Thai Cafe - Dinner Under $20 in Durham

Posted May 24, 2007 11:49 a.m. EDT
Updated December 10, 2007 4:36 p.m. EST

The owners of the Thai Café must have some mighty strong mojo to overcome the curse of a doomed location. Two restaurants had already failed in quick succession at 2501 University Drive before brother and sister team of Oddy Tacha and Kanchana Techarukphong opened their café early this year.

By the enthusiastic response of the neighborhood, it looks like the curse is gone. The place is packed with food lovers, delighted with authentic Thai dishes offered at reasonable prices.

Strictly speaking, the Thai Café isn’t a budget restaurant, but you get a lot of bang for the buck, even though the service is spotty. For a truly sumptuous meal for under twenty, go for lunch when you’ll be able to go wild with crispy fried tofu or basil rolls, eggplant noodle bowl with fresh salmon in a red curry sauce, and a slice of ethereal coconut cake. Portions are big enough to split. If not, you won’t have to eat again until breakfast.

At dinner, that twenty will buy you a large, delicious bowl of traditional Pad Thai or Pad Won Sen (mung noodles sautéed with egg, cabbage, and beef or shrimp in a red chili sauce.) Include a glass of wine from the bar’s list, or sacrifice the wine for another slice of that outrageous cake.

But go early—lines form for both take-out and tables by mid-evening--and you need to get your order in before the coconut cake runs out.