Texas’ largest city, Houston, is a microcosm of the U.S, home to the most culturally diverse populations and one of the largest cities in land area. Houston’s cultural diversity manifests in one of the nation’s best culinary destinations, with the most authentic food from every corner of the world.
Whether you’re in Houston to explore its incredible museum district or to catch an Astro’s game at Minute Maid Park, a delicious meal is also going to be part of the itinerary. Houston’s large Asian population makes for an excellent selection of authentic Asian cuisine from Chinese to Indian.
I was specifically interested in the best Thai restaurants during my most recent trip to Houston, and I have compiled an eclectic list of my favorites.
6324 Richmond Ave Houston, TX 7705
Located in the Mid-West neighborhood, Thai Gourmet Restaurant is a family-friendly, casual Thai eatery with a vast menu of Thai favorites and lesser-known traditional dishes. Their Thai food is so authentic that it comes with a warning from the kitchen about how spicy “hot” and “spicy” dishes really are.
Anyone that knows great Thai food can appreciate that when it comes to spice, Thai food isn’t for the faint of heart. That said, you can specify mild or “not hot” and customize any menu item. One of their signature dishes is deep-fried cheese rolls served with sweet and sour sauce.
6929 Long Point Rd Houston, TX 77055
Vieng Thai offers Thai home cooking at its best in a friendly, large dining room in the Hillshire Village neighborhood. They’re a neighborhood favorite for take-out and lunches with fast and friendly service for customers looking for a quick, hearty home-cooked Thai meal. They’re also a great family dinner spot.
Vieng Thai has some of the best red curry in town, which they serve in various varieties as you traditionally find in different regions of Thailand.
My favorite was the country-style red curry they call Jungle Curry that doesn’t contain coconut milk like most curries do. Curries come with different vegetables, and you customize your order to add meat, shrimp, or tofu.
4822 Fulton St #2603 Houston, TX 77009
Located in the Northside Village neighborhood, a quick drive from Moody Park and the Little Whiteoak Bayou, Asia Market Thai Restaurant is a casual Thai restaurant and pub. Their contemporary dining room with stained cement floors and dark wood bar and partitions create a cool ambiance to enjoy a draft beer and contemporary Thai cuisine.
They have great lunch combos on the weekdays, with fried rice, noodle, or curry dishes with eggrolls and soup included for under 10$. They also offer both Thai and Laos-style dishes. I was intrigued by their “hidden menu” section with more obscure Thai and Laotian dishes.
With locations in West Chase and West University, Thai Bistro is a refined neighborhood Thai eatery, offering both traditional dishes and innovative creations. Both locations have formal yet inviting atmospheres with great outdoor patios to enjoy alfresco dinners and lunches.
Their food has garnered local acclaim, featured in both The Houston Press and The Houston Chronicle. Their Basil Inferno dish warranted a feature article in the Houston Press, named one of the best dishes in all of Houston.
It consists of pork or chicken sautéed with fresh garlic, onion, bell pepper, fresh basil, and vegetables in Thai chili pepper sauce.
1010 W Cavalcade St Unit D Houston, TX 77009
Street Food Thai Market is an Asian grocer and Northern Thai and Laotian restaurant owned and operated by a family with over 25 years in the Thai food industry. Located in the trendy Heights neighborhood, Street Food Thai Market gives customers friendly, welcoming service and some of Houston’s most authentic regional dishes.
Houstonia Magazine and Eater Magazine rave about Street Food Thai Market’s ultra-spicy and flavorful dishes that you won’t find anywhere else. Of course, you can find the typical coconut curries and pad Thai dishes, but I recommend trying their regional specialty like the gaeng om, a northern Thai mushroom stew that packs some serious heat.
1533 N Shepherd Dr. Suite 160 Houston, TX 77008
Kin Dee is an upscale, bustling Thai restaurant and cocktail bar in the heart of The Heights in a fun, tropical space with modern décor and awesome prints of Thai imagery stamped on the walls. Their dishes run the gamut of Thai specialties and are among the most beautifully presented I’ve seen. You can also catch live performances of traditional Thai music on the weekends.
Kin Dee has a delicious selection of tropical Asian-inspired cocktails like the Asia-Tini with pear-flavored vodka, sake, and lychee juice with pear and lime wedge garnish. Their happy hour is early evening on weekdays and late night on the weekends with discounted prices on their best dishes. I recommend the rich and creamy Panang Curry with shrimp and pork.
