Five MUSTS as a Thai Food Lover in Manhattan

I’ve grown incredibly fond of Thai food in recent years, especially because being Irish, you weren’t exposed to other cuisines growing up (with the exception of Chinese food and Italian every now and then). Living in NYC with every type of food at your doorstep, my appreciation for Thai food certainly hasn’t wained. Eating out is probably my favorite hobby and I’m sure every New Yorker and I have that in common, but I want to share with you my best experiences and offer up some amazing suggestions.

There’s an option for every budget, which suits us city slickers because as we are all well aware, money comes and goes. We’ll start with ‘My left arm just went towards rent’ and go right up to ‘Just got my tax returns bitchesss’. Also, some of these may not be strictly Thai, but equally amazing Asian cuisines.

Room Service – Hells Kitchen

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This was one of the first places my friend took me when I moved to NYC back in September. I love it solely for the fact that it’s cheap without compromising quality of food. The interior is elegant with an enormous chandelier at it’s center. The food is amazing (try the dumplings!) and if you want to wine and dine, Room Service is perfect because even though you’re in midtown where pretty much everywhere has extortionate prices for alcohol, it’s very reasonable. It’s definitely an impressive place to take friends and family from out of town.

Up Thai – Upper East Side

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I’ve heard so many people rant and rave about this restaurant and I was dying to try it. Honestly, I’m probably not going to give it enough credit because when you build something up in your head for so long and expect amazing things, you’re always going to be disappointed. It was much smaller than what I expected and it’s a popular spot, so I would strongly suggest making a reservation at peak times. It’s very pretty inside, it almost has an indoor garden feel to it. They’re appetizers are sort of like Thai-style bar food so it’s perfect for sharing a few plates amongst friends if you’re one of those.

Thai Villa – Gramercy Park

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I’m writing this having just been here tonight and this restaurant is what inspired me to do a Thai Food blog because I honestly wasn’t expecting much. My friend and I are spending way too much money at the weekends and decided to try somewhere mid-priced for a midweek treat. I found this place on Yelp! and thought it would be pretty standard but when I walked in the door, I was so excited. Inside, the main dining room had me awe-struck. There was a mini fountain as you walk through the door and the decorations that drop down from the ceiling are beautiful (I know I keep going on and on and on about decor but Thai restaurants really know how to interior design!). The food was so tasty and shout out to my server who’s name I didn’t get but I made the wrong choice of wine and she was kind enough to take it back and have me taste two others before making another choice.

Tao – Chelsea

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Just being at Tao is an experience in itself, the decor is incredible. They have restaurants in both Midtown and Chelsea, but the Chelsea restaurant has much more panache AND there’s a nightclub, so it’s very fitting for a long night of cocktails and forgetting your middle name. Tao isn’t a casual place but perfect for dressing up for dinner with friends or a special someone (oh no, not me, alone forever). If you like people-watching like the freak that I am, you’ll enjoy being seated on the staircase. As for the food, they have a surprisingly big menu to suit all budgets and the portions are enormous. The Pad Thai (I know, I’m boring) is probably the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. I had to try several cocktails because they all sounded so good but the Ruby Red Dragon was dangerous, I would have stuck with that one all night. Oh by the way, there’s a bar in the bathroom, JS.

Buddakan – Chelsea

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The Buddakan and Tao are somewhat similar and right across the street from one another but each one is unique. Buddakan is a little more upscale and with upscale comes upped prices. If you enjoy grand dining, ask to be seated in the library, very swanky. It’s definitely a treat yo’self spot. Side note: The women’s bathroom has a Mirror Mirror On The Wall-like mirror that you simply must take a bathroom selfie in. As for the food, I had the ribs to start and the Roast Chicken Congee entree. They were both heaven but I was blown away by the ribs- beyond succulent, beyond tender and I’m really not a ribs person!

My favorite is always going to be Tao Downtown and anyone who’s been there (if you’re a New Yorker of course you have) would agree that it’s always a great night out! Everyone should go there at least once.

*BTW: I did steal these images because mine didn’t catch the grand-ness of each restaurant and they are quite dark inside. You don’t want to be that girl with the flash on during a nice meal!

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