Restaurant Guide–Montana

Restaurant Guide Main Index


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Anaconda

Gallicano’s Pizzeria–118 E. Park Ave. (Pizza) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say the pizza here is the best food in Anaconda, and rates high compared to all other pizza. (3-21-17)

Bigfork

Pocketstone Cafe–444 Electric Ave. (American) Open daily 6 am to 3 pm.  The best reviews are for breakfast–serves Northwest style fresh food (strawberry pancakes, several types of egg scrambles, etc.). Breakfast tacos are also available. (7-5-19)

Big Sky

Lotus Pad–3090 Pine Dr. (Thai).  Flavors are pretty close to traditional Thai but the spice level is not (order it spicy if you are used to medium spice levels at other restaurants). Reviewers like the curries, but the pad thai is not very popular. Some recommend getting the daily special, whatever it is. (3-17-17)

Billings

A Taste of Asia–111 S. 24th Ave. W. (Lao & Vietnamese) Open Mon-Sat 11 am to 8 pm.  Lao food seems to be what they do that is the most authentic, but Vietnamese (particularly pho) is what is most popular with customers. (5-18-19)

Harper & Madison–3115 10th Ave. N. (New American) Open Tue-Sat (breakfast & lunch only).  Popular place for breakfast–somewhat upscale, quiche is one of the recommended dishes. (5-18-19)

Imperial Thai–216 N. 28th St. (Thai) Closed Sun.  Reviews seem to be uniformly positive, saying this is the best Asian food in Billings. Curries are recommended. Some dishes have kaffir lime. Owners also have Asia Garden in Sidney, MT. (5-18-19)

J P Kitchen–805 24th St. W. (Chinese) Closed Sun & Mon.  Probably more authentic style Chinese food than the other restaurants in town. Menu is limited, though. (5-18-19)

Lilac–2515 Montana Ave. (New American) Dinner only (open daily).  Interesting looking dishes (not much for vegetarians, though). There are several other New American restaurants in downtown Billings, and Lilac looks like as good a place as any to start. Has somewhat upscale food, but burger is said to be good as well. (5-18-19)

Okinawa Sushi–1414 Main St. (Japanese) Open Daily.  Has udon and other dishes besides sushi. (5-18-19)

Black Eagle

Borries–1800 Smelter Ave. NE (Steakhouse) Dinner only (open daily).  This restaurant has been open literally for “generations,” and is a “local legend.” It is a steakhouse that also serves Italian food. This is an old style “supper club” restaurant, and serves old style steaks. It appears that they way it works is that you get a steak with minestrone soup, toasted ravioli, and spaghetti (you can also get chicken or fish instead of steak). (5-7-19)

Bozeman

Jam!–25 W. Main St. (American) Open daily 7 am to 3:30 pm.  Serves upscale breakfast, including fresh squeezed orange juice. (4-13-19)

Pakeezah Authentic Indian–34 N. Bozeman Ave. (Indian) Closed Sun (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Some say this is the only authentic Indian restaurant in Montana. Some like it because the food is actually spicy (but I suppose you can have it less spicy if desired). (4-13-19)

Saffron Table–1511 W. Babcock St. (Indian) Dinner only (open daily).  Reviewers say this is very good Indian food. Thali is available. (4-13-19)

Sweet Chili Asian Bistro–101 E. Main St. (Thai) Open Daily.  Reviewers say this is one of the best Thai places anywhere. Food is described as “fusion,” though, and I’m not sure how authentic it is. (4-13-19)

Whistle Pig Korean–25 N. Willson Ave. (Korean) Closed Sun & Mon.  Good reviews, and many say this is comparable to big city restaurants. Varied menu (not just Korean BBQ, etc.). (4-13-19)

Butte

Annie’s Cafe–815 E. Front St. (American).  Popular place for breakfast & lunch. Serves typical breakfast dishes, but they do them very well (according to reviewers). From the photos I would say to order the omelet. (5-24-19)

