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When we set out to create the list of Melbourne's best Thai restaurants, we were determined to find the best pad thai in the entire city, even if it cost us our BMIs. Seventeen-or-so yellow curries later we present to you this list of coma-inducing hotspots. Each one has been wok-fried, topped with crushed peanuts and served with a smile.
Here are some of Melbourne’s best Thai restaurants.
If you ever find yourself searching for an authentic Thai feed in Melbourne’s south-east, hit up Paradise Road. You’ll find them located just off of Glen Waverley’s bustling Kingsway strip. One of their most popular dishes is their pineapple fried rice, which is served with egg, cashew nuts, vegetables and best of all, is plated up in a pineapple boat. And yep, it’s as enjoyable to eat as it is to look at. You can choose to add prawns, chicken or keep it vegetarian.
The Wanderer Thai Bar And Kitchen
Equally low-key and equally flamboyant, The Wanderer Thai Bar and Kitchen hides in plain sight on Lonsdale Street. And whether you’re looking for crispy prawn spring rolls at 1 am on a Saturday night or a weekday lunch special, wander over and they’ll sort you out. Their authentic and seasonal menu is fresh produce-based and even has Thai-inspired cocktails and desserts to match. Bookings are highly recommended.
The Toff In Town
The Thai offering at Cookie is certainly extensive. And just a few staircases closer to ground level, AKA The Toff in Town, you’ll find a few more Thai-inspired options from the Toff Kitchen menu. Think fun foods like jaffles filled with chicken rendang, pizza roti with curried lamb, rice pancakes, burgers and tuck shop-style dishes. All you have to do is perch yourself in one of their cosy, carriage style seating arrangements and you’re good to go.
Sitting pretty on Bridge Road is modern Thai oasis, Ladyboy. This Melbourne hotspot specialises in a bunch of cheeky cocktails that go down swimmingly with a mouthful of roti bread. Broken down into smaller munchables, bigger share plates and the sweet stuff, there’s a little something for everyone. We recommend the ‘authentic old-school pad thai’ and the crispy-fried Gai Tod chicken, plus the signature dessert ice-cream sliders served on warm brioche (hullo heart attack, here I come).
Folks flock from near and far to wrap their lips around the goods on Chin Chin’s menu, and who can blame them? It’s only (quite possibly) the best modern Thai in the entire city. After a recent facelift, the place is looking just as good as the food (and the food’s bloody good). Dishes worth phoning home about include the old and gold pad thai, the rendang wagyu beef curry and the corn and coriander fritters. There’s also a host of other delicious Asian dishes, so don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself to just delicious Thai. (Or if you can’t decide what you want, just go for the $70 'feed me' option).
Dodee Paidang first made their presence known up in Sydney, but they've now set up shop on Little Collins St (and Melbourne's pretty happy about it). The focus is on street food, showcasing bold and inventive flavours from around Thailand. There are countless noodle soups to choose from, including variations on the classic tom yum, or you can try some of the Moo Ping pork skewers you see customers scoffing down around you. Check out their range of Thai breakfasts too.
Time for a trip to the 'burbs with this one. Over in sleepy Mount Waverley you'll find Mango Tree Thai, offering up simple and delicious Thai without any of that inner-city glam. As you'd expect, the Pad Thai is a winner, but don't skip the Pad Makeua for something a little different from your usual order: wok-fried eggplant with minced chicken or pork, chilli and Thai basil to round it all out. The whole fried barramundi with sweet, spicy sauce is a winner too.
Rice Paper Scissors
Right in the heart of Fitzroy, on Brunswick Street, is this melting pot of Thai and Vietnamese fusion. It boasts a fab selection of small and large serves of street food that’ll curb your Thai craving no worries. Infused with modern methods, Rice Paper Scissors is the perfect lunch or dinner destination, thanks to its share-friendly menu (and not to mention its famous crispy pork).
Jinda Thai Restaurant
Perched on Ferguson Street in Abbotsford, Jinda Thai has been famous for its incredible service, venue and cuisine since it opened its doors in 2013. Everything is fresh and flavoursome, plus the serving sizes are generous and everything’s affordable (for a refreshing Melbourne change). Best dishes include soft-shell crab on a green papaya salad, traditional pad thai, and authentic hawker boat noodles.
We're all familiar with Rooftop Bar on a Friday evening in Summer, but head just downstairs and you'll find some of the best Thai food in Melbourne at Cookie. Amongst a whole bunch of funky cocktails (try the French Flip) you can polish off some steamed fish dumplings with pickled cucumber, a zesty salmon, avocado & pomelo salad served with lemongrass and ginger, and of course a bloody good pad thai.
Located in quiet Kensington, this cosy little cafe is the West’s go-to Thai institution. Highlights on their menu include the cashew chicken and the green curry, although it’s rude not to scoff one or six of their famous curry puffs. The entire menu is available online for pickup and delivery, but Pimm Thai is one of the coziest and most romantic spots around, with cushion-filled booths against both walls. Bets to do this one in person.
Fun fact, when Revolver isn’t Revolver, it’s actually Colonel Tan’s—one of Melbourne’s best Thai restaurants. Open from 5 pm Tuesday through to Saturday (and 12 pm on Fridays), this dance space is home to an eclectic collection of mismatched furniture and kitsch tables, plus it rocks an extensive and affordable Thai menu. Don’t leave the venue without trying the yellow sweet potato curry, the popcorn chicken and the sweet potato and cashew dumplings.
Son In Law
Son In Law offers seasonal dishes in addition to their permanent menu (usually, the specials are only available for a few months). Expect the most creative, Insta-worthy culinary feats (because folks, these plates practically style themselves). Also, if you’ve never had Son In Law Eggs before, well...you’re missing out. The delicious deep-fried eggs are served with sweet tamarind, chilli, and fried shallots. After your meal, we recommend getting stuck into Son In Law’s Cartoon Bao Buns, which truly need to be seen to be believed. Best part? You can save some extra cash at Son In Law with an Urban Feast card.
Magic Mountain Saloon
Just like Cookie, you'll find a classic combo of inventive cocktails and punchy Thai flavours when you step into Magic Mountain Saloon (I mean, they do have the same owner after all). Anything you order is going to be damn delicious but do yourself a favour and order the "Magic Mountain BBQ Chicken", served with hot tamarind sauce and fried shallots. Then some snapper and green papaya, yellow curry and acacia pancake. And of course, you don't wanna miss the pumpkin and coconut creme brulee.
Okay, chances are you've heard of this one. Tom Phat has a big reputation in Melbourne for their punchy flavours and vibrant dishes—and rightly so. You could pretty much close your eyes and hope for the best when it comes to the menu (it's all good), but our tip is the duck leg braised in lemongrass, galangal, chilli and coconut, and then chargrilled and served with tomato and eggplant sambal. Or go vegan and grab the nasi mesantan— red coconut rice with tofu and tempeh fritters and eggplant chilli sambal. Yeah, uh, wear loose pants for this one cos you're gonna wanna try one of everything.
We couldn't leave out David Thompson's Southbank Thai bunker, could we? That guy is low-key terrifying, but damn he knows his way around a pad thai (we love you, David). The pad thai at Long Chim is the proper stuff: heavy on the fish sauce, and a totally different texture than the noodles from your local takeaway. Don't miss the signature banana roti either—still one of the simplest (and most delicious) desserts in Melbourne.
Image credit: Griffin Simm