Must-Try Thai Dishes in Charlotte
Thai food has become a popular dining option in the Charlotte area, with establishments serving customers the bold flavors of this Asian cuisine.
by Jamie Killian
There are four distinct styles of Thai food – North, Northeastern, Central and Southern. Most people know of pad thai, but Thai food also includes curries, soups and show-stopping plates of fish. Deeply rooted in family and tradition, expect to find a community vibe at local restaurants where the owners get to know you, dishes vary slightly based on regional heritage and food is made with a lot of love.
Since opening in 2009, this Asian bistro has gained a following through word of mouth in the Plaza Midwood area. Akahana serves a variety of Thai dishes, including pho, curry and flat rice noodles. In addition, the restaurant also offers a full sushi menu, making this a great location for a variety of diners.
Try: Bahn Thai Fried Rice
Traditional Thai food, alongside sushi, make this a great lunch or dinner spot. Bahn Thai’s dishes are artfully plated and portions are big enough to share, which makes it perfect for groups who want to try a variety of dishes, such as the restaurant’s signature fried rice.
Brothers Henry and Chai Eang have built a successful dining experience around traditional Thai food and a dynamic kitchen experience. Some fan favorites are the Basil Duck, which is a boneless deep-fried half duck topped with vegetables, and the mildly spicy Prik King curry.
Chef Masanori Shiraishi brings his flair to Thai food served in modern spaces alongside handcrafted cocktails. Get a taste of southeast Asian cuisine with dishes like Banh Mi sandwiches, a variety of pho and wok noodle options, as well as fusion sake.
Deejai specializes in Thai street food and sushi, including dishes like spicy basil fried rice and noodle soups in rich broth. Transport your tastebuds to northern Thailand with the Khao Soi, a dish made with yellow curry broth, yellow noodles and chicken.
Neighborhood: South End
Try: Pad Thai
Situated in the heart of South End, Hawkers is a trendy eatery serving modern Thai food and fun, innovative cocktails. Hawkers features a variety of Asian street food but is most popular for its pad thai which includes shrimp, chicken and roasted peanuts.
Try: Red Curry
Moon Thai & Japanese Restaurant dishes out traditional Thai food in a sleek, modern setting that’s perfect for a night out. The restaurant has two separate menus, allowing diners to choose between Thai and Japanese food. Order Thai curry by the color or dig into a whole fried snapper topped with homemade chili sauce.
With a full menu of Thai street food, such as basil chicken and pad thai, Rai Lay serves authentic Thai food that will have you thinking you’re in Bangkok. In addition to Thai fare, Rai Lay’s menu features other traditional Asian dishes and sushi, all crafted from fresh ingredients.
Try: Poh Taek
Chef Peter Sripan called on his childhood memories to develop a menu that reflects classic Thai street food. Rice and Spice’s signature dish is Khao Soi, a curry noodle dish. The Poh Taek is a family-sized seafood hot pot that features shrimp, snapper, scallops, calamari and mussels.
Neighborhood: South Charlotte
Try: Siam Bird Nest
Siam Garden has an extensive menu filled with traditional Thai dishes like Pad Si Ewe and other noodle entrees, as well as classic curries served with rice and meat. Try the Siam Bird Nest, an appetizer with shrimp, chicken and black soy sauce.
Try: Crispy Snapper
Named one of Charlotte Magazine’s “Best of the Best” in 2015, Thai 1st has a full menu of traditional Thai favorites, including Tom Yum Kung which is a sweet and sour soup with shrimp, duck and plum sauce. The Crispy Snapper is another crowd pleaser, topped a choice of basil sweet and sour sauce or ginger sauce.
At Thai House, expect a friendly and authentic atmosphere with Thai music and art. For over 30 years, Thai House has been making food with the freshest ingredients and creating bright, unique flavors you won't want to miss. For Thai comfort food, Pad Woon Sen is a signature dish with stir-fried soft silver noodles.
Neighborhood: University City
The specialty at Viet-Thai is pho, with seven options to choose from, but the restaurant also has plenty of Thai dishes to order. Take your pick of green, yellow or red curry, then bring down the heat with a Thai tea or coffee. Olieng is a traditional Thai iced coffee brewed with a mixture of grains and seeds.
Try: Shanghai Soup Dumplings
Noodles, stir fry, curry and bubble tea make YaMe an ideal place to satisfy your Thai cravings. The chef has over 30 years of culinary experience which is evident in YaMe’s extensive and exciting menu. Start your meal with an order of Shanghai Soup Dumplings, filled with pork and scallions.
Article originally written by Jamie Killian. Updates by Arielle Patterson in April 2023.