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Best Thai restaurants in Chicago

Let bold, spicy and complex flavor profiles dominate your palate at the best Thai restaurants in Chicago

1/5
Photograph: Brendan Lekan

Best Thai restaurants for pad thai and other Thai dishes in Chicago: Aroy Thai

2/5
Photograph: Sarah Lawhead

Best Thai restaurants for pad thai and other Thai dishes Chicago: Blue crab salad at ATK

3/5
Photograph: Erica Gannett

Best Thai restaurants for pad thai and other Thai dishes in Chicago: Spoon Thai

4/5
Photograph: Erica Gannett

Best Thai restaurants for pad thai and other Thai dishes in Chicago: Sticky Rice

5/5
Photograph: Erica Gannett

Best Thai restaurants for pad thai and other Thai dishes in Chicago: Tac Quick

Just about every Chicago neighborhood has at least one Thai restaurant, thankfully, because we love them for cheap eats. But just which ones are the best? And which Chicago restaurants serve the most authentic Thai food? From BYOB neighborhood gems to crown jewels by high-profile chefs, serving soups, curries and more, these are the best places to find Thai food in Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Best restaurants in Chicago

Best Thai restaurants in Chicago

1

ATK

Critics' pick

Andy Aroonrasameruang left his longtime perch at TAC Quick Thai Kitchen to open this, Andy's Thai Kitchen. Aroonrasameruang crafts his own funky pork-and-rice sausages, spoons his spicy, eggplant-studded green curry over omelettes, turns out a silky tom kha soup, pairs Chinese broccoli with crispy bites of fried pork belly and throws together a simultaneously fiery-and-cool blue crab salad. This is what Thai food should taste like.

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Lakeview
2

TAC Quick Thai

Critics' pick

The basic menu appeases the masses that flood the simple, minimalist room of this top-notch Thai joint. But the true standouts can be found on the translated Thai language menu, with never-fail flavor explosions such as tart and smoky pork-and-rice sausage; ground chicken with crispy basil and preserved eggs; and warm sweet-and-sour beef jerky. Don’t disregard the specials board; promising rotations have included basil duck stir-fried with garlic and mushrooms, and lettuce wrap–ready deep-fried mackerel with apples, cucumbers, fish sauce and chilies.

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Lakeview
3

Rainbow Cuisine

This hidden gem in Lincoln Square serves up traditional Thai food, like fiery naem khao tod, a funky rice salad with chunks of ham, in a no-frills setting. Fried bananas make a simple, but excellent dessert, and make sure to ask for the Thai menu—that's where the truly special dishes lie.

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Lincoln Square
4

Spoon Thai

If you stick to the basics in this simple but pleasant dining room, you’ll miss out on the best stuff. Get adventurous with kung chae naam plaa, raw shrimp marinated with lime juice, fish sauce, garlic and chili—a searing Thai take on ceviche. The naem khao thawt is incredibly addictive, a crunchy, salty, tangy salad of fried rice, tiny ham bits and flecks of cilantro. Curry fans should try the kaeng som kung sot, a thin, slightly sour, shrimp-dotted tamarind curry.

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Lincoln Square
5

Sticky Rice

What we love about this colorful and bustling storefront is that it keeps our interest with new concoctions every couple of weeks. Check the tiny chalkboard for specials, but supplement with tried-and-true favorites such as house-made spicy fermented pork sausage, probably the best gang hung lay (pork in sweet, garlicky, ginger-laden curry) in town, and khua kae, a stir-fry of chicken, baby corn, eggplant, shredded lime leaves and roasted rice powder that has a gingery citrus tang. Vegetarian options abound.

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Lincoln Square
6

Aroy Thai

Take one step inside this Thai gem hiding under the Brown Line tracks and you’re hit with a full-color poster provided by LTHForum endorsing the authentic eats lurking on the “classics” menu. You’ll find the sour Isaan-style sausage and sweet beef jerky other real-deal Thai joints traffic in, but take advantage of the less common items as well: ground pork simmered in curried coconut milk then plopped over a crispy omelette, meatballs floating in sour broth that smacks of star anise and a beautiful mess of bamboo slivers slicked with green chili paste.

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Ravenswood

Comments

2 comments
Rebecca R
Rebecca R

Siam Noodle and Rice #1

And Thai Town

Doug M
Doug M

Um, Arun's hello? The best.