Charlottesville loves its Thai food. We have eight Thai restaurants to pick from and not one seems to be hurting for business. Everyone in town has a fiercely held opinion as to which is the best, so it seems the ideal pick for our first Best in Chow. We’ve tried them all, multiple times, and can easily agree on two things: Lime Leaf is by far the best, and the fact that Thai ’99 wins the Best of C-ville’s Asian category every year is a shocking travesty of justice. We have some differences of opinion for everything in between, so check out our standings for Best of Thai. We’re sure you’ll disagree, so add your own list in the comments.
|#1||Lime Leaf||Lime Leaf||Lime Leaf is king! We’ve never had a bad meal there. The dishes have great, authentic Thai flavors, and the ambience is one of the best for Thai restaurants in town. If only it wasn’t so far away. Read the full review here.|
|#2||Lemongrass||Pad Thai||Lemongrass on the corner is Erin’s best of runner-up. Their curries actually beat Lime Leaf, and the menu is more adventurous and interesting than most Thai restaurants.
Jed thinks Pad Thai‘s Kapao Fried Rice with chicken is nearly as good as Lime Leaf’s and has enjoyed most of everything he’s eaten there. It’s not a great place for eating in, but an excellent take-out option.
|#3||Downtown Thai||Lemongrass||Downtown Thai narrowly came in third for Erin. While it’s never stellar, it’s consistently good, and it’s great to have a Thai option downtown.
Lemongrass moved up on Jed’s list after our friend and ex-Lemongrass employee Cici steered us to the best dishes: Spicy Lemongrass Chicken, Mango Chicken, and Hanoi Pork.
|#4||Tara Thai||Downtown Thai||Tara Thai exceeds Erin’s expectations for a chain restaurant in Barracks to ring in at number four. The setting is sleek and the food is good, although it loses some standing for dishes being too sweet. Read the full review here.
Though he had mediocre experiences at first, Jed thinks Downtown Thai has proven more satisfying in recent years. It generally goes with dark and savory over bright and limey, but the ingredients are fresh and the flavors solid, if a bit uninspired.
|#5||Pad Thai||Tara Thai||While Pad Thai has a fanatic following, it drops all the way to Erin’s number 5. She’s hasn’t been awed by a single dish there, and the noodles are always floating in a soup of oil.
Jed says that Tara Thai’s neon gloss communicates much of what you need to know. It’s clean and eye-catching but soulless and, if anything, too sweet. Regardless, a decent alternative to the Barrack’s staples. Read the full review here.
|#6||Monsoon||Monsoon||Once upon a time, back when it was above modern day Zocalo and brimming over with unique art on the walls and chairs, Monsoon Cafe was one of the hippest restaurants in town. Now, the adequate food is blunted by the homely (read as: borderline decrepit) outdoor seating area, limited menu, and lackluster service. Only nostalgists and underdog sympathizers need apply.|
|#7||Thai ’99 II||Thai ’99 II||Here’s our response to every single person who, upon hearing that we are not fans of Thai 99, asks: “But have you tried the one out on Route 29?” Yes, we have, and it’s slightly better. Not better enough to get it out of the cellar. Read the full review here.|
|#8||Thai ’99||Thai ’99||One of the most overrated restaurants in town, we actually had one delicious meal here years ago. We chomped greedily and asked each other why we didn’t eat here more often. Oh yeah, because it has been subpar every other time. A few times the chicken was so gamey that we had to pick it out or eat around it. The people were nice, though.|