It’s a common predicament among the University of Portland population; you’re lounging around the dorm with your friends on a Wednesday night, hungry but unwilling to eat yet another taco bowl from the Commons, when the simple, but ingenious, thought arises: “Who wants to get Thai food?” As brilliant as the idea is, there is no shortage of Thai joints surrounding UP, and making a simple choice of where to go requires a lot more mental stamina than one might think.

Fret not, I've been in the same situation plenty of times, and I've been able to test all the nearby restaurants with a lot of success, and - sometimes - a little failure. With all of that research, here are four of the most popular Thai restaurants in close proximity to campus and the dishes that each restaurant does best.

1. Thai Ginger

Katie Garaventa

Best dish: Pad Thai

You can never go wrong with this nearby-joint on Rosa Parks Way. As the favorite Thai restaurant of many UP students – most likely for its price and convenience – plenty of Pilots flock to this eatery when they’re tired of campus food. The best dish, and most commonly ordered, is their Pad Thai. A hefty serving that’s filling, priced well, and delicious, Thai Ginger’s Pad Thai is a classic dish that every student orders (and saves in their mini-fridge for the next day) at least once in their college life.

2. Thai Cottage

Katie Garaventa

Best dish: Cashew Stir Fry

This cute and very recognizable Thai eatery boasts a bright yellow exterior in the heart of St. Johns, making it hard to miss. The best dish of Thai Cottage is their Cashew Stir Fry. While this might stray from the typical noodles dishes that reign supreme in the hearts and stomachs of students, the sweet punch of the sauce combined with the savory flavors of the assorted veggies and rice creates a dish can’t help but make you sigh in satisfaction after a long day of studying. Plus, the nuttiness of the cashews provides a whole other plane of taste that ties the dish together and makes you want to suffer through finding street parking just to get to this wonderful meal. (Bonus points: they deliver!)

3. Mee Dee Thai

Katie Garaventa

Best Dish: Pad See Ew

If Thai Ginger is the all-star player on the team, then Mee Dee Thai is its second-string bench warmer – ready to step up to the plate whenever the MVP goes down for the count (i.e. its closed or packed to the brim). Mee Dee Thai, while a bit farther in distance, offers its Thai dishes in close resemblance to Thai Ginger. However, the uniqueness of the store’s atmosphere and the subtle differences in taste elevate Mee Dee to deserving of its own merit. Mee Dee’s best dish is their Pad See Ew. The sweet, molasses-y sauce that coats their thick noodles is decadent and satisfying, and the Chinese broccoli provides a refreshing bite to cut through the richness of the entire meal. This dish deserves play of the game, for sure. 

4. Drunken Noodle

Katie Garaventa

Best Dish: Pad Kee Mao

Drunken Noodle, a fun moniker, truly lives up to its namesake; Pad Kee Mao, or Drunken Noodles, is the dish that this Thai restaurant does best. With a spicy bite that comes from its use of bird’s eye chilies and a deeply savory sauce that’s paired with wide noodles and crisped ground pork, there's a reason they dedicated the restaurant's name to this dish. Don’t worry; this dish hasn’t had too much to drink (i.e. it won’t come stumbling in, crying because his ex didn’t respond to his 38 voicemails). But after a long night out, you might want to consider this dish to crave alcohol-ridden hunger you will most-definitely feel, or at least for the next day when you're too hungover to think.

The next time you have trouble deciding where to go, or what even to eat at these restaurants, hopefully this post guides you towards Thai food enlightenment.