Casagranda’s Steakhouse–801 S. Utah Ave. (Steakhouse) Dinner only (open daily).  Seems to be one of the best steakhouses in Montana (but has other items also, such as chicken, etc.). (5-24-19)

Freeway Tavern–2001 S. Montana St. (American).  This is a dive bar that is famous for one thing–the pork chop sandwich (the pork chop is battered in what looks like tempura and is called the “Wop Chop”). (5-24-19)

Pekin Noodle Parlor–117 S. Main St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Old style Chinese food (get sweet and sour, ginger shrimp, tofu with veggies, house special fried rice). It’s best if you can order several items and eat them family style. Orders come with a choice of rice or noodles (reviewers say get the noodles). Each table is in an individual room. Go for the experience more than the food (rest. is 100 yrs. old–all with the same family). (5-24-19)

Columbia Falls

Laurie’s Deli–330 9th St. W. (Sandwiches) Closed Sun.  Recommended place for soups and sandwiches. Uses house made bread, and cuts the meat for your order. (2-6-19)

Tien’s Place Oriental–329 9th St. W. (Chinese).  I don’t really think this is a “recommended” Chinese restaurant–just one of the best choices in the area. Food is Americanized, but the Szechuan style dishes are probably the closest to real Chinese food. (2-6-19)

Conrad

Home Cafe–408 S. Main St. (American) Open daily (breakfast & lunch only).  People say breakfast is excellent. Omelettes are recommended (Denver, sausage, etc.). (5-7-19)

Deer Lodge

Sesame Wok–1007 Village Ln. (Thai) Open Daily.  This is a double restaurant–Chinese Garden (Chinese) and Sesame Wok (Thai). Thai is what most people like–Singapore noodles, pad thai, curry, etc. (6-25-19)

Yak Yak’s–200 Main St. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  Good reviews for both breakfast & lunch (omelet is popular for breakfast). (6-25-19)

Dillon

China Garden–130 N. Montana St. (Chinese) Closed Sun.  Most of the menu consists of Americanized dishes, but look for the more authentic ones (such as clay pot dishes). (5-24-19)

Fiesta Mexicana–510 N. Montana St. (Mexican) Open daily 9 am to 10 pm.  Dining room is in a converted bus (this probably saves on heating bills in the winter). Authentic style food–tacos, burritos, etc. (I didn’t see a single picture of anything smothered in cheese). (5-24-19)

Sparky’s Garage–420 E. Poindexter St. (American) Open Daily.  This seems to be a favorite with locals. Serves burgers, sandwiches, etc. Has special items such as fried green tomatoes. Everything is made on site (including the salad dressing). (5-24-19)

East Glacier Park

Two Medicine Grill–314 US 2 (American) Open Daily.  Good quality (not always found in tourist towns where they have very little repeat business). Recommended items include breakfast (blueberry pancakes, omelets, etc.), bison burgers, and pie. (6-25-19)

Evergreen

Pho Ly–2121 US Hwy 2 East (Vietnamese) Open 11 am to 8 pm (closed Sun).  Pho is described as top notch–serves other Vietnamese dishes as well. (2-6-19)

Gallatin Gateway

Cafe at the Inn–65840 Gallatin Rd. (American).  Good food in a beautiful setting. Mostly known for its breakfast. Some items have green chile. Update 2019: Now only available to guests at the lodge. (6-25-19)

Gardiner

Grizzly Grille–1016 Scott St. (New American) Closed Sun.  This is a food truck (you have to eat outdoors on a picnic table but it has a great view). Eclectic menu including ramen (reviewers say it is not Japanese style but it is good with a less fatty broth). (6-25-19)

Yellowstone Grill–404 Scott St. (American) Breakfast Tue-Sun; lunch Tue-Sat (I think in winter it is closed Tue).  Breakfast is popular–best items are the more upscale ones (eggs Benedict, Mediterranean omelette, blueberry pancakes, etc.). (6-25-19)

