Get prepared to set out on a culinary journey through the dynamic boulevards of Chicago as we divulge the city’s Best Thai Restaurants. From the bustling neighborhoods to the covered-up diamonds, we’ll take you on a flavorful adventure that showcases the rich and diverse world of Thai cuisine. Whether you’re a fan of red hot curries, heavenly noodles, or savory stir-fries, Chicago’s Thai eateries have something to charm each sense of taste. Connect us as we investigate the best spots that serve up bona fide flavors, warm neighborliness, and the unmistakable essence of Thailand right here within the Blustery City. Plan to fulfill your desires and savor the tastes of Thailand without taking off Chicago’s dynamic feasting scene.
Arun’s Thai restaurant, one of the longest-standing fancy Thai restaurants in the city, is the place to go for a high-class night out. You can order from the menu or get the 12-course meal, curated by Chef Arun himself. If you opt for the full meal, prepare to take some food home–every course is delicious and you won’t want to waste any of it. Arun’s is part of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die” travel initiative hosted by the New York Times each year. It’s not a mistake–you won’t regret stopping by for an evening at Arun’s Thai Restaurant at least once in your life! It’s a bit on the pricey side, but worth it for the Amish Chicken or the Cradled Prawn (two famous entree options).
For a more down-to-earth Thai restaurant, try Star of Siam. On Illinois Street near downtown, this restaurant is close to everything and is famous for its large portions and fast service. However, this “fast food” approach doesn’t mean that Star of Siam is any less authentic than any other restaurant. The food is delicious and worth a try. If you want to save a little money and maybe stay in for the night, Star of Siam now delivers! You can get quality Thai food right to your door. There is a delivery fee, which varies depending on your distance from the restaurant and the traffic. You can also order online and pick up your food in person.
Sticky Rice, as the name might imply, has more Northern Thai food than Southern Thai food. This means fewer noodles and more rice. The wide variety of entrees on the menu are usually paired with a large side of sticky rice (white rice prepared to be less dry than regular rice). This way, customers can try a variety of flavors. Northern Thailand is closer to Burma and Laos, so many of the entrees you’ll see at Sticky Rice are influenced by those countries. I especially enjoyed the Nam Prik Ong (a pork and vegetable dip) and Kow Soy (coconut noodle soup). If you love Thai food but are looking for something new and unique, Sticky Rice is a great and inexpensive option.
For authentic Thai spices, Andy’s Thai kitchen is the place to go. Most spice ranges from one to ten are mild and moderate compared to authentic Thai spiciness levels. However, if you usually get a seven or eight level of spice, we advise a two or three at Andy’s. It’s some serious Thai spice and is delicious. Of course, not everything on the menu is spicy, and “zero” is an option on the spice scale. You can get the grilled squid, Yen Ta Fo, and fried rice with little to no spice. Curries will have some native spice but can be milder if you ask! Anything on the menu will be tasty because it’s so authentic.
Newly relocated to West Town, Opart Thai House has been a Chicago fixture for years. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and authentic flavors, the restaurant has been in business since 1983. The owners and operators are a Thai couple who continue to experiment with the flavors of their homeland and bring delicious food to Chicago. Although the restaurant is no longer in its iconic Lincoln Park location, it’s easier to get to from downtown now. You’ll be able to swing by and try the spicy fried tofu or the tom yam (some of the most authentic in Chicago). Some say that Opart has the best Thai food outside of Thailand–but that’s for you to decide!
Are you looking for something a little cheaper that embodies not only the delicious comfort of Thai food but also the bustle of a Tokyo internet cafe and the charm of a 1950s diner? That’s a specific request, but Cozy Noodle and Rice hit that vibe exactly. It’s a great place to stop for a quick snack, some boba, and maybe sit and study a while. Cozy Noodle doesn’t offer the full dinner menu that many of these restaurants have, but it has energy very similar to many internet cafes. You could stay here all afternoon, sipping on some Thai Milk Tea (with or without tapioca pearls) and snacking on fried rice. For a quick Thai fix, stop by Cozy Noodle and Rice.
For a true fine dining experience, visit Herb. It’s Thai food, but it’s not the classic Thai food experience. You won’t get a heaping plate of rice noodles slathered in sauce, chicken, and veggies. Instead, Herb takes Thai food to the other extreme: the minimalist extreme. It’s a great place to impress a date or take someone you truly appreciate. At Herb, the entire process of choosing, cooking, and eating your food is part of the experience. The chef usually comes out to explain the seasonally rotating menu to you, and you choose what you want. Then you get to witness her cook and plate it into beautifully arranged dishes. Like most fine dining, the plates are small but the flavors are huge.
