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900 Waller (at Fillmore)
San Francisco, CA 94115 (415) 431-2526
Pluses: Authentic decor and cuisine; extensive menu
Minuses: Often crowded
Don't Miss: Thai iced tea, larb gai, stuffed chicken wings, noodle dishes
Overview: Open for Dinner nightly
Reservations accepted American Express, MasterCard, Visa
This San Francisco favorite recreates a little bit of Thailand on a street corner in the inner Haight. White tunics and native Thai dresses are worn by the staff and colorful china, and art and artifacts from Thailand adorn the walls. Lacy gold-trimmed place mats cover the glass tabletops. The room feels comfortable, but when the 18 tables are full, it can be noisy.
The blending of essential Thai flavors of fiery chilies, lively herbs and a combination of hot, tart, salty and sweet tastes make the food at Thep Phanom special. Try any of the curries (my favorites are the delicate yellow coconut milk curries), marinated fried quail in garlic and pepper and the soups. Don't miss the deep-fried bananas with coconut ice cream for dessert.