Glendive

Li’s Chinese–1615 W. Towne St. (Chinese) Open daily except Sat lunch.  Dishes listed are Americanized, but owners are from San Francisco and reviewers say the food is good. Many people have cautioned, though, that they sometimes close early and do not follow the posted hours. (3-21-17)

Great Falls

Maple Garden–5401 9th Ave. S. (Korean).  I don’t know if it has the best Asian food in Great Falls, but it has the greatest consensus of diners that the food is good. Also has Chinese food, but it specializes in Korean. (5-7-19)

Pho Vi Tai–3212 10th Ave. S. (Vietnamese). Opened in 2019, so they may still be working out some bugs. Most say the food is good, and some comment that they now have some truly authentic Asian food in Great Falls. Both pho and vermicelli dishes are recommended. (5-7-19)

Suki Cafe–1229 10th Ave. S. (Thai).  Food is Thai and sushi, but the Thai food gets better reviews. People say it has “good Thai flavors” (so I would probably get curry or a stir fried dish). (5-7-19)

Note: Also see Black Eagle and Ulm for steakhouse recommendations.

Hamilton

A Thaiger–no address listed but it is close to Backroad Cider (Thai) Lunch Tue-Fri (serves until 1 pm), dinner Tue-Sat. This is a food truck (which is apparently how small towns are now able to get ethnic and more exotic food than before). Good reviews–some say this is the best food in town. (6-25-19)

Spice of Life–163 S. 2nd St. (New American) Lunch Tue-Fri; dinner Wed-Thu. Some good dishes include French onion soup, Cajun pasta, wild salmon, chicken alfredo, halibut and steak. Reviewers say it is worth stopping here. (6-25-19)

Taste of Paris–109 N. 4th St. (French) Closed Sun evening & Mon. Bistro style French food. French onion soup, pear salad, crepes, and desserts are some of the popular items. (6-25-19)

Helena

Mediterranean Grill–42 S. Park Ave. (Middle Eastern) Open daily 11 am to 9:30 pm.  Good reviews for the food, but they frequently run out of items (probably a result of being located far from large metro areas). Has some unusual items such as Turkish desserts. (6-25-19)

Ristorante Bella Roma–22 N. Last Chance Gulch St. (Italian) Dinner only (open daily).  Its old location was offbeat–the chef only gave two choices for the entree, and it changed daily. There is now a larger but still limited menu-diners say everything is excellent, cooked from scratch, and authentic. Some recommend the four course meals (expensive but a memorable experience). (6-25-19)

Suki Cafe–15 W. 6th Ave. (Thai) Closed Sun.  This seems to be the only Asian restaurant in town with good reviews that is open for lunch. It has Thai and Japanese food (mainly sushi). Like its sister restaurant in Great Falls, the Thai food looks like a better bet. If you order the Japanese food, the salmon gets good reviews. (6-25-19)

Toi’s Thai–423 N. Last Chance Gulch St. (Thai) Lunch Thu & Fri, dinner Tue-Sat.  Green curry is recommended (but not many dishes have the same level of popularity). Overall the restaurant has quite a few supporters. Don’t order the food spicy unless you really want it that way. (6-25-19)

Hungry Horse

Carolyn’s Cafe–8930 Hwy. 2 East (American) Open 7am to 2 pm daily.  Located in a gas station, it’s especially popular for breakfast (huckleberry pancakes are a local favorite). At lunch huckleberry pie is popular. Everything is made in house. (7-5-19)

Kalispell

Brannigan’s Pub–101 E. Center St. (Irish) Open Daily.  Irish pub with food that gets good reviews. (2-6-19)

Knead Cafe–21 5th St. E. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun & Mon).  Has the usual breakfast favorites, but with a British twist (scones, corned beef hash, Welsh eggs, etc. (2-6-19)

Pho Ly (see Evergreen, MT)

Thai Palace–319 Main St. (Thai) Open 11 am to 10 pm (closed Sun).  Owners are from Thailand and return periodically (so food is authentic). Reviewers say price is an issue, though, and it’s better to go at lunch. (2-6-19)

