Portland >Food & Dining > Lemongrass
1705 NE Couch St, Portland, OR | Directions 9723245.523829 -122.648314
Neighborhoods: Kerns, Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program
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.
#1 Thai Food !!! BAM!!! – This restaurant is by far the best and only Thai food restaurant in the Pacific NW! I first ate at Lemongrass at their first location on - I think - Glisan Blvd. about 13 years ago or so. If you're looking for first rate service (and I'm a total service appreciative person) then don't bother, if you're looking for the most incredible, authentic, full of flavor Thai food then this is your place. First you have the restaurant in an old victorian style home: totally cool, run by the owner and sole chef, Shelly, and most times she has only one employee: host, waiter, server and busser all in one - hence the not so stellar service. If you can get past the slow service at times then you're in for a Thai treat like you've never experienced. I live in Vancouver, and would rather not have to drive into Portland to go to dinner, but as my husband and I ate tonight with another couple we realized that we have been settling for less than excellance with our Thai food experiences. The Lemongrass flavor is stellar, the spice is HOT (and there's the all important "tray of death" if you need it hotter), the portions are more than enough, and you can't find a better Phad Thai Noodle dish anywhere, which is the staple of Thai food, think about it - they all taste like ketchup - not at Lemongrass. The curries are amazing, the spicy fried rice - yum, the garlic/basil dishes- mouthwatering, Shelly is a goddess!!! Thank you for your superior cooking skills and mastery of your homeland cuisine and thank you for bringing yor culinary excellence to Portland, Oregon and the surrounding areas. You opened my tastebuds to another form of Asian food and in my world the only Asian food. Thank you, thank you, thank you Shelly........
My favorite! – I love their pad thai. My spice level is 3 and it's just perfect! Food is consistently good everything I go there. Supurb!
BEST THAI RESTAURANT YOU WILL EVER FIND! – I have been three times now and each time I found the service to be exceptionally gracious. The restaurant itself is in a NE neighborhood Victorian home decorated simply in neutral shades which provide a casual yet elegant atmosphere. The food is made to order fresh and you can chose your own level of spice "heat" from mild to very, very hot. I recommend the salad to start which is especially a treat if you have never had a Thai salad. Holding your lettuce leaf in hand, wrap up the spicey chicken ingredients and it eat burrito style. Delicious. For dinner order a variety and share. The peanut sauce is excellent!
This is the best Thai food my husband and I have ever had.
Best Thai in Portland and anyplace else I've been – Whenever I'm feeling flush -- because it's a bit spendier than most Thai places here -- I head to Lemongrass. There is simply no comparison between LG and Typhoon (inexplicably overrated) and the rest. I try mightily to vary the order but can't stay away from the curries! As someone else pointed out, they're the rarely experienced fresh curries, hand-pounded by owner/cook Shelley in a mortar and pestle. And they taste it. Incredibly robust and flavorful. I do occasionally weaken from the green/red/yellow curries to order a fried rice or a paid see-ew (not on the menu but available if you ask) or a pad thai -- all superior examples of artful Thai cooking. The deep-fried tofu appetizer is wonderfully satisfying too. The restaurant's housed in a charming old Victorian. The service, admittedly slow and spotty sometimes, has improved with the new server. (A rather creepy, hostile server worked there for quite awhile - thank god he's gone.) Two minor drawbacks: (a) the Thai iced tea is indeed way too small, served in a juice glass as somebody mentioned. I don't know why this is the case. And (2) any newbie must be careful about ordering heat levels. The restaurant boasts 1-20 but even a ZERO rating has some heat. A .5 is equivalent to medium heat and a 1 is hot. I can't believe anybody could order anything beyond a 2, certainly not a 6 or 12 or 18! You'd have to call the fire department. It would make more sense to simply say mild, medium, hot, and incinerating. Incidentally, the owner's sister has the other really great Thai restaurant in town, Kuhn Pic (I think it's spelled) near 34th & Belmont in SE. Also always worth a visit, though the waits tend to be longer than at Lemongrass. I've had 35+ years of eating Thai food on the East and West coasts.
