drunken noodle dish on a white plate

Review – Thai Cafe in Durham

Sign on top of a brick strip mall that says Thai Cafe
Thai Cafe is located on University Drive, across the street from Nana’s and the Q Shack.

One of our favorite Thai restaurants in the Triangle region is Thai Cafe in Durham. This restaurant has been around for many years, because it delivers consistent, high quality Thai dishes at an affordable price. Owners Oddy and his sister Kanchana have built a reputation as being one of the better Thai restaurants in the area.

Scott and I stopped by to eat dinner there recently when we were having a craving for Thai food. The restaurant is located in a little strip mall on University Drive, right across the street from Nana’s and the Q Shack, two other famous Durham restaurants.

People sitting at tables in a big open room
Inside Thai Cafe.
The patio on the side of Thai Cafe with tables and umbrellas
The patio is located on the side of the building at Thai Cafe in Durham.

When you enter the restaurant, you see a big bar near the front door and a big room full of tables scattered about the room. There is a small, half wall that separates this big room from a sun room area that opens out to the patio, which is where we were seated. The air conditioning was struggling to work during this heat wave we’ve had, so they had a few floor fans out to help keep the room cool. It was a little distracting, but much better than being too warm, and is really the only complaint I had.

fried tofu appetizer
The fried tofu appetizer.

We tried the fried tofu as our appetizer. The pieces had a nice crispness on the outside and the tender white tofu on the inside. The pieces of tofu were a little oily, but the sauce we dipped them in was really good. It was a chili sauce with fish oil and little pieces of peanuts.

Chicken panang curry dish
The chicken panang curry dish is rich and creamy.

My husband had one of our favorite dishes, which is the Panang curry with chicken. The bowl is full of a rich, creamy Panang sauce, which is a bit sweet with a bite of curry spiciness and the fragrant aroma of Kaffir lime leaves. This sauce is thicker than some places that serve this dish with a sauce that is real soupy. I prefer it this way, with more coconut milk in it. Along with the pieces of chicken are some strips of red bell pepper, onion and some basil leaves. It is served with a big scoop of white rice that you can dump into the dish to help soak up the yummy Panang curry sauce.

drunken noodle dish on a white plate
The druken noodle dish had a good basil flavor.

I tried the drunken noodle dish, which was really good. It had big, thick egg noodles served with crispy green beans, tomatoes, onions, green and red bell peppers and eggs and lots of basil and is served on top of some romaine lettuce leaves. The noodles, that are served in a spicy chili sauce are soft and contrast nicely with the crisp lettuce. My mouth was humming, but no overwhelmed by the chili flakes. I was quite happy with my choice.

Big fluffy slice of coconut cake with a cherry on top
Do not miss the coconut cake! It is one of the favorites at Thai Cafe.

Thai Cafe always serves generous portions, so bring your appetite when you come here. We thought we were too full for dessert, but decided to split a slice of coconut cake which the waiter recommended. Boy, were we happy to try it because it was light and very moist. There were copious amounts of fresh whipped cream mixed with fresh coconut flakes in it for the frosting. I actually think I could have finished the whole slice myself, even though it was a very big piece. It was just too good to not eat it!

Thai Cafe is also very easy on your wallet. We only spent a little over $30 for our appetizer, two entrees and dessert, a rare find in the Triangle for a decent meal these days.

Thai Cafe is located at 2501 University Drive in Durham and is open Monday – Friday from 11:30 – 3pm and from 5pm – 10pm (11pm on Friday) and from noon – 11pm on Saturday and noon – 10pm on Sunday. They have a second location at 3309 Rogers Road in Wake Forest.
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