Editors’ Picks

Our Top Ten Thai

No matter where you live, there’s great Thai food to be found in Houston.

By Stephanie Joplin September 1, 2014 Published in the September 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Try the green curry at NJoy Thai in Montrose.

Image: Robb Walsh

Asia Market

Venturing into Asia Market, a small market off Cavalcade, you might think you have taken a wrong turn for Thai. However, this place serves up some of the most authentic and unusual Laotian and Thai dishes in town. The curry puffs are divine: just the right amount of savory and sweet, wrapped in pastry that melts in your mouth. The shrimp and pork egg rolls are hot and crispy, and the red curry is not to be missed. After your meal, take time to explore all the rare offerings and ingredients that stock the shelves and coolers of this charming store.


After all these years, Eastwood gem Kanomwan is still one of the city’s best-kept secrets. It’s impossible to begin a meal here without sampling an order (or two) of the crisp eggrolls stuffed with chicken, vegetables, and clear noodles. Don’t miss the craveable, fragrant tom yum goong—its tangy spice, lemongrass, and shrimp make for something close to perfection. If your budget allows, splurge on the pla prew wan, deep-fried red snapper served with peppers, onion, tomatoes, and pineapple. In the mood for curry? Try the gang pah, a peppery red version with eggplant, bamboo, straw mushrooms, green beans, basil, and lime leaves.

Nidda Thai

With strong roots in Houston, Nidda has remained a steadfast fixture in Montrose for decades. The cozy atmosphere and friendly service lure all sorts of patrons, from couples on romantic dates to families with small children. The chicken toast is a perfect start to your meal: piping-hot, crisp, and savory, paired with a cool and sweet cucumber salad. Entrée-wise, try the stir-fried curry shrimp, with accents of sweet onion, egg, and Thai chile paste, or the barbecue chicken, a specialty of the northeastern region of Thailand. Marinated in herbs and spices, the chicken dish comes accompanied by a tangy green papaya salad and traditional sticky rice.

Nit Noi

As one of the best-known Thai food purveyors in the city, Nit Noi prides itself on standards that have been in place for over 20 years. The chicken satay is not to be missed, served with rich, creamy peanut and zesty cucumber dipping sauces. A generous portion of Thai tea goes perfectly with the fiery “tiger cried,” and the soothing tom kha gai is sure to remedy anything that ails you.

NJoy Thai Restaurant

Quaint, convenient, family-run Montrose cafe NJoy offers up friendly service and budget-friendly prices. Perfect for a business lunch, take-out, or even a romantic date, it offers a great appetizer platter, complete with chicken and pork sate, chicken dumplings, fish cake, and crispy cheese rolls. For an entrée, we love the aromatic ginger chicken. NJoy is currently BYOB, so bring those bottles of wine or beer along.

Songkran Thai Kitchen

If you’re looking to shake things up on a Friday night, look no further than Songkran, the newest addition to Uptown Park, where chef Junnajet Hurapan’s menu complements the restaurant’s hip, sexy atmosphere. We recommend the addictive “heavenly beef,” which will go over well with any Sriracha fan; divine clay-pot crispy duck with red curry and pineapple; the pad see ew, served with tender beef and nicely crunchy Chinese broccoli; and the “son-in-law eggs” prepared with sweet tamarind and shallots.

Thai Cottage

Given its nine locations, you have no excuse for missing Thai Cottage, an always-ideal spot for a cost-effective lunch on the go or a fun evening with friends. If you’re in the mood for panang curry, you’ll find some of the best in the city here. And the spicy basil fried rice has just the right amount of heat, with a hint of subtle sweetness: a perfect accompaniment to any meal.

Thai Jasmine

Overlook Thai Jasmine’s location, behind Almeda Mall. The charming restaurant offers up delightful, authentic fare for takeout, lunch, and dinner service. To begin, order a Thai tea: it’s rumored to be the best (and biggest) in the city. The papaya salad is bright and pungent, and the pad kee mao, or “drunken noodles,” with pork is a favorite. Make sure to be conservative on the heat level: anything above a “three” is expert-level only.

Thai Gourmet

Houston favorite Thai Gourmet, opened in 1995, is surrounded by lush foliage. The decor is simple, in favor of the restaurant’s true focus: its enticing curries and stir-fried noodles. At lunch, opt for the tangy, nutty pad thai accompanied by a house salad, steamed rice, and a spring roll. For dinner, the garlic okra is an absolute must, and the pineapple curry shrimp is delightful. But beware: Thai Gourmet does not take spice levels lightly. Medium should suffice.

Vieng Thai

Situated in a small neighborhood strip center under a plywood façade and red neon sign, Vieng Thai is a BYOB restaurant with a small dining room that is truly a diamond in the rough. The food here is unparalleled. Try the refreshing Lao-style papaya salad or freshly made cheese rolls (when available) as an appetizer. Follow that with an order of the best pad see ew in the city and a Thai-style omelet. And if you’re bringing beer, make sure to try the northeastern Thai-style e-sarnsausage served with chiles, peanuts, and lime, which goes great alongside a pint.

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