I'm partial to lists, but I will spare you my spreadsheet of the three dozen Thai restaurants in San Diego.
As I've mentioned, most places I've tried around Hillcrest and Mid city have been disappointing. However, I've looked through the board and found a few options.
We ended up trying Thai Time last night, just because it was the closest to our house and had not been reviewed (to my knowledge). I now see that it had been dismissed as Americanized thai by Kirk and some other 'hounds a few years back, and it also seems to have four locations. I should have been tipped off by the lack of asian customers. The spice level was pleasantly high - I believe the Som Tom (papaya) was the hottest I have ever ordered - but the recommended dishes lacked other flavors and balance. The shrimp and seafood was a little overcooked, and the vegetables were of the chop-suey variety in all the dishes I observed. The prices were reasonable enough that I was not too disappointed, but we won't be going back.
While searching today, I found a couple of places that sound interesting.
Thai Cafe (Buffet)
All these have been called "decent" or "not bad" by experienced reviewers. None seems to have stood out above the mediocre level of Celadon, but they may be worth a try. Does anyone else have any experiences at these places?
Now for the interesting ones.
Siam Basil (Siamese Basil?) in Encinitas has several warm reviews on other sites, and a couple older good reviews on this board. It is quite a drive for me; can anyone recommend it? Is the food more flavorful and interesting than the usual San Diego fare?
Bali Thai in Mission Valley (!) had a good review by "Becky" a few months back. It seems to serve Indonesian and Singapore food alongside some thai dishes. It also won the 2005 U-T reader's poll for "Best Thai". Yeah, that may be a bad sign.
Lotus Thai in Hillcrest/Downtown. Some have recommended it, but there have been a couple of bad reviews.
Karinya Thai in Mission Beach. Now this is interesting - None other than e.d. from yuma has enjoyed the whole fish, the curries and the papaya salad at this little place. His post also reminded me that we once ate at a good Thai place by that beach; perhaps this was the one? The food was not so different from Amari or Kitima, in my recollection, but it was done well. Has anyone else tried this place?
I may have to conclude, as many of you have already, that there is no outstanding Thai in San Diego. But that's no reason we should stop trying! There is bound to be a new Punjabi Tandoor or Ba Ren out there somewhere. And there is always Asia Cafe (Laotian).
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