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“A Strip Mall Surprise”
Review of Smile Lao Thai

Smile Lao Thai
Ranked #207 of 814 Restaurants in Tempe
Restaurant details
Reviewed 2 April 2018

Strip mall Thai never sounds enticing. But most small restaurants in Arizona see existing customer traffic a big plus, so that's what we get. My wife and I have eaten at about 20 Phoenix area Thai restaurants over the last 15 years, and this was (mostly) the best Thai restaurant we've found in the Valley of the Sun.

We visited Smile Thai with friends who live in Tempe, and claimed it was their favorite. Smile Thai has a nice, contemporary atmosphere, and about 15 tables. It was only half-full on a Friday night. Gratefully, they only had one potentially distracting large TV. The volume was turned off, and they were showing a loop of dining experiences in Thailand instead of sports. Smart! Our server was very attentive and responsive, as we had special requests and substitutions... all of which were carefully followed. Our food came out reasonably fast, but not rapid-fire, so we had time to talk (no shouting required), and never felt hurried.

We started with crispy, fresh, large, and flavorful Summer Rolls with shrimp. Excellent sauces. We also got our all-time favorite Thai dish: Tom Kha soup. We ALWAYS like it. But this was the BEST rendition of it we've ever had, anywhere. Lots of tasty mushrooms and chicken, thick, creamy soup base, mild spice level, and no inedible bits. ALL four of us loved it.

For mains, I got a daily special - Red Curry with mango. I've never had curry with mango, but I WILL in the future! Delightful, though a "mild" spiciness, it was pretty spicy. Just about perfect for me, but beware if you're sensitive to heat.

My wife got her favorite, Pad See Eew. At other restaurants, this dish sometimes tastes "canned" and indistinct, but not at Smile Thai. It was crisp and pungent. No overwhelming presence of soy sauce. No heat issues.

Our friends got Yellow Curry and Panang Curry, and loved them. In fact the only disappointment was our shared dessert of sticky rice and sliced mango, one of our regular choices. The white sauce was fine but the rice was overcooked and tough. I guess we should've said something, but we'd been there 1-1/2 hours, and needed to go.

Our total bill, with tax and 20% tip, came to $110. Well worth it.

BTW, we had enough leftovers for two additional meals the next day. Pretty substantial servings... which we love! Who wants to cook on the weekend? Also, they don't serve alcohol. But they don't need to! The dining experience was outstanding.

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Thank TheMapDoctor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 6 March 2018

We ordered three meals from here to go. Two were traditional curry thai dishes, and one was a Vietnamese pho soup dish. The pho had their own spin on things and it was really delicious. The curry dishes (one red, one yellow) were both delicious. Location is very convenient to the ASU / Tempe area. I should note that on all our take-away items we had no problems with spills or improperly packaged hot food and soup items. They did a great job here.

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Thank California_Wine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2017

If you have never had Lao or Thai food, you have no idea what you are missing. This place is Excellent, Outstanding, and a Must Try. This place has some great, great food. If you are expecting Chinese, you come to the wrong place. The food here is better. The cook (and owner) Ann can whip up some mean dishes. The food is so delicious, place is very clean, staff is great, friendly, and pleasant. Eaten there four times and counting. Highly recommend this spot. The prices are reasonable. The value is insanely in the customer's favor. Great food, cheap prices. On small heads up. Parking near the restaurant can be a pain sometimes.

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Thank GSteuart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 January 2017

Our party of four went here before a concert. We had a bad experience. First, the service was awful. While we were seated quickly and orders taken in short order, the waitress forgot to put our order in. Further, she didn't know anything about the menu, even the name of the dishes. While we were not in a hurry, it took forever for us to get our food and our waitress was rarely seen. We waited about 30-40 minutes for the first entree to be delivered. Our food was delivered over a 15 minute period - in other words our first entree came out 15 minutes before the last entree. As to the food, definitely do not get the egg rolls - they are frozen like you get from Costco were just heated up. The vegetables inside the egg rolls was just mush. We also got coconut soup as an appetizer - it was more interesting - not good or bad just interesting flavor - opinions at the table were mixed. While a couple of our party thought their entree was ok - they both got fried rice, my entree was supposed to be vegetables in garlic sauce. What I got was just slightly warm vegetables with a little bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl and just plain white rice for $12. Very unacceptable. Another person ordered their dish spicy but said there was no spice to it at all - again just vegetables in noodles. We will not go back.

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Thank Frugal_traveler21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 2017 via mobile

Visited on New Years Eve and pleasantly surprised it was not very busy as we went early. Had chicken Thai curry and it was great. Served with very good white rice. Portions were plentiful. Spices were phenomenal. Small seating area but ambiance was satisfactory. Service was very good. Will definitely return.

Thank PCMenor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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