Best Thai Food Anywhere – Sorry that other reviewer had a bad experience--he/she must be a sour person who just doesn't get it. The slow service is part of the home-made charm. The food is stellar! Walking into The Lemongrass is like entering a spa: luxuriant aromas, and a room full of sweating people--from the spice of course!
This is one of the few Thai restaurants where the chef HAND-POUNDS the curry pastes in a mortar & pestle. Her flavors are unique and have way more dimension than a run-of-the mill Thai place (most Thai restaurants use pre-fab commercial curry pastes.)
The higher prices reflect the superior calibre of the food. You simply cannot get quality like this anywhere else. I live in San Diego. When I travel to Portland, a visit to The Lemongrass is mandatory. I do not bother with Thai food in San Diego because it won't compare with what I can get at The Lemongrass.
excellent thai foodmaybe the best in town, but far too understaffed – The food is exquisite. Fresh, delicate balances of flavor. They're not afraid to turn the heat on the dishes! Unfortunately Lemongrass is also painfully understaffed. The poor service undermines an otherwise excellent experience. I certainly don't mind waiting for anything (at the door, for the food to arrive to the table, etc) but it's unfortunate when you can go 25 minutes without even catching sight of the server again.
The ultimate Thai dichotomy: chest-pounding heat in a sweet Victorian setting. – In Short
Housed in a quaint Victorian house, this spot often is packed with regulars dining among serene Thai decor and neutral colors. The heat is turned up with the menu, featuring hot curry dishes and Thai noodle chicken (pad thai). Fried tofu with tangy sweet-and-sour sauce and prawn salad with apples, cucumbers and are popular dishes. But green curry, especially when ordered with flaky, sweet tilapia, which is flaky and sweet, is a milder alternative.
The best, freshest, friendliest Thai! – Don't stop here for lunch or dinner if you are in a hurry! The food took a while, but that was because it was cooked to order and was exceedingly fresh, hot, and delicious!! The service was friendly and helpful. The drink glasses were small, but were refilled often. The jasmine tea was wonderful. The noodles were fresh and the Tom Ka soup was scrumptious. I like my Thai Food HOT, lots of Thai restaurants are disappointing in that their Hot is Medium at best. Lemongrass has truly hot, flavorful, fresh food. I was satified with number 2 on my soup and number 3 on my meal. I will be going back and will recommend to family and friends. The only caveat is that you have to be patient as the food preparation takes time, but it is well worth the wait.
Riding on the Wrong Reputation – While the food at Lemongrass is good, the portions and pricing are out of whack. I've never seen a smaller Thai Iced Tea... it was in a juice glass! The service was border line and the server a bit over the top for my liking, calling out to other tables, "Hey, are you waiting for the men? Opps... sorry." The old, east side home is nice, but the cooler in the middle of the dining room tends to detract from the antiques. The patio wasn't open yet because of, "Yellowjackets... I don't want to get sued! Enough, I'll never go back.
Memorable -- A Thai Cult Classic! – There were waiting parties blocking the door. An insignificant paper sign near the entrance warned the observant not to attempt payment with credit cards -- Luckily, I'm a CitySearch man. Opening the door, you enter into the inadequate waiting area, gaining a full, unromantic view of a busy kitchen. No one ever greeted or acknowledged our presence, which slowly ate at my patience. I discovered -- To my horror -- a podium, white printer paper and green crayon for writing a name on the waiting list. I did.
I waited 45 minutes. A gentleman sat us, wisely refusing to serve hotter food than a 4 out of 10. Grrr -- I ordered a 4, soon realizing that this was the best and hottest Thai food I had ever eaten. I had it bumped to a 10.
Nowhere in the city comes close to this place if you like it hot.
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