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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon–Sat 11:30am–9:00pm
Sun noon–9:00pm

Bar None
Credit cards None
Reservations Not accepted

University District
4543 University Way NE
Seattle, WA
(206) 548-9548
Thai Tom
Just ask the college kids—this is where you go for cheap Thai-American food in a hurry

Thai Tom is a bright spot in the midst of all the Ave’s schlock, yet it’s still kind of a gross and crowded hole in the wall. But the open kitchen here is awesome: sit at the bar next to the frightening flames and watch the unbelievable mess that the tiny kitchen becomes.

Thai Tom’s menu doesn’t look any different from the other eight million Thai joints in town, but the cooks here turn up the heat more than most, even in banal dishes like pad Thai and the ill-inspired “Swimming Rama” (chicken, spinach, bean sprouts, peanut sauce)—a two or three will be spicier than most places’ fives. But that doesn’t mean this food is authentic. It’s still mostly Americanized recipes (bean sprouts? sweet peanut sauce?) without the tang or subtlety of authentic Thai cuisine, even if the searing chili is there. This is cursory food, made to order, yes, but without the obsessive care that yields the great balance of Thai food. Still, it’s a notch above your average Thai-American slop.

If you can’t snag a seat at the counter, just get takeout. Thai Tom gets packed with UW students, and the waits aren’t worth a sit-down in this hot and loud place. Take-out also minimizes your time with the waitstaff, who have a reputation for being surly.

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