Lewistown

China Garden Kitchen–316 W. Main St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  American style Chinese food, but reviewers say it is very good, fresh, and flavorful. (3-17-17)

Livingston

Big Sky Thai–102 Rogers Ln. (Thai) Closed Mon. It is worth taking note anytime there is a five-star Thai restaurant in Montana, and this has the reviews indicating it is one. Curries are recommended. (4-1-19)

Crust & Crumb Bakery–1106 W. Park St. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  Open for breakfast & lunch, but most people seem to go for lunch. Chicken soup and turkey bacon wrap are examples of the items served. The pie is very popular. (4-1-19)

Faye’s Cafe–415 E. Lewis St. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (open Sun-Wed only).  Upscale restaurant that is popular for breakfast. (4-1-19)

The Wok–102 N. 2nd St. (Chinese).  Reviewers say the owners do their best to offer authentic Chinese food within the limits of being in rural Montana. Good ratings for the food. (4-1-19)

Yellowstone Valley Lodge–3840 US 89 S (American) Open Daily.  This is a steak restaurant located in a lodge that reviewers say is very worthwhile. Not only are the steaks a good taste of Montana food, but they are apparently less expensive than at other restaurants. Other main dishes are served, and the same care goes into the side dishes as the entrees. Note: this is located south of the town of Livingston. Closed in winter. (4-1-19)

Lolo

Bamboo Chopstix II–11400 Hwy 93 S (Chinese) Lunch Tue-Fri; dinner Tue-Sun.  This was apparently the new location for the former Hong Kong Chef in Missoula where I ate and really enjoyed the food. Now it has a new name and different hours, but good reviews (and is said to have some authentic dishes). (7-5-19)

Lolo Creek Steakhouse–6600 Lolo Creek Rd. (Steaks) Dinner only (open daily).  This restaurant is more expensive than my normal guidelines, but seems to be worth it for a good example of Montana’s “national food” (steaks). (7-5-19)

Missoula

Bayern Brewing–1507 Montana St. (German) Open Daily.  The emphasis is definitely on the beer, but they also serve schnitzels and German cucumber salad (also potato salad). The customers seem to be very satisfied. It also seems that they have the best beer in Missoula. (2-20-19)

Five on Black–325 N. Higgins Ave. (Fast Food) Closed Sun.  This restaurant fits the “fast food” category only in that it is pre-prepared and you are served quickly. The food is fresh and good quality, and is Brazilian inspired (has some items with Brazilian flavors). Reviewers say this all works and it is very good. (2-20-19)

Masala–206 W. Main St. (Indian) Closed Sun & closed Sat lunch.  Info says it is both Indian and Nepali. Definitely seems to serve some different and unique dishes not normally found in Indian restaurants. Quality is said to be excellent most of the time (with occasional misses). Has good vegetarian options. I don’t think it has a buffet. (2-20-19)

Vietnam Noodle–2100 Stephens Ave. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun (and closed 3 to 5 pm).  Reviewers say there is a large menu selection, and this is legit Vietnamese food. Pho has mixed reviews (reviewers say Vietnam Grill at 420 N. Higgins is better for pho). (2-20-19)

Shelby

The Griddle–311 Main St. (American) Open daily 7 am to 9 pm.  Everything for breakfast is said to be good, but eggs, bacon, muffins, and omelettes are the most popular. Burgers are popular at lunch. (5-7-19)

Saint Mary

Johnson’s Cafe–21 Red Eagle Rd. (American) Open daily 8 am to 9 pm.  Fried chicken, bison steak, veggie burger, omelette, and huckleberry ice cream pie are recommended. (7-5-19)

Sidney

Asian Garden–115 E. Main St. (Thai) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Serves Chinese food (Americanized), but the thing to get here is the Thai (green curry, yellow curry, chicken coconut soup, etc). (3-21-17)

