Regardless of whether you're a salad roll and pad thai stickler, or prefer to venture into the realm of coriander-rubbed boar collar and fried fermented rice and pork sausage, Portland has something for every Thai enthusiast, from humble neighborhood holes in the wall to world-renowned culinary groundbreakers. Here are a few of my local favorites.
Thai dining doesn't get any cozier than this genteel husband and wife-run restaurant set in a beautifully renovated Victorian tucked snugly into a residential neighborhood a block off Burnside. Classic curries and noodle dishes are fresh and deliciously executed and the service is always gracious. Perfect for date night, but don't be in a rush, because service is relaxed.
As quirky-romantic destinations go, there’s nothing quite like a three-hour meal at this curious Belmont Thai hidey-hole run entirely by a husband-wife team who’ve still managed to stay together even after owning a restaurant together for years.
'Tis important to approach this Portland dining icon with a sense of adventure, an open mind about what constitutes Thai cuisine, and an affinity for spice, which is why we don't take my mother anymore. Everything's good, but...it's kind of all about the wings for me.
Widely revered for its airy high-ceilinged loveliness and vast tea selection, this elegant Sellwood tea house also makes a mean bowl of beef pho. Get the bright green Vietnamese wedding cake for dessert.
While you wait for your table at Pok Pok (and if you go anywhere remotely near dinner, you’ll be waiting), they’ve devised an ingenious way for you to spend some extra cash in the meantime—cross the street to this hip & happening sister bar for a few of the excellent cocktails and perhaps an order of the charcoal-toasted dried cuttlefish. I personally stick to the drinking vinegars, they’re uniquely delicious, refreshing, inexpensive, and a nice palate primer for the feast to come.
Sophisticated cocktails developed to complement the bright, unique Thai flavors at this hip 28th Avenue eatery make for a well-balanced meal, and the long communal tables in the center of the space make for interesting random interactions. Great spot for weekend brunch if you're craving something beyond ordinary breakfast fare...the rice porridge with steamed greens and an egg is the ideal cold day comfort food.
Pok Pok petite in size, but with all the frisky flavors of its Southeast mothership, this Prescott Street Thai place has the drinking vinegars and Ike's fish sauce wings you've come to know and crave, but without the dramatic waits and flocks of gastrotourists lurking about. Lovely picnic table-lined patio out back is great for warm weekend afternoons with friends.
If exceptionally-executed Thai is what you seek, this is the spot--elegant interiors, sweet servers and artistic presentation take your pad thai experience to another level. Try the decadent Angel Wings and wild Sockeye salmon in panang curry.
This Thai hidey-hole on Hawthorne is one of my favorite cold weather destinations, especially when I'm craving a quick soup fix--my go-to is the Kuay Tiew Tom Yum noodle soup with ground pork, shrimp, Thai herbs and a big crispy wonton.
There's no shortage of Thai places along Hawthorne, but this one claims perhaps the most central of locations and being steps from the Bagdad, makes for a good stop pre/post $3 movie night. Try the roasted pork and crab noodles.
Where else can you get a big bowl of pork belly curry, a cuppa hot Thai tea, and some fresh lemongrass to go in about 10 minutes flat? This new noodle bar/market is an exceptional addition to the blossoming lower Buckman hood, and since they're kindly open until 3am on weekend evenings, it's also a beacon in the night for last callers stumbling out of nearby bars.