Leading up to our annual Best of Dallas® issue, we're counting down the 50 most interesting restaurants in Dallas. These spots bring something unique or compelling to the city's dining scene, feeding both your appetite and soul. Find more interesting places on our all-new Best Of app for iTunes or Android.
Most Thai restaurants simply focus on the stable of dishes that translate most easily to the American palate. The results are delicious, but they can get boring when stamped out over and over again, and especially when eaten out of Styrofoam containers.
If you've grown tired of this model, check out Bambu in Richardson, where the focus is Isaan cooking. The term denotes the northeastern region of Thailand, which is known for rural and rustic cooking.
You likely already know some of these dishes. Larb, or the mixture of chicken, fish sauce, chilies and fresh herbs, owes its grit to Isaan. It's the region where Thais first roasted and ground raw rice, and the starch lends its flavor and texture to the dish. Strips of beef, turned into jerky? That's Isaan too. Catfish steamed, flaked and fried into a fluffy tangle of fuzz? Isaan. Suddenly your favorite curries and noodle dishes look a little less shiny.
The classics are all here, too. And an adventurous Thai eater will be just as at home as a takeout veteran who wants nothing more than a bowl of tom ka gai, and a green curry with chicken. These dishes are delicious for sure, but life is short and there are many tastes and textures to be experienced. Bambu is a great place to expand your palate, which is by far the most exciting way to expand your waist line.
Get to work.
No. 50: Joyce and Gigi's No. 49: East Hampton Sandwich Co. No. 48: 20 Feet Seafood Joint No. 47: Taj Chaat House No. 46: Mot Hai Ba No. 45: La Nueva Fresh and Hot No. 44: Pera Turkish Kitchen No. 43: Tom's Burgers and Grill No. 42: Mughlai No. 41: Russian Banya No. 40: Off-Site Kitchen No. 39: Bachman Lake Taqueria No. 38: Carbone's No. 37: Babe's No. 36: Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo No. 35: Zaguan No. 34: Royal Sichuan No. 33: Spoon
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.