10130 Grant Rd #224 Houston, TX 77070
Located in northwest Houston’s Cypress suburb, Mango Tree Thai Bistro is a friendly, unassuming neighborhood haunt offering all the well-known favorites. They’re locally-owned and operated, and pride themselves on their warm hospitality and scratch-made dishes prepared with only the freshest ingredients. Their marble-tiled floors and open kitchen make for a cozy dine-in experience.
You can find Thai and pan Asian favorites at Mango Tree. I started with Japanese-style shrimp tempura with sweet chili sauce, which was crispy, light, and delicious. I also loved their Pineapple Fried Rice with chicken, egg, peas, carrots, yellow onions, tomatoes, cashews, pineapple, and turmeric-curry powder with special sauce.
1101 Uptown Park Blvd #8 Houston, TX 77056
Teetering between Tanglewood and the ritzy River Oaks neighborhood across from the stunning Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Songkran Thai Kitchen is an upscale Thai bistro and cocktail bar using imported ingredients to create elegant contemporary takes on classic Thai cuisine.
The adult crowd can enjoy a variety of creative tropical cocktails along with a sophisticated dinner. That said, they offer excellent take-out and delivery packages meant to be eaten family-style with various dishes included.
I loved their Thai-inspired ceviche, with raw white fish marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk. Their crispy whole red snapper Pla Tod dish was almost too pretty to eat.
1226 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006
Located in a giant, colorful, and festive dining room in the Hyde Park neighborhood, Nidda Thai Cuisine is a family-friendly traditional Thai Restaurant.
I loved the brightly colored walls and high, steel-beamed ceilings with delicate, old-fashioned chandeliers dangling from them. The seemingly random décor gives Nidda a quirky and hip atmosphere befitting of the surrounding neighborhood’s younger population.
The vast menu at Nidda is as traditional and authentic as Thai food gets. I enjoyed the fresh spring rolls with creamy peanut dipping sauce, which they served cut in half to reveal their colorful innards and made them easier to eat.
3995 Richmond Ave Suite B, Houston, TX 77027
Thai Cottage is one of Houston’s oldest and pioneer Thai restaurants with 9 locations in Houston and the surrounding suburbs of Katy, Pearland, Sugarland, and The Woodlands. Founded in 1987 by Thai native couple Chai and Ting who vowed to introduce Thai food to Americans, Thai Cottage has become a treasured Houston institution.
Thai Cottage is one of only a handful of restaurants to earn the Thai SELECT seal, a Thai government-approved seal of authenticity for Thai restaurants abroad. Since they’re the most authentic, I wanted to taste their Pad Thai, the most famous Thai dish, with rice noodles, green onions, baked tofu, bean sprout, egg, and a special sauce with crushed peanuts and lime garnish. Delicious!
6501 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston, TX 77011
Located in the Magnolia Park neighborhood, Street to Kitchen is the essential “hole in the wall” Thai joint and mom-and-pop eatery that you know will have the most delicious and authentic food just by the feel of it.
They pride themselves on using authentic ingredients and adhering to the strictest Thai cooking traditions. Their motto is “unapologetically, authentically Thai,” using scratch-made pastes, and classic recipes you will find in the vibrant Thai street-food culture.
I loved their Som Tam, a spicy green papaya salad with fresh chili, tomato, and crushed peanuts tossed in lime juice, fish sauce, and dried shrimp.
917 Franklin St #101 Houston, TX 77002
Thai Café is a quaint and inviting Thai eatery in the heart of downtown Houston, right across the bayou from the University of Houston’s downtown campus, making it a favorite for businessmen and students alike.
The dining space with its old hard-wood flooring, brightly colored doors, and lush plants adorning the walls is a warm and inviting atmosphere for lunch and dinner. Their menu has an impressive selection of curries and seafood-centric dishes that are well worth the lofty prices.
I loved the scallop green curry with bamboo, green beans, peppers, and basil. I also enjoyed their signature Crab fried rice with hearty chunks of lump crabmeat, egg, and green onion.
1420 Eldridge Pkwy Houston, TX 77077
Naam Kho Thai Restaurant & Bar is a restaurant in the Memorial neighborhood right off the Terry Hershey Park hike and bike trail serving Thai street food and comfort food. Located in a small dining space with a full bar and streetside seating, Naam Khao specializes in the foods sold in the famed open markets around Thailand that attract customers from every age and socioeconomic background.
