Thai cuisine—known for its scrumptious spices, rich curries, and distinctive noodle dishes—should never be confused with Tie cuisine, primarily distinguished by its overly formal taste and hard-to-digest Windsor knots. Adorn your appetite with today's Groupon: for $12, you get $25 worth of Thai eats and nonalcoholic drinks at Sawasdee Thai Restaurant at either location on Glenwood Avenue or Capital Boulevard.
Both spaces boast comfortably lit interiors, eclectic, funky chair collections, authentic Thai art-adorned walls, and delectable dishes ideal for sating a multitude of taste cravings. Midday munchers can alight upon savory lunch sensations such the daily lunch special ($7.99), or the som tum spicy papaya salad ($7.99). Dig into dinner delights such as the drunken noodles chicken, which tipsily enjoys itself at a house party of chili, egg, and basil leaves ($12.99), or watch as the spicy eggplant dances a garden samba with bell peppers, onions, and garlic chili sauce ($12.99). Most dishes can be crafted to suit vegetarian needs, and all meals can be happily followed by a plethora of delectable desserts and sweet drinks ideal for complementing the authentic Thai flavors and post-dinner debates about the existential meaning of coconuts. Menu items and prices may vary slightly by location.
An Independent Weekly reader's choice poll has rated Sawasdee as the best Thai restaurant in the Triangle four years running, while The News & Observer has featured Sawasdee Thai Restaurant. Citysearchers and Yelpers give the restaurant an average of 4.5 stars:
- Topped with a colorful confetti of julienne carrots, red onion, ginger and toasted peanuts in a lemongrass-flecked tamarind sauce, the [tamarind tilapia] dish is a multisensory extravaganza. – Greg Cox, The News & Observer
- If you're looking for good Thai food, you can't go wrong here. Service is attentive and friendly and the dishes are superb. – rc38, Citysearch
Sawasdee Thai Restaurant
If you're a Triangle-dwelling Thai food fan, it's likely that you know about Sawasdee Thai Restaurant—it won Indy Week's Best of the Triangle award for Best Thai Cuisine every year from 2007–2011. In 2013, it picked up another honor from the paper: Best Restaurant with Gluten-Free Options. While the Thai chefs at Sawasdee ground the menu in their homeland's culinary traditions—which means the salt comes from fish sauce, the sweetness from palm sugar, and the pucker from tamarind—they're always looking for ways to make them feel fresh and relevant to local diners. That means things such as creating a separate gluten-free menu so no one has to begin their meal simply hunting for a dish that suits their diet. And an extensive vegetarian section leaves out the fish sauce (and egg, if desired), replacing animal products with mixed greens, tofu, and other botanical elements. Naturally, the heat can be adjusted, too, on a scale that starts at "spicy" and tops out at "make-you-cry."
Sawasdee's chefs also give the ingredients themselves extra scrutiny. Even in seasons when fresh herbs are hard to find, they scour suppliers' shelves to make sure they always have authentic seasonings such as galangal and lemongrass on hand. In meat dishes, all-white-meat chicken, large shrimp, beef sirloin, and pork tenderloin bed down on Thai jasmine rice. And at both Sawasdee locations, designers have shown a similar attention to detail in the decor. On Glenwood, a huge compass rose in the ceiling softly lights the dining room's woodwork and trailing succulents and helps curry-intoxicated diners find their way out the door. The location on Capital is less sleek and more cozy, with red walls, traditional carved screens, and even a patio surrounded by dense greenery on all sides.