Aroy Thai is yet another high-quality, extremely authentic Thai restaurant. It has great entrees and desserts, but what takes the cake are the appetizers. Going to Aroy Thai and not getting the egg rolls and fried shumai (shrimp dumplings) is like going to Millenium Park and missing the Bean. In addition to the fried appetizers, the soups are divine. From tom yum (the traditional Thai appetizer soup) to egg drops, these will warm you up on a cold Chicago day. If you stop by Aroy Thai, you can just get appetizers and be satisfied (although I also recommend the basil fried rice with tofu).
Indie Cafe might be the only Thai place in the area (it’s the only one on this list) that specializes in sushi. Traditionally a Japanese dish, the sushi offered at Indie Cafe ranges from the standard (think California or dragon rolls) to Thai-inspired dishes. If you love sushi and Thai food, it’s almost irresistible to see them in the same place. The Thai-Japanese fusion restaurant is a concept that is seldom discovered. However, Indie Cafe does it well, with multiple kinds of sushi and regular Thai dishes (if someone in your party isn’t a fan of sashimi or sushi). If you can’t decide between Japanese and Thai cuisine, Indie Cafe makes your choice for you.
Rainbow Thai Cuisine was created for college students who need some carbs while studying late at night. There are several locations throughout Chicago. It’s open late, it delivers, and most importantly, it’s cheap. If you don’t want to spend money on your pad thai craving, go straight to Rainbow. Rainbow is good Thai food; just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s inauthentic. However, the lower price does come with a certain cut in ingredient quality. You won’t get the same eating experience as you would at a fancier Thai restaurant, but Rainbow hits the spot when it’s 11 p.m. and you just need some noodles.
Spoon Thai feeds the neighborhood of Lincoln Square with dine-in, delivery, and pickup of Thai food. This restaurant is unique in offering deals on multiple orders of food; if you spend a certain amount of money, you get a bowl of free fried rice. Spend more, you get free egg rolls, and so on. It’s a great way to save money. Spoon Thai offers standard Thai food at a standard price. Keep in mind that when I say standard, it’s standard for this list. The standard is high, and this food is delicious. The dine-in restaurant is BYOB, so you can make your night whatever you want it to be! Eating out with your beer from home picking up your food and taking it back home is a perfect choice.
TAC Quick has a somewhat deceiving name. It seems like the type of place that would serve inexpensive, greasy food and get you out the door as soon as you enter. However, TAC is an exhibition kitchen, meaning that you can watch the chefs prepare the food for you as you wait. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, with murals of famous Asian celebrities on the wall. If you’re in a hurry, you can order ahead and pick up your food. But the real joy of TAC Quick is watching the food being prepared by the experts right in front of you. Open every day of the week, TAC Quick is always available (after 11:30 a.m.) to satisfy for craving for good food and a great atmosphere.
Dao is another Thai restaurant that focuses on getting large portions of food to their customers as quickly as possible. The online menu has more specials than the in-person menu, even though the cafe is adorable and decorated in traditional Thai style. They offer delivery, dine-in, and curbside pickup. However, the speed of the food delivery doesn’t mean that it’s low quality. It’s quite the opposite. The pad thai and Panang curry at Dao Thai Restaurant are some of the best dishes I’ve tried in a long time. If you want to have a night in and eat some late-night noodles, Dao is an amazing choice.
Ghin Khao, located near the Heart of Chicago, is one of the few Thai restaurants to still serve family-style meals. They emphasize sharing food and eating communally in the traditional Asian way. The meals come out on huge platters with small plates for every visitor, so everyone can taste a bit of everything. Ghin Khao fixes their food in front of the guests and prepares some of the best Thai food in the city of Chicago. I really enjoyed their incredible fried pork belly. If you’re looking for a huge bowl of pad thai or an entire cooked fish, come to Ghin Khao and enjoy a fantastic meal in front of the lovely paintings of Thailand. Oh, and bring your family or friends!
Immm Rice & Beyond takes modern Thai street food to the streets of Chicago. Instead of classic huge Thai dishes with lots of noodles and rice, these dishes are smaller and more likely to be fried. It’s the kind of food that you could walk around the streets of a city with–fried boiled eggs, cups of curries, and rice. In addition to the regular dinner menu, Immm Rice & Beyond offers a lunch menu. You can order two or three entree meals to go and enjoy a Thai picnic in the city. The to-go boxes transport well and have multiple delicious options, including all the street food menu items and the various curries and noodle dishes.
Last but not least, Thai Thai is a great option for classic Thai food. It’s an authentic restaurant with good prices in a convenient location. A relatively new restaurant, Thai Thai has proven itself to be on par with the other great Thai restaurants in Chicago. It’s a local favorite in the neighborhood. For standard Thai food, this is a solid option. You can eat basil fried rice, pad thai, Panang curry, or any other Thai food classic. I thought that their coconut curry dessert was delicious as well; make sure to give that a try! It’s a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with classic Thai fare, a good atmosphere, and great prices.
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When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 5 credible sites and blogs, including Chicago.eater.com and Timeout.com.
We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible.
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