The Valley is home to more than a few Thai restaurants. Grabbing a mediocre plate of pad thai is easy enough, but finding quality Thai is another matter entirely. Below are some of our favorites. They run the gamut from an upscale Scottsdale joint to a Mom and Pop eatery closing in on its third decade. Despite their differences, all of them succeed at capturing the essence of Thai food: An inferno of vibrant and delicious flavors.
5. Thai E-San
Like many restaurants on this list, Thai E-San has been a crowd favorite for years. While it isn't exactly in downtown Phoenix, it is close enough to hit during a lunch break. And that's a good thing because their lunch menu checks both the tasty and cheap boxes. If you're looking for something a little more exotic, try their angel wings. It's hard to go wrong with a deep-fried chicken wing stuffed with chicken.
4. Sala Thai
What sets Sala Thai apart from other Thai restaurants is their affection for duck. They have three distinct preparations on their menu but the curry duck is probably the most popular. It's somewhat shocking that duck hasn't found its way onto more Thai menus. The natural richness of duck compliments the rich, almost gravy-like, flavor of their red curry. Mixed with some pineapple and bell peppers it makes for a near perfect Thai curry experience.
Located in a ghost town of a strip mall and hunched in the shadow of a Department of Economic Security office, the Siamese Cat Thai Restaurant isn't much to look at from the outside. But inside you'll find a homey decor, friendly family service, and plentiful Thai food worth stuffing in your face. Their "Thai Beef Noodle Soup," rice noodles in a rich but not too sweet broth, is an excellent Thai flavored alternative to a bowl of Vietnamese pho.
In addition to their phenomenal Thai food, Sa Bai Modern Thai is in the running for, "The Greatest Retrofit of an Existing Wendy's" award. They've even kept the drive-thru open so you pick-up orders can be easily picked up without leaving the air-conditioned confines of your car. Architectural magic aside, the food will be what keeps you coming back. Sa Bai's menu is brief compared to the sprawling of menu of many Thai establishments. But this is a fantastic quality, because what they have, they do well. Their tom kha and interpretations of traditional curries are impressive.
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Pete's Thai probably offers the most authentic Thai food in the entire Valley. If you are up to a culinary safari then try our their ultra-traditional papaya salad with crab and stinky fish. The name says it all and be sure to order it five out five for spiciness. Be warned though, when you order "Thai hot" you are requesting that the chef open a gateway to Hell in your mouth. Thai spicy here can and will reduce even the most seasoned Thai veteran to tears. But with food that tastes as good as this, they'll be tears of joy mixed in.