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Chefs have been cooking fiery green papaya salad and wok-kissed pad thai in Colorado for decades, but a new crop is perfecting well-known Thai specialties while also introducing Denverites to dishes that are less common in the Mile High City. Here, five of our favorite spots for going beyond drunken noodles.
Jefferson Park | Est. March 2020
The tenant of the charming Victorian house previously occupied by Sassafras American Eatery, Ros Siam specializes in palate-awakening sustenance. While some of the entrées, such as the pad prik khing—green beans wok-fried with chile paste—pack serious heat, others exude tart, sweet, and earthy notes. If you’re craving spice, ask for a hotter variation of the nam tok: charbroiled beef tossed with toasted rice powder, mint, red onions, and lime. By curating a wide-ranging menu, Thai-born owners and siblings Attawut Intongkam and Suttichai Inthongkham (their last names were translated into different English spellings) aim to educate locals about the multifaceted cuisine of their homeland.
Washington Park West | Est. August 2020
At this convivial joint, the walls are bedecked with scenes from Bangkok’s iconic Yaowarat Road, making patrons feel like they’re dining at one of the country’s famed streetside eateries. Hey Bangkok is Denver’s third restaurant from Jay Dedrick and Siriporn “Duke” Tayaputch, owners of 23-year-old Swing Thai’s two locations, and features a concise 12-item menu. Dig into the khao mun gai—tender steamed chicken accompanied by ginger-spiced rice, Thai-chile-heavy sauce, and a bowl of broth—at a table that resembles those used by Yaowarat’s food stalls.
Jefferson Park | Est. March 2021
My Thai Cafe is a delicious expansion of owner Zoe Le’s 12-year tenure of cooking at U.S. Thai Cafe in Edgewater. The restaurant she debuted on North Federal Boulevard sports a modern interior filled with reclaimed wood, a full bar, and a lineup of noodles, stir-fries, curries, and desserts. Our go-tos are the khao soi—fresh egg noodles swimming in spicy, golden-hued chicken curry—and the fried rice crowned with two snow crab claws. Save room for the coconut egg custard, an indulgence served with sweet sticky rice.
City Park West | Est. July 2020
One steaming bowl or plate of comfort at a time, Ploy Limpapath is getting Coloradans hooked on Thai street fare. The former stockbroker, who moved to Colorado from Bangkok nearly 16 years ago, opened Lucky Noodles in summer 2020 to share her family recipes. Those include renditions of rich green curry—bright with palm and coconut sugars, kaffir lime leaf, and peppery holy basil—and grilled pork kabobs marinated in a garlicky, cilantro-root-infused soy sauce. Don’t miss the iced coffee, a potent pick-me-up sweetened with condensed milk. (Note: Lucky Noodles will be closed until October due to a death in the family.)
Lincoln Park | Est. April 2021
Greg and Noi Hoefer are preparing specialties—with a plant-based twist—inspired by Noi’s upbringing in northern Thailand at their spot inside pandemic-born CloudKitchens, a collective of delivery- and takeout-only eateries (aka ghost kitchens). Order the likes of gently spicy massaman curry, which is loaded with tofu, potatoes, onions, and crunchy peanuts, or the pad woon sen, silky glass noodles laced with mushroom soy sauce and studded with cabbage, tofu, and tomatoes. The dishes are so hearty and flavorful, you won’t notice the absence of meat, eggs, or fish sauce.