My first experience with Laotian food was last winter when I discovered Houang's Restaurant, a tiny hole-in-the-wall place behind Thai House in Amarillo. I posted about it, but there was another post on Chowhound earlier this year thinking that Houang's had closed because the phone had been disconnected. I wanted to find out, so I stopped by there on my last trip to Amarillo and it is indeed still in business. I've also found some other options for Laotian food in Amarillo. It seems that there is a Laotian and Southeast Asian community in the city that makes these restaurants possible (see link below).
I was surprised to find HOUANG'S RESTAURANT, 5615 E. Amarillo Blvd., open late when I ate there last winter. I wanted to take the opportunity to try a papaya salad. It was served cold and was very sour with a Thai vinaigrette sauce. I ordered a spiciness level of 10 out of 10--this turned out to be a mistake because Houang's follows the Asian spiciness scale and not the typical watered-down American scale I'm used to. I also got a seafood soup that is normally served in a hot pot but they gave me a smaller version that seemed to be just as good. When I returned recently I discovered some other interesting things such as thai tea that I believe is homemade. The pad entrees also look very good (pad curry, pad grapow with basil, and pad cashew). I was not able to eat there this time but I definitely want to try it again. I don't know what happened to the phone before, but they told me their current number is (806) 383-1569. It is no longer open late, though-it closes at 9 PM (3 PM on Sun.).
I have eaten at THAI HOUSE, 5601 E. Amarillo Blvd. several times for Thai food--mostly phad thai, and it always seems to be open (I've even eaten there on Christmas day). I noticed from the article below that the owner of Thai House is from Laos, so I asked if there were any Laotian dishes on the menu. It turns out that there are, and I tried the kao-lao soup, made with chicken broth, that was very good. I also tried the papaya salad, but this one was sweet. The spiciness was attained through chopped up green peppers mixed into the salad rather than red flakes of chile that are used at Houang's. I am not familiar with what would be considered authentic Lao or Thai style salads, but I will have to say that I think the one at Houang's is better--I just did not like the sweetness of Thai House's salad. One interesting fact I learned from the waitress is that Thai House can prepare three types of phad thai--regular Thai, Issan Thai, and Laotian style. I'm sure that the one I have been ordering has been the regular Thai style, but this one is pretty good, with excellent chiles on the table that can be added.
LM RESTAURANT, 5813 E. Amarillo Blvd. (806) 383-0402 is the most recent place I have tried. Laotian is the primary cuisine served, but some Thai and Chinese dishes are also available. I liked the restaurant immediately because it is the only one of the three that has a non-smoking area. Also it is open late (until 2 AM, and 10 PM on Sun.). The smoking area is also a large banquet room so I suspect there may be large parties on weekends. I asked for recommendations and ended up with Lab, a Lao-style salad with chicken. This turned out to be delicious--I would say by far the best Laotian food I have tried. It was spicier than the level that I thought I had instructed--it was not too spicy for my taste, but spicier than I needed to be eating on a trip, where I usually tone down the food. The kicker, though, was that it also came with chicken soup--similar to the kao-lao I had at Thai House, but *both* of these dishes at LM were about the same price as the soup alone at Thai House. There is a Thai market attached to the restaurant with several fruit drinks available and quite a few goodies. Also you can order Thai tea in the restaurant (beer is available here and at Thai House, but I don't think you can get it at Houang's).
In addition to these restaurants, there is a noodle house behind Thai House Restaurant, and I have yet to try the Vietnamese restaurant mentioned in the article (Cafe Tinh Nho). Laotian food is so unusual that it is just hard to pass up.