Philadelphia may be known for its cheesesteaks, but locals really love a good ethnic dish. Across the city and throughout the ‘burbs, mini trips into the exotic flavors of Thailand await. The restaurants are simple and the menus modest, but no one will argue that the flavors are inspired. Spice up your next meal out with a dish from one of these haute Thai spots.
Chabaa Thai Bistro
Sophisticated Thai done right is served up nightly at this Manayunk BYOB. Colorful lanterns, candlelight and draped silks give the space a romantic, intimate feel. Go for classic items like tender spring rolls and flavorful green curry, or order specialties like the Seafood Hot Pot Soup for Two for a unique date night.
Chabaa Thai Bistro is located at 4371 Main Street, Philadelphia, 215.483.1979, www.chabaathai.com
Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant
Wood carvings and tropical plants transport diners at Lemon Grass to the lush Far East, heady on the aromas of the traditional cuisine served here. Looking for theatrics? Order the Young Girl on Fire: a marinated Cornish game hen flamed table-side in a pool of Thai whiskey.
Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant is located at 3626-30 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia, 215.222.8042, 314 S. Henderson Road, King of Prussia, 610.337.5986, www.lemongrassphila.com
White Elephant Cuisine de Thailande
Dark wood walls and trickling waterfalls create an exotic atmosphere at this Bucks County favorite. Enjoy a wonderful rendition of the popular pad thai, or turn the heat up with Evil Jungle Princess’s bold spiced and herbed chicken.
White Elephant Cuisine de Thailande is located at 756 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, 215.663.1495, www.whiteelephantrestaurant.com
Hidden on one of Rittenhouse Square’s less assuming streets, this little gem delivers consistently delicious dishes to the Center City crowd. Regulars give nods to the spicy papaya salad and the pad thai. Be sure to check out the gallery upstairs while you wait for a table.
Smile Cafe is located at 105 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia, 215.564.2502
Eclectic South Street claims this popular eatery, another BYOB where the focus is on big flavor and big portions. Try the Snapper Falling in Love (if only just to say the name while ordering). Vegetarians will also find plenty of selections — anything “mock duck” usually gets high marks.
Tamarind is located at 117 South Street, Philadelphia, 215.925.2764, www.tamarindsouthstreet.com