The northern suburbs of Chicago are blessed with a multitude of Thai restaurants. Locally owned and operated, each location offers its own unique flavors and atmosphere. The following are the three best local Thai restaurants that are not a chain.
#3- Thai Thai Restaurant, located at 475 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield, IL is a pleasant restaurant with friendly service and a substantial menu. Located in a strip mall, parking is never an issue. Their pad thai is loaded with meat and green onions, and they are happy to make it as spicy or mild as you like. My personal favorite is the Thai Thai Platter, which features four separate appetizers. With four each of spring rolls, thai thai rolls, chicken satay with toast, and golden crab rangoon, this appetizer is sufficient as an entrée for the undecided. More unique dishes include the clay pot mussels, salmon in panang sauce, and red snapper deluxe. The average couple can dine for about $30. This restaurant offers delivery to the Deerfield and Northbrook area, and orders can be placed on its website: thaithaideerfield.com.
#2- Lovely Thai, located at 1144 E. Washington St., Grayslake, IL is an elegant fine dining Thai restaurant. Linen draped tables and ornate wall decorations provide a luxurious atmosphere. When diners enter, they are greeted by a nearly life-sized statue of a Thai woman. Situated in the strip mall across from the College of Lake County, this location has ample parking, and attracts locals with its lunch special. Diners select an appetizer, a soup, and an entrée featuring chicken, beef, tofu, or vegetables, for $7.95. For a small additional fee, one can select a seafood mix that includes shrimp, mussels, and squid. Personally, I enjoy the spring roll appetizer, tofu soup, and seafood pad kee mao, a robust noodles dish filled with various vegetables, tomatoes, and basil leaves. The dinner menu is more expensive, but offers a great deal more variety.
#1- Thai Noodles Cafe, located at 318 S. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, IL, offers a diverse menu, comfortable atmosphere, and friendly service. The walls are adorned with beautiful pictures and shadow boxes, birds in flight, and wood carved figures. The restaurant is on the first floor of a two-story house, with living space on the second floor. When entering from the parking lot in back, one feels as though they are entering a home. Many regular patrons are on a first-name basis with the owners, Lee and Tony, who prepare traditional family recipes. While I am partial to the curry kai (yellow curry with chicken, potatoes, and onions), they are known for their massamun nua, a rich red curry with beef and vegetables. The pad thai is spicy and flavorful, and full of fresh vegetables. Most dishes are available with choice of chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, or vegetables, though they also offer dishes with pork and duck. Some non-Thai dishes are available, including miso soup and Japanese udon noodles. The portion sizes are beyond generous, and the average couple can dine for around $25. Should one happen to have room for it, desserts include sticky rice with banana filling or with mango, xango (a fried cheesecake treat), and green tea ice cream. Parking is limited, but there is an additional lot to the south of the main lot. Be sure to notice the packaged food available for sale at the counter. Check them out on their website: thainoodlescafe.com.