Surprisingly enough, Nashville has a wonderful mix of authentic Thai cuisine. Having worked in a Thai restaurant and traveled to Southeast Asia, I have developed a minor addiction to Thai food. After some pretty thorough research, this is the short list of the restaurants with the best food, drinks, and atmospheres along with suggestions on who to go with and what to order.

1. Thai Esane

curry, chicken, pho, chili, noodle, soup
Mary Beth Schatzman

This is one of the most traditional Thai restaurants in Nashville. It's right outside of the Gulch, and is open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. If you're looking for a fun place to grab a quick lunch close to Vandy, this is a good choice.

Everything on their menu can be ordered at a different spice level, and they take their spiciness very seriously. Some recommendations are their Papaya salad (Thai-style) and Esane sausage. 

2. The Eastern Peak

The Easter Peak is located slightly outside of the city and is the definition of a hidden gem. Their menu has both classic Thai food and yummy sushi. Although they don't take reservations, they are often able to seat large groups, and their bar has some really fun cocktails. Make sure you try the drunken noodles and the red dragon roll. 

3. Thai Phooket

rice, sauce, chicken, pasta, vegetable
Mary Beth Schatzman

If you're looking for a low-key place with some great Thai food, Thai Phooket is your place. The long menu means that everyone can find something they like. Definitely don't judge this restaurant by its exterior, it's what is inside that matters. Whether you're hungover and need some takeout or haven't gotten out of your pjs yet, this restaurant will not judge you in any state you arrive in. 

4. The Smiling Elephant

noodle, chicken, spaghetti, pasta, pad thai
Peaches Memishian

The Smiling Elephant, as the name suggests, is a wonderfully cozy and comforting restaurant. They have (in my opinion) the best pad Thai in Nashville. It's also a great spot for vegetarians and has flavorful tofu and a good gluten-free veggie stir-fry. It's definitely more of a local's place, and is a perfect spot for some no-fuss food.

For all those who's spirit animal is pad Thai, go checkout these Nashville Thai gems. Or just get some takeout, because let's be honest, Thai food is best eaten in sweatpants with some reality TV.