A curved wooden roof and exposed brick walls dotted with Thai art shroud Star of Siam just steps away from the famed Magnificent Mile. Star of Siam’s Thai morsels have earned the adoration of publications such as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, and Food Industry News, which voted it Number One Favorite Thai Restaurant ten years in a row. Diners perch at small wooden tables along the walls or crouch on floor cushions on an elevated dais in the middle of the restaurant, supping on Thai pepper steak and sipping on libations such as Phuket Thai beer.
The chili reds and basil greens of Thai cuisine create splashes of color inside the confines of Silom 12, where white-brick walls and a shadow-box-style bar evoke the atmosphere of Bangkok’s work-hard, play-hard Silom district. The Southeast Asian menu includes both Old- and New-World dishes, as well as some from the off-world colonies. Glass, egg, and rice noodles wrap around meat and vegetables, often crowned with aromatic sauces such as panang curry and black-bean gravy.
Squeezed between two taller buildings, Pho’s Hot & Spicy Cuisine would be easy to miss if not for its brightly painted red, yellow, and blue façade. Inside, the same bright shade of crimson coats one wall in the narrow eatery, the other composed of exposed brick. Although the space is modest, the cuisine is not. Even ordering pad khe mao noodles or musman beef curry at medium-level spiciness sets nose sniffling, and the heat intensity only increases from there. The BYOB restaurant serves other familar Thai staples such as tom yum soup and pad thai.
The proprietors of Cozy Noodle & Rice, which was voted Best BYOB Thai in Best of Metromix 2011, serve classic Thai fare alongside decor influenced by pop-culture icons. Nearly life-size figurines of Betty Boop, Super Mario, and Elvis greet customers, and sunny yellow walls support shelves of neatly arranged toy figurines. Below, customers chow on rice dishes, noodle dishes, and curries, often punctuated by the fresh touches of citrus leaves and lime juice that give Thai cuisine its flair.
Named by _TimeOut Chicago as a favorite authentic Thai eatery, Spoon Thai’s chefs assemble flavorful Eastern dishes inside a sleek, wood-paneled restaurant. An expansive menu plays host to more than a dozen disparate salads—some sweet, some spicy, and some bedecked in briny mussels. Noodles can occupy serial utensil twirlers as adventuresome diners dive into dishes such as kang keau loog chin pla, in which piping-hot green curry revolves around a fish-ball nucleus.
Veteran chefs prepare Stir Crazy Fresh Asian Grill's Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes on sizzling woks right in the dining room. While diners-to-be ponder the menu of more than 50 traditional and innovative Asian creations, they'll witness knives quartering veggies and flames lapping at the edges of the wok as the sights, smells, and sounds of the kitchen come alive around them. Should taste buds riot at the sight of all this mouthwatering action, diners can satisfy them with an appetizer such as the ahi tuna and avocado poke, a spicy stack of fresh fish and cool veggies ($9). The entree portion of sweet-and-sour chicken features tender pieces of crispy chicken tossed with broccoli, red and green peppers, onions, carrots, and pineapple in a sweet and tangy sauce ($13). Or manage your intake with the Crazy Features menu, which offers smaller-in-portion but towering-in-flavor classics such as mongolian beef or sesame chicken, served with a crispy veggie spring roll (all $9.88).