The Top 10 Thai Restaurants in Las Vegas
I love Thai food.
It’s reasonably healthy and it’s delicious. Thai food also is affordable, especially when considering the rich diversity of fresh ingredients and quality of care that goes into preparing each meal. For slightly more than the cost of a hamburger and fries (gag reflex!), many Thai restaurants offer affordable lunch specials which are far better for you, taste good, and include lots of variety. Lunch specials often run $7-10. Dinners usually cost only a few dollars more. Talk about a bargain.
A new Thai restaurant seems to open up here in Las Vegas just about every week. According to one estimate, there are more than 200 Thai-themed restaurants in the city. No other ethnic food has enjoyed such a rapid rise in popularity, not just here in Las Vegas, but just about everywhere across America. Twenty years ago, only a handful of Thai restaurants existed. Now, many American tastes are just as familiar with Pad Thai and Pad See-Ewe as pizza and fried chicken.
Ranking the best ten Thai restaurants in the city is quite difficult. First, there are so many of them. I estimate that I’ve only tried perhaps 60 to 70 Thai establishments (many more, if other cities are included), so my local rankings are admittedly incomplete. Accordingly, popular websites such as Travel Advisor and Yelp can be excellent indicators of quality and consistency. Rarely do the consensus rankings get it wrong.
Let’s do this “top ten countdown” in reverse order. Here are my top ten Thai restaurants in Las Vegas.
(10) Archi’s Thai Bistro (multiple locations) — Archi’s now offers three locations, on the West Side, which all do good business and are equally reliable. Although there’s nothing particularly creative about Archi’s menu or presentation, the food here is consistently both good and affordable. Call-in for take-out is a popular option for Las Vegas locals. Never a bad meal. Always satisfied. All the curries are excellent.
(9) Lucki Thai (Southeast) — Located on Silverado Ranch right off the I-15, this is a great restaurant for mixing things up. They will make just about anything you want to order (and get it right). Like many Thai-themed restaurants, this is run by a family who is always on the premises. An older woman seems to do just about everything — waiting tables, seating customers, cleaning tables, and even cooking. Be warned: Small dining area, with only a few tables.
(8) Panna Thai Restaurant (Southwest) — This is a hidden gem, which is little known except to those who live mostly in the south of Summerlin area of town. It’s on the southern tip of Fort Apache Road. In the past ten years, I’ve dined here probably 50 times. Not only is food always good, but the presentation is also exquisite. Clean, affordable, excellent service. Basil beef dishes are my favorite.
(7) Lemongrass (Cosmopolitan) — I discovered this popular establishment while playing poker on the night at the Aria. The Lemongrass even delivers into the room. Excellent food and a varied menu make this one of the best Thai restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. Slightly more expensive than others on this list due to location, it’s still a relative bargain compared to all the overpriced rip-offs you’ll find elsewhere. You can’t go wrong with the Pad See Ewe.
(6) Le Thai (Downtown) — This place is a real hole in the wall, what some might consider a dive. In the summer it’s hot and often crowded. Still, it overcomes these shortcomings with excellent food and friendly, quick service. Rated in many guidebooks as one of the city’s best cheap restaurants, it’s a staple of downtown dining.
(5) Pin-Kaow (multiple locations) — There are locations all over town, and I’ve been to three of them. Popular for lunch specials, you won’t ever find a disappointing meal here. Standard Thai fare, which gets a higher grade than some of the others because of consistency, low price, cleanliness, and easy accessibility. My wife and I always order three meals here, because we can’t decide on just two. So, we tend to leave stuff, which is a bit unusual for Thai food. My motto is — if you’re going to pig out, do it with great food.
(4) Arisra Thai Seafood and Steaks (Chinatown) — Three really good things about Arisra are — 1. It’s more upscale than usual 2. The food has a bit of a kick to it (which means flavors are more unique), and 3. It’s open as late as midnight (most evenings). Very hands-on chef, who often walks the dining room and greets customers, even seeking feedback. Also offers a varied seafood menu, including house specialties. Rather than standard fare you might expect elsewhere, each meal seems to be a little different, including the spices and seasonings. This can cut both ways, but if you like a bit of adventure with your dining experience, this is the place to go.
(3) Chada Thai and Wine (West Side) — New place, which opened on Spring Mountain. This restaurant is fabulous! Be warned that most items do come a bit on the spicy side. You can tell these menu entrees are just a cut above most other standard fares, largely enhanced by the added spices and occasional surprises. Chada even has wine dinners, which are becoming popular. I expect Chada to make its mark on the local Thai restaurant scene and perhaps even come to challenge Lotus for a must-visit to locals and tourists alike.
(2) Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen (Summerlin) — I absolutely adore this restaurant. Outstanding food. Located at the corner of Rampart and Lake Mead, it’s on the eastern fringe of Summerlin. I have food fantasies about the fried spinach salad, and special sauce, which is the house specialty. Crunchy breading over the spinach dipped in a mix of gorgonzola and cashews stands is an orgasm for the taste buds. Limited menu to some extent, when compared with most of the other choices on this list. However, each entrée seems to come with extra care, and excellence often lies in the finest details. I’ve dined here about 40 times and had the spinach salad — you guessed it — 40 times.
(1) Lotus of Siam (North Strip / East Side) — No surprise, this place has been a local institution for years. Lotus of Siam is unequaled in terms of overall variety and quality. Two categories where this restaurant standouts as superior — 1. the wine selection is both extraordinary and affordable (less markup than usual). Great selection of white wines, which tend to pair better with Thai food. 2. Then, there’s the 12-page menu which takes half-an-hour to read. There are that many great choices, all tempting. The bar waiting area tends to get very busy, as lengthy waits here are not at all uncommon. That’s the one negative of Lotus of Siam which is the wait, certain to be an issue in prime time on most evenings. Before they open at 5 pm for dinner, there’s often a line formed at the door. But the best things are usually worth waiting for. The best thing for last — Lotus of Siam offers a separate “Northern Thai” menu, which includes items that are spiced quite differently. So, not only are the standard Thai dishes available, there are dozens of other options, from a cuisine that’s simply not known to many people, outside of hard-core Thai-food aficionados. I would go so far as to say this stands at the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever enjoyed (which is many times). Once again, the popularity of this place often means waiting for a table and sometimes even spotty service. But everything on your table will taste great.
Know of any great Thai restaurants in Las Vegas that I missed? If so, please share it.
What’s your favorite?