Stevensville

Marie’s Italian–4040 US 93 N. (Italian).  For some reason there are several Italian restaurants in town, but this restaurant north of town is the one that gets the most rave reviews, serving upscale food that you will likely remember for some time (I don’t know the prices here–they are likely to be fairly high but lower than comparable restaurants in major cities). (7-5-19)

Mission Bistro–225 Main St. (American) Dinner Wed-Sat; brunch Sun.  Reviewers say it has very high quality food. Menu changes all the time. Salads are not to be missed. (7-5-19)

Three Forks

Iron Horse Cafe–24 N. Main St. (American) Closed Mon.  Casual restaurant that serves steaks, but seems to specialize in sandwiches and other popular items such as Sunday night all you can eat catfish. (2-20-19)

Peking–10 N. Main St. (Chinese).  The food is described as authentic (in the flavors, etc.) and can legitimately be called the best food in town. (2-20-19)

Pompey’s Grill–5 N. Main St. (Steaks) Dinner only (closed Mon & Tue).  Expensive, but I think the food here qualifies as a “local specialty.” Steak, prime rib, bison, etc., but also has some less expensive items. (2-20-19)

Ulm

Beef N Bone–19 Ulm N. Frontage Road (Steakhouse) Dinner only (closed Sun & Mon).  Voted by readers of the Great Falls Tribune as the best steakhouse in the area (Ulm is about 10 miles SW of Great Falls). The premise of the restaurant is that the best meat is that which is close to the bone (and this is what they serve). Some of the steaks are quite large (enough for at least two people). The steaks here are less expensive than similar cuts at other restaurants, though. (5-7-19)

West Yellowstone

Cafe Madriz–311 N. Canyon St. (Spanish) Dinner only (closed Sun).  Reviewers say the food is genuinely good and a welcome change from the normal Montana restaurants (bison burgers, etc.). (2-20-19)

Euro Cafe–237 Firehole Ave. (International) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily).  This would probably be a better breakfast than at other places because you get more variety (such as crepes, scones, etc). However, some reviewers say not to expect European quality–just a good choice for a tourist town in Montana. Place is small (only has 8 to 10 tables). (2-20-19)

Red Lotus–19 Madison Ave. (Chinese) Only open May-Oct.  In addition to the Americanized menu they have a Chinese menu (with authentic food such as ma po tofu and Chinese green beans). Photos of the food honestly look like something from San Francisco (and get excellent reviews). (2-20-19)

Whitefish

Cafe Kandahar–3824 Big Mountain Rd. (Modern American) Dinner only (open daily).  World class food that I imagine is very expensive, but it’s on this list because the restaurant is very highly recommended. Food is fusion style, and everything is local and organic. You can come in jeans. Some reviewers describe it as small with limited seating. (Located at the ski area north of town). (2-6-19)

Loula’s Cafe–300 2nd St. E. (American) Breakfast & lunch daily; dinner Tue-Sat.  Probably the most popular breakfast place in town. Food looks fresh and organic (although reviewers don’t say it is organic). Chicken pot pie is one of the recommended dishes. (2-6-19)

Orient Express–6155 US 93 S. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Best Asian in the valley–goes beyond standard (Americanized) Chinese dishes. Satay beef noodle soup is popular. (2-6-19)

Willow Creek

Willow Creek Cafe–21 Main St. (American) Dinner daily; lunch Sat & Sun.  Best known for its ribs, but people rave about the steaks also. Serves good vegetarian meals as well. (7-5-19)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

Great Falls Tribune (Great Falls Steakhouses)

Trip Advisor

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Montana)

Zomato (Missoula)

 

Lido–Oklahoma City, OK

Lido Restaurant
2518 N. Military Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 521-1902
Lido Restaurant

Lido Restaurant


Lido was the original Vietnamese restaurant to become popular in Oklahoma City, opening the door for several others serving the same type of food to become successful. In the 1990’s Lido opened a second restaurant in The Village that is now Kim Wah (and has separate ownership). Lido and Kim Wah are the two places that I have used as the standard when I try noodle bowls in OKC or other cities such as Seattle.

