September 9, 2010

A look at all of Flagstaff's Thai restaurants

There’s something exotic about the foods you find at Thai restaurants. You almost feel special as you savor each of the flavors hitting your taste buds, like someone has just invented and hand crafted this delicacy just for you to enjoy. That's the beauty of Thai food and its combinations of edible aromas from curries with tumeric and coconut to sweet and spicy noodle dishes and still others flavored by limes, lemon grass, peanuts, hot chilis or mint. We're lucky here in Flagstaff, of all places, to have so many top quality Thai restaurants to enjoy. Take a tour around town of these fine eateries....

Swaddee Thai
115 E. Aspen Ave.
Swaddee is at the top of my list for Thai, especially their interpretation of the classic pad Thai with chicken. The number three heat level is perfection bringing together sweet, tangy and spicy in each bite. If you’re new to Thai food, the pad Thai is a great starting dish, it’s Thailand’s national noodle dish afterall, and Swaddee is the place to try a superlative example of it.  Pad Thai has wide noodles with a meat, bean sprouts and egg tossed in a sweet and sour sauce topped with ground peanuts. Other entrees to try: Pad Won Sen with its transparent noodles stir fried with your choice of meat, egg and veggies and Thai Barbecued Chicken prepared with Thai spices, coconut milk and a hot and sour sauce. The atmosphere here is relaxed and inviting as you sit back in the big booths awaiting your pleasure. The lunch specials are an added bonus. For about $8 you get a small salad, mini egg roll, steamed rice (except noodle dishes) and your choice of a chicken, beef, pork, or tofu entrée. Those include red, green, or yellow curry, pad Thai and others. Full menu details are on their website.

Little Thai Kitchen
1051 S Milton
For twelve years, Little Thai Kitchen has been serving up delightfully aromatic dishes with friendly service tucked in a teeny tiny yet quaint feeling spot big enough to serve about 20 people elbow to elbow. The dishes here are on the smaller side and the meat portions aren’t always plentiful. But the food is all carefully prepared and enjoyable. Dishes have some of the coolest names in town like The Evil Princess of a Wild Jungle, which by the way is a highly recommended entrée of chicken, mushrooms, herbs and spices bathed in a creamy coconut sauce. Others of note: Cashew Gai, Gang Kiew Wan, Southern Fried Rice, Ginger Fish and Tiger Rolls. Entrees come with a small salad as an appetizer, which has the best peanut dressing in town. They have the same menu for lunch and dinner, no lunch specials.

Dara Thai
14 S San Francisco Str
This popular Flagstaff eatery has a pleasant, almost romantic atmosphere with colorfully painted walls, some adorned with murals and old photos. Their lunch specials are fairly priced in line with other Thai food in town and come with soup or salad. Here I’d opt for the cucumber chicken soup. Its chicken broth is infused with cucumber plus big chunks of chicken and cucumbers. Dara’s dishes are imbued with rich flavors through and through. Try Tofu Rhad Prik –fried tofu chunks with red curry, bamboo shoots, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers, the Tropical Heatwave with your choice of meat, green curry, veggies all covered in a coconut cream sauce, or classic pad Thai. The medium spiciness leaves lips tingling for a while after your meal which is a nice reminder of the lovely meal you just ate.

Bangkok Thai
2112 N 4th Street
Bangkok Thai is an unassuming cozy restaurant with a pleasing and relaxing grass green, black and white color palate, though you’d never guess from the outside as you drive up to the strip mall that houses it. The bustling lunch crowd is a reassuring sign when you walk in. The staff is friendly and attentive. Lunch specials range from $6.50 to $9 and feature a salad with your entrée. The pad Thai here is sweet and mellow with little bits of a jazzy spiciness that ring in every few bites. Not a lot of chicken but what is in there tastes good. Others to try: Panang, garlic shrimp and the Jungle Tofu with fried tofu in coconut milk, fresh lemongrass, straw mushrooms and Thai spices.

Pato Thai
104 N San Francisco St
Located adjacent to Hotel Monte Vista, Pato Thai is a simple restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere in a good location for downtown wandering. The menu is traditional with specials at lunch starting at $6.95 including an appetizer of fried wontons and small salad. Dishes here are plentiful with nice meat portions. Spicy is something they understand, so consider dialing down a notch from your normal Thai heat level. Dishes to try here: Panang, special pineapple fried rice and, of course, pad Thai, though I find the chicken in the pad Thai here a bit dry but the noodles and sauce are delightful.


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