When I first relocated from New York to Fort Worth in 2000, the most frustrating thing was the lack of Thai restaurants in the city.
If I found myself hankering for a pad kee mow or a spicy red curry, I usually ended up driving out to Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine, tucked in a shopping plaza just behind Northeast Mall in Hurst. But if I wanted to remain in Fort Worth for the evening and enjoy Thai, well, we would usually end up eating pizza.
Lucky news for those of us who love the cuisine: A mini-renaissance of Thai restaurants is afoot in Fort Worth, capped off by the arrival of Spice, a Thai restaurant at the eastern end of Magnolia Avenue, which opened its doors earlier this month. (It’s so new it doesn’t have a Web site yet.)
Among the Thai offerings that have emerged in the last few years:
Thai Tina's: Located in the Embassy Suites in downtown Fort Worth, Thai Tina seemed to start the local Thai wave, when it first opened in its previous location on North Henderson in 2008. The menu offers the perfect balance of Thai restaurant standards and subtle house specialties. I’m particularly a fan of the Spicy Basil Duck, a roasted half-duck served with a beautiful “spicy white wine gapow chili sauce.”
Thailicious, Thai Select, Thai Rice ‘N’ Noodle: These three restaurants are all owned by the Thanpaisarnsamut siblings, and all offer similar dishes. Thai Select, located in Overton Park Plaza on Hulen St., is my preferred spot for take-out. But if it’s an affordable sit-down lunch I’m after, I’ll usually head to Thailicious, located in Central Market shopping plaza at Hulen and Interstate 30.
TIE Thai Restaurant: Opened in summer 2011, TIE has become a favorite for downtown workers, especially for its $8.95 lunch specials. My go-to order is the Thai Basil Fried Rice, an exceptional rendition of a classic.
As for Spice, it too is run by the same folks behind Thailicious and Thai Select, though it has a slightly more upmarket feel, as befitting its trendy Magnolia Avenue surroundings. When we visited recently, during on its second week open, the restaurant was still waiting on its liquor license – so for now it’s BYOB.
But it certainly seems to be off to a promising start. Of the appetizers we tried, we enjoyed the steamed edamame and the pot stickers, which are stuffed with minced pork, cabbage and onion, and fried to lightly crispy perfection. The entrees include such intriguing offerings as Bangkok BBQ Pork (marinated and grilled pork in a special house sauce) and the pad ped (which the menu says is “at least number 3 spicy and can be made “super spicy.”) Our favorite dish at the table, though, was actually the classic pad Thai, which struck a fine balance between savory, salty and lightly sweet.
If you know of any other Thai gems in Fort Worth that we forget to mention, make note of them in the comments section. And take heart that for good Thai, you no longer have to travel far afield.
Photo: Spice was ranked one of the 10 New Fort Worth RestaurantsYou Need to Visit Right Now by SideDish.