry of Thai flavors. Come here looking to try something different and authentic. The sticky rice is a nice side with any dish, especially the fish balls or the pork sausage.
5348 W Devon ave
Chicago, IL 60646
A chalkboard for a menu is a good sign anywhere. It means that changes are frequent and ingredients are fresh. This family run restaurant is seemingly doing all of the right things. Dishes consistently have a very herbal aroma when they come out which only gives hints to the delicious flavors waiting to be discovered.
Jeff Pearl has lived in the Chicago land area his whole life and is currently a medical student at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Food has always been a passion of Jeff’s. In his free time, Jeff enjoys either cooking for his friends, going out to a new restaurant, or training for his next triathlon. Check out his blog, Jeff Eats Chicago.