With the never-ending sea of Thai food restaurants on Manhattan, how are you supposed to choose the best one? The lunch deals, the fact that there are just way too many, and maybe you don’t even know what to order – it can get ridiculously overwhelming. Luckily for you – I’ve had my fair share of Thai food on Manhattan, and while I’ve had some alright dishes, I’ve also found a couple standouts. Believe me, I know – there’s nothing worse than a sub-par pad thai, and this guide is here to make sure you never have one.
Go Go Thai – 144 West 19th Street
Of all the cheap thai in Manhattan, without a doubt, Go Go Thai is my definite favorite. It’s hard to find if you’re not actively looking for it, and for a while I thought of it as my little secret – but I’m willing to share it for the good of humanity (or at least, our stomachs). It’s cash only (last time I heard), and super tiny, but the service is so nice and friendly, and more importantly, the food is amazing. The best pad thai I’ve ever had in the whole city can be found here, and don’t you dare skip out on the perfectly cooked (and gluten-free!) pineapple chicken fried rice. Make sure you get the green papaya salad as a starter. It’s the perfect little date spot, great for a small group of friends, and it’s not bad eating there alone, too!
Room Service – 690 9th Avenue
Out of the two Room Service outposts in Manhattan, choose the Hell’s Kitchen location – the food is generally the same, but the decor and ambience are far and beyond better here. You won’t believe that such cheap food is made in such a swanky looking restaurant – but it is! With the low lights and super classy decor consisting of a million mirrors, and an enormous chandelier sitting in the middle of the room, you actually won’t even believe it’s a Thai restaurant at first. The lunch deals are great (one of those choose an appetizer and entree kind of combinations) and here, the standout meal is the spicy basil noodles.
Republic – 35 Union Square West
It’s loud, it’s crazy, the tables are communal, and there’s guaranteed to be a long line for dinner, especially at the Union Square location, the only one I’ve frequented. You’ll like it if loud and bustling is your thing, but I’m more of a “I-want-to-hear-what-my-dining-mates-are-saying” kind of girl. A couple things make this worth it – the seared marinated (my go-to dish there), the crispy tofu appetizer (my pre-no-gluten go-to dish), and the deals – drink specials are pretty decent, and if you’re a student, you get 15% off your meal.
Qi – 31 West 14th Street
I guess this place is more “Asian fusion” than just Thai… but I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what that term really means. Anyway, this is another one of those places like Room Service where it’s all fancy inside (complete with a zillion abacuses – abaci? and wooden boats suspended in the air) but it’s pretty cheap for a good meal. I’ve mostly ordered pad thai which is decent here, but they also serve doses, which are in no way Thai, but are amazingly delicious and filling. There’s a couple locations – the 14th Street one is the way to go.