Lido was a rather cutting edge restaurant at the time it opened, giving the Heartland a taste of Vietnamese food for the first time. Now other restaurants, such as Golden Phoenix, offer a larger Vietnamese menu. The argument is also made that other Vietnamese restaurants are more authentic than Lido. I certainly think Golden Phoenix has more of what I would call authentic Vietnamese dishes. Lido seems to be living by the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In my opinion Lido gives customers a good representation of Vietnamese food that is flavorful, authentic, and explained on the menu so that people know what they are getting.

Lido's aquarium

Lido’s aquarium

Lido also provides a pleasant dining room and good service, something that is important to many people (along with the good food), regardless of how extensive a menu it has for authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Lido loses some credibility in being called authentic by having a Chinese menu that is American style (unlike restaurants such as Golden Phoenix that has a separate menu of authentic Chinese food). I have tried the Chinese food at Lido in the past, and there is nothing wrong with having it on the menu, but I think people will probably be more satisfied with the restaurant’s Vietnamese food– that is really what they do best.

There is also a small French menu, reflecting the long time French influence in Vietnam. The French menu here is nothing compared to the food served in some of the Seattle Vietnamese restaurants, but it is a start.

Vermicelli Bowls

Chicken and lemongrass vermicelli bowl

Vermicelli bowl with chicken and lemongrass

The Vermicelli Noodle Dishes are really the specialty of the restaurant, and the dishes I think they do better than anyone else (although I think the ones at Kim Wah are very similar). The ones here and at Kim Wah (which used to be Lido’s branch restaurant) are possibly equaled by others I have tasted, but I do not think they have ever been exceeded. They have the right mixture of mint, vegetables, peanuts, noodles, and meat. My favorite vermicelli noodle bowls are the ones made with lemongrass, and these are available at Lido (although I found out they are not included on the lunch menu).

Pork and lemongrass vermicelli bowl

Vermicelli bowl with pork and lemongrass

The vermicelli bowls come with a special nuoc mam sauce that I think is a less strong version of traditional Vietnamese fish sauce. Every Vietnamese restaurant in the city (and in other cities I have been to) seems to serve the same kind of sauce, and whether it is authentic or not I think it is very enjoyable (and is the kind of sauce most people would expect).

Pork Chop

Pork chop, shredded pork, and egg quiche

Shredded pork, egg quiche, and pork chop on broken rice (#72 on menu)

The Pork Chop at Lido was quite a good dish, and this is one of the restaurant’s more authentic Vietnamese choices that is popular at other restaurants such as Golden Phoenix. The pork chop on a rice plate came with an egg quiche, cucumbers, and shredded pork as side dishes. I had a very similar dish at Golden Phoenix, and in my opinion all the side dishes at Lido were a little disappointing in comparison. However, the pork chop was one of the best I have tried, and was certainly at least as good as the one at Golden Phoenix (but I really thought it was better).

Other Items
For many years Lido was the only restaurant I could find that served canh chua, called Hot and Sour Chicken Soup on the menu (not to be confused with Chinese style hot and sour soup). This soup, which is a meal in itself, is made with lemon juice for the sour part, red chiles for the hot part, pineapple for a sweet flavor, tomatoes, celery, and bean sprouts for a delicious traditional Vietnamese soup. It also comes with catfish or shrimp, but the one with chicken is the version I tried at Lido. Although the soup at Lido was good, I cannot say it was the best version of this dish I have had.

Other Comments
Lido has a Chinese menu, with many of the lunch specials looking as if they are American style and some of the dinner menu items looking more like traditional Chinese food (I have not ordered any of these items on recent visits, though, so that I could give a description of them). The Chinese Hot and Sour Soup, though, has been quite good over the years (and a similar version is served at Kim Wah).

