Anyone who knows me knows that I love Thai food. I could eat it for literally every meal, and I’m pretty confident in my ability to tell good Thai from bad. (BTW, I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, the best Thai curry in Seattle is my boy Thai Tom. AH-mazing.)
It’s a liiittle tough here in Texas. I’m obsessed with the atmosphere and deliciousness of Sway, but it’s more of a special treat than “I’m hungover/lazy and craving some spicy noodles” pitstop. I’ve tried the well-known cheap Thai haunts in our area – Madam Mam’s, Thai Kitchen, etc. but honestly it’s all been a little subpar. My #1 pick for Thai takeout in our area is the obviously named Pad Thai on Guadalupe. It’s in a fast food-ish strip mall, but it’s cheap, ultra fast, and they have the best quick-fix curries and noodles I’ve found in the campus/Hyde Park area.
So let’s talk about Titaya’s on North Lamar. Back in the day Titaya’s was always crazy crowded, so Rob and I never ate in, only got takeout a couple times before they closed for an extensive renovation in December 2012. The few times I had Titaya’s, I wasn’t wild about it. Sorry to be a hater, I guess I have high (Thai?) standards.
Titaya’s finally reopened their doors in February 2014. As eager as I was to check it out in and see how/if they had changed, I also hate waiting in lines. Especially outside, in winter. So we put it off until I kind of forgot about it.
Last week, my good friends Stephanie and Chris were visiting from Wenatchee, WA with their adorbs new baby, Rex. I took them to La Condesa for a stylish Mexican lunch, so Steph and I were looking for a more lowkey dinner somewhere in my neighborhood. Thai was a staple for us when we both used to live in Seattle and sounded perfect for a throwback hangout that night. I figured we could go to Titaya’s and hope for the best!
First thing: there was only a 10 minute wait for 4 people. Nothing like the horror stories of 2+ hour waits I’d heard when Titaya’s first reopened back in February. Things were off to a good start. I have to say that I’m pretty blown away by their redesign too! It’s much more stylish, colorful, and… Pinterest-y.
There’s Rob, just marveling at the splendor of its lightbulb and hanging picture frame ceiling. So pretty.
What really matters, though, is the food. We started with a firepot of our (and everyone’s) favorite Thai soup, Tom Kha (coconut milk, galanga, chili, lime, lemongrass, cilantro, mushrooms, and meat of choice – we always get chicken). I’ve seen lots of Thai places call their large size soups “firepots” but I’d never seen a LITERAL FIREPOT of Tom Kha before. Titaya’s really opened my eyes to the possibilities of open flame at a restaurant table.
We also started with some fresh rolls, they were out of shrimp so we went with the tofu version, which were nice but nothing revelatory. I will say the peanut sauce they came with was extra good.
So even though it’s basically the most obvious choice ever, for one of our mains we did order… the pad thai. It’s about as unadventurous as you can get, but I don’t even care. It’s just so good. Peanuts, egg, tamarind, bean sprouts, lime… it’s an unbeatable combination.
Titaya’s version of pad thai was definitely above average for Austin! And way better than I remember it being back in the takeout days of 2012. It seemed extra fresh and they definitely didn’t skimp on the fried tofu (another one of the best parts.)
It’s hard to pick a favorite Thai curry, I vacillate between red, yellow, panang, and massamun. Panang is probably my #1 but that night we went with massamun curry, thick with coconut milk and sweetly spicy.
A big bowl of brown curry isn’t the most exciting thing to look at, but it was extremely good. Especially with their chewy brown rice! (Pro tip: always order brown rice instead of white when you can. So much better.)
Stephers also got pad see eiw but her hands were pretty full with squirmy Rexy so I didn’t want to disrupt further with a photo shoot. She said it was really good, though, so I’ll take her word for it! Rob had some panang beef fettuccine (which was on the menu of now-closed restaurant Spin – Chef Ek Timrerk is Titaya’s brother and is now helping her out here) and was totally enamored of it.
Then we got the check and for 4 people it was like $57 which we found to be way cheaper than we all thought! I guess Thai food is relatively cheap (or maybe I’m just used to Sway, haha) but I considered it to be a good deal, especially for a buzzy restaurant (re)opening in Austin. Is it as good as the best places I used to frequent in Seattle? I’d say it’s on par! I would definitely go back for curry and noodles next time I have a craving (which is pretty much all the time). I’m not giving up on my little strip mall Pad Thai joint, but it’s nice to know I have some other non-disappointing options!
And of course the very best part of the dinner: hanging out with some of my favorite people. I’m so happy and proud of Steph and Chris and their new little man. You guys need to get down to Austin more often!