Naam Khao uses locally sourced ingredients to prepare the most authentic Thai comfort foods like sweet and spicy fried tofu with peanut, giant bowls of hot noodle soup, and my personal favorite, Larb minced meat salad with roasted rice, mint, cilantro, red onion, scallion, lime juice, dried chili flakes, and fish sauce.
2049 W Alabama St Houston, TX 77098
Located in the Upper Kirby area a few blocks from the stunning Menil Collection Museum and Park, Thai Pepper Restaurant is a neighborhood institution, family-owned and operated since 1983. The friendly service, comfortable dining room, and always flavorful authentic Thai food accounts for its long tenure in one of Houston’s prime restaurant districts.
They have a wide variety of appetizers, noodles, curries, fried rice, and a separate vegetarian section, not to mention some of Houston’s best mango and sticky rice dessert. My favorite dish was the Chef’s signature Royal Massaman Curry, with a combination of beef, chicken, shrimp, and scallops braised with carrots, broccoli, and pineapple in a spicy peanut curry sauce.
2520 S Voss Rd Houston, TX 77057
Thai Spice is a casual, family-friendly Pan Asian restaurant and buffet with a diverse selection of Asian favorites from Pad Thai to Sushi. Located in the Mid-West neighborhood a few blocks from The Houston Flea Market, Thai Spice is an affordable restaurant and a favorite spot to enjoy a fresh and varied Asian buffet.
While many Chinese buffets don’t get the best rep for freshness, Thai Spice’s buffet is fresh and beautifully plated, with a wealth of regional dishes from Thailand, Japan, China, and beyond. You can always order from a traditional a la carte menu with made-to-order dishes like Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Tofu, and Tiger Cry.
14642 Memorial Dr Houston, TX 77079
Zaab Der is an authentic Thai eatery in the heart of Memorial that specializes in Isan-style dishes from the Northeast of Thailand. The large brick-floored dining room with mismatched dining furniture and a rainbow of different colored walls, doors, and flowery wallpaper is oddly endearing, making for a festive atmosphere to enjoy authentic plates as colorful as their walls.
I highly recommend starting with crispy Zaab wings marinated with sweet chili sauce. I loved the sea bass Panang with Chilean sea bass in a beautiful Panang curry sauce with asparagus, bell pepper, and Kaffir leaves served with a dome of purple organic berry rice. It was stunning to the eyes and the tastebuds.
1209 Montrose Blvd Houston, TX 77019
Located in the trendy Montrose neighborhood, Khun Kay is a fast-casual curry counter and Thai Café in a cute house-like dining space with a dog-friendly outdoor patio. They serve Thai street food at its best with a fast, made-to-order authenticity you’d find at any street stall in Thailand for an affordable price.
I loved their Khun Kay noodle dish with stir-fried flat noodles with chicken, shrimp, egg, bean sprouts, broccoli, carrots, and green onion with pad Thai sauce. They also make my favorite street-food noodle soup of Tom Yum with ground chicken, fish balls, and bean sprouts in a super spicy Thai hot and sour broth.
2111 Fannin St STE 109 Houston, TX 77002
Nara Thai is a well-known, trendy Thai restaurant chain with various locations and dining experiences from fashionable bistro to fast-casual counter kitchens. Nara Express is Nara Thai’s fast-casual version, located in Midtown with a small dining area. More popular for take-out and delivery, Nara Express upholds the Nara brands’ standard of excellence and authenticity.
Their popular Thai coffee and iced tea are now bottled, so you can grab a few for the road and another few to store in your fridge at home. They have the best, most aromatic Tom Ka in town, a rich coconut milk-based soup with mushrooms, chicken, galangal, kaffir leaves, and fresh lime juice.
2473 S Braeswood Blvd Suite A Houston, TX 77030
Located in Braeswood Place blocks from the Brays Bayou, Morningside Thai is a multi-generational family-owned traditional Thai eatery that’s been a neighborhood favorite since 1985. Whether you want a delicious take-out meal or wish to dine inside their humble, comfortable dining space, their home-cooked authentic meals come from generations of tried and true family recipes.
I loved their flowery sets of old-school glass plates and serving bowls. It added to the home-cooked vibe. Their best seller is the Pad Thai which they stir fry in a tangy tamarind sauce with egg, crispy tofu, bean sprouts, scallions, and crushed peanuts.
My favorite dish was the Morningside Clay Pot with steamed shrimp, chicken, green bean, broccoli, carrot, and ginger with glass noodles in house sauce.