While most dishes I have tried at Lido have been better at other restaurants, this is not true of the vermicelli bowls. The pork chop also gave me reason to want to return, and I think Lido will always be on my list of notable Vietnamese restaurants.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Mar. 17, 2016
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Item: Vermicelli with Chicken and Lemongrass, Vermicelli with Pork and Lemongrass, Pork Chop, Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (bags)
MSG: Yes
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Lemongrass Chicken Vermicelli Bowl
star 5 Lemongrass Pork Vermicelli Bowl
star 5 Pork Chop
star 5 Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
star 3 Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup

Tana Thai–The Village, OK

Tana Thai Bistro
10700 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 749-5590
Tana Thai

Tana Thai


Tana Thai Bistro is located in the same strip commercial center on North May Avenue as Papa Dio’s Italian Restaurant, and like Papa Dio’s, has a rather unassuming exterior. As is the case with Papa Dio’s, though, the outside gives little clue to the treats that await inside.

Tana Thai is small, with about a dozen tables, and is a family run operation. It is a little more upscale than most small Thai restaurants, operating under the “Bistro” concept with a very limited menu selection. The dining area is fully carpeted, and chairs are very plush (but the booths have wooden seats). It is also interesting that the entrance is through a double door to help keep out the wind, cold, and other harsh weather that is commonly experienced in this part of the country.

The menu includes a few noodle dishes, some soups, salads, and three types of curry. Drinks include Thai tea, but I was not very happy with the hot tea that was brewed with a single bag, but priced as if it were loose leaf tea.

Basil Stir Fried

Basil stir fried

Basil stir fried with tofu

The Basil Stir Fried was one of the first dishes I tried at Tana Thai, and was something that kept bringing me back to try other things. This dish had all the strong Thai flavors I would expect from a good Thai restaurant. The menu says anything can be prepared without meat, and I ordered this dish with tofu (that was prepared very nicely). I loved the basil flavor, and thought the vegetable selection was good. Steamed rice was complimentary, but at the prices that are charged, it should be.

Basil stir fried with shrimp

Basil stir fried with shrimp

The Basil Stir Fried with Shrimp was even better than the tofu. The shrimp was quite fresh and large, making this the only type of shrimp that really excites me. Normally I am not really a shrimp lover, but I thought this was one of the best dishes at Tana Thai.

Basil stir fried with chicken

Basil stir fried with chicken

The Basil Stir Fried with Chicken was another good choice, although I thought it was better either to get the shrimp or to order the pad kee mao which also had a good basil flavor but was more filling because of the noodles.

Curries
The Panang Curry was another of the early dishes I tried, but I thought it lacked a little spice and flavor for my taste. However, I thought the tofu that came in the non-meat version and the green beans were quite good, and overall this was a pretty good dish.

Green curry

Green curry

For a long time I was thinking I could get better curry elsewhere, but when a waitress suggested that I try the Green Curry this turned out to be a very good tip. In fact, the green curry at Tana Thai had a flavor that brought it at least to west coast standards, and I suspect to Thailand standards as well. I ordered mine a little less than medium spicy, and this probably made me appreciate the fact even more that the flavors stand on their own with or without the element of hot chiles. I do not know if it had more coconut milk than most green curries or just better coconut milk, but I would call the flavor very smooth and enjoyable.

Tom Yum

Tom yum

Tom yum

Tom Yum with Shrimp was a spicy soup that seemed simple, but the mix of flavors indicated that there was more to it than met the eye. The Thai word yahm means something “mixed together,” and that is exactly what this dish entails. One of the items mixed in is red chile powder, which at the two-star level made it about as spicy as I have ever experienced with this dish. The three-star version would be entirely too hot for me. I’m sure the flavor would be just as good, though, provided a person could eat it.

Ginger Stir Fried

Ginger brown sauce with shrimp

Ginger brown sauce with shrimp

Shrimp dishes are priced so that they offer some of the best values on the menu, so in recognition of this fact I ordered one of the stir fry choices: Ginger Brown Sauce with Shrimp, sauteed with ginger, onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms. This type of dish is usually known as pad khing, and when done well is usually one of my favorites. The shrimp at Tana Thai made this better than the chicken and other versions I have had at several other places. I usually order it with tofu at other restaurants, and Tana Thai will cook it with tofu if requested, but as I stated earlier the shrimp at this restaurant is of such good quality I think it is worthwhile. The brown sauce had a good ginger flavor, but I thought it was so sweet it reminded me of some of the less well respected Seattle Thai restaurants that seem to cater to American tastes rather than Thai. I have done a little bit of research on the subject, and it is certainly permissible for Thai chefs to add sugar to many dishes, especially since this helps balance the spicy chiles that are used. I thought this dish went overboard, though, and was too sweet for my taste.

Pad Thai

Pad thai

Pad thai from the lunch menu

The Pad Thai was flavored with tamarind sauce, had the right amount of sweetness, and had noodles with the right consistency. In other words, it ranks high among the ones I have tried in Oklahoma City. I think there are more exotic dishes at the restaurant, but the pad thai is a solid dish that is filling, is easy to make more or less spicy by adding your own chiles, and which is made surprisingly good by adding your own lime and peanuts.

One bit of trivia that I learned is that the pad thai and fried rice are the only two dishes at Tana Thai that are not cooked with garlic, so these make good lunches if you are worried about social situations when you go back to the office.

Pad Kee Mao

Pad kee mao

Pad kee mao

Pad Kee Mao is one of the noodle dishes available, and I was quite pleased with this one. The basil gave it a great flavor, and the tofu I ordered with it was crispy and very good. Noodle dishes come with beef, shrimp, or chicken, but the chicken and tofu are the least expensive choices. One thing I liked about this dish was that the spice level was just about right (I think I ordered it as one and a half stars), but I also asked for fish sauce with chiles on the side to make it spicier (this also made it more flavorful).

Fried Rice

Pineapple fried rice

Pineapple fried rice

The Pineapple Fried Rice was also very flavorful, in fact much more so than at the majority of OKC’s Thai restaurants. I ate a few bites of the one shown in the photo, but it was good enough that I would not hesitate to order it as a dinner. The default version comes with shrimp, and this is probably what I would order since the chicken included in the one pictured was rather bland.

Drinks
The Thai Tea (served with ice) is good, and helps a lot if you get something on the spicy side.

Lunch Menu
The lunch menu is particularly good for giving you a good meal at a good price. During the summer of 2016 I made a comparison of several Thai restaurants in OKC, and found Tana Thai to be the best “bang for the buck.”

Recommendations
Overall I would say that the green curry is really the standout dish at Tana Thai, since this was one of the best I have had anywhere. The basil stir fried dishes would be next on my list, since I have found them to be very flavorful.

Some dishes that are excellent (but not better than at other restaurants) include the following: pad kee mao, pineapple fried rice, tom yum, and Thai tea.

Ginger stir fried items have been disappointing to me, and are too sweet here. I would probably also put the panang curry in this category.

Ordering food at the right spiciness level has been a real challenge, but most of these issues were when I first started going to the restaurant and I did not know how to order. For me about one and a half stars out of three is about right, and I can add more spiciness with a spicy nam pla fish sauce. I usually like to ask Thai chefs to prepare the food with the spiciness they think is best, but at Tana Thai I think this would make it a little too hot for my taste.

The cashier's desk

A Thai New Year’s mural adorns the cashier’s desk

It is hard not to like Thai food, and it is hard not to feel at home in this small family-run business. I think it is a big plus that all food at Tana Thai is cooked by the owners, so the food quality and style can be assured.


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Thai
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Jan. 4, 2017
Number of Visits: 10+
Best Items: Green Curry, Basil Stir-Fry with Shrimp, Pad Kee Mao, Pad Thai

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Green (bags)/ Thai Tea
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Basil Stir Fried (with shrimp, chicken, or tofu)
star 4 Ginger Stir Fried (with shrimp or tofu)
star 5 Green Curry
star 4 Panang Curry
star 5 Pad Thai
star 5 Pad Kee Mao
star 5 Tom Yum
star 5 Pineapple Fried Rice
star 5 Thai Tea

Menu (Jul. 2016):