I was so excited to find out my favorite Thai places are back in business, some just for takeout and others have fully opened dining rooms. Colorful, aromatic and sculpted presentations look just as good on the plate as packaged up to go. Short on time? Order from the following Thai eateries. Some of these places offer delivery service, too.
6416 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, 717-796-1246
The dining room is open enough to allow curry scents to escape from this compact restaurant, located in a strip mall at Silver Spring Square. Named after the national noodle dish of Thailand, it’s no surprise that Pad Thai ($15) is also the number one best-selling menu item. A platter of thin, squiggly rice noodles have shrimp, crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, and strips of egg and scallion woven throughout.
For diverse and authentic Thai cooking, focus on the chef’s selections: #82 Yum duck ($19) has hints of ginger, chunks of pineapple and richness from crushed cashews; #76 Spicy Basil Lamb ($19) consists of basil-sauced, fork-tender lamb, crisp, colorful vegetables and fresh basil leaves; and #89 Gang Som ($19) features crispy catfish made with som curry paste and slightly sour splash of tamarind juice.
5103 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, 717-695-9889
The menu here focuses on light, fresh, innovative and beautifully sculpted dishes. For now the dining room remains closed but takeout is available. One top starter is sugar-cookie crispy, Golden Triangle ($4.50/ $8). The name of this appetizer is singular but there are numerous delicately deep fried panko wontons filled with scallops, shrimp, imitation crab and scallions. Dip the points into the sweet and spicy homemade garlicky aioli.
The house specialty Catfish Cha Cha ($14) is a crisply deep-fried light tapioca breaded, flaky fish napped in red curry sauce and served with a melange of steamed cabbage, carrot and broccoli. The grilled and marinated pork selection (beef version available, too) of the Thai Waterfall ($13) has a delectable roasted tomato garlic sauce and paper-thin cucumber salad with slivers of red onion.
125 Gateway Dr, Mechanicsburg, 717-795-7292
This long-running Thai restaurant located at Gateway Square was the first Thai eatery of its kind. The restaurant has kept up its reputation for over two decades and through the pandemic. Small, socially distanced tables are scattered throughout and around the recently revamped fish tanks.
My hands down, go-to entrée here is the luscious chicken with garlic and white pepper sauce ($16.95). Veer from your usual Thai entrée and try this unique dish. Buttery textured thin wafers of chicken breast are served in a distinctive spicy pepper tasting sauce over chopped cabbage.
3 Route 15, Dillsburg, (717) 502-8717
Thai trinkets decorate the main room with low ceiling, buttoned faux leather booths and banquet chairs tucked into clothed round tables here. The authentic Thai fare outshines the makeshift ambiance. Favorites to try are: Som Tum ($7.99), refreshing julienne papaya salad doused in spicy, citrusy dressing and sprinkled with crushed peanuts; Duck curry ($16.99), roasted duck in heat laced coconut milk and wilted basil leaf sauce; and Goon Pad Puk ($14.99), consisting of shrimp and brilliantly colored vegetables in a fragrant garlic sauce.
1030 S. 13th St., Harrisburg, 717-233-0222
Veer off Paxton Street to find this hidden storefront at the Asia Mall. Softly lit and delicately decorated, with a few wall hangings, the room is very sparse, clean and organized but the dining room is closed at the moment. It is takeout only.
Try two of the newer dishes: fried whole tamarind shrimp ($14.95) toppled with fried shallots; or skewers of shrimp satay ($14.95) served with rich peanut sauce and crunchy cucumber relish. Another classic, Kee Mao ($8.95 lunch/$11.95 dinner) is made with choice of meat, seafood, vegetables or tofu. This dish has an underlying smoky flavor. The rice noodles hold their shape combined with the sweet peppers, onions, tomato chunks and baby basil leaves.
1917 Paxton St, Harrisburg, 717-236-2931
Regular customers know exactly where to exit off Paxton Street to find this hidden eatery. At the moment there is no dine-in seating and no delivery service. But the restaurant offers comforting and colorful, made-to-order, authentic Thai dishes. Start simple with the citrus scented Thai slaw, a mixture of cabbage and carrots, or the Tom Yum soup, a smoky broth simmering with either chicken or shrimp.
Follow up with one of their classic coconut-scented curry dishes such as gaeng mussamun made with potatoes and carrots. Crisp tender vegetables merge with meat, tofu or seafood in Pad Put Ruam Mid. And as always, the house favorite Pad Thai and drunken noodles with choice of meat are available.
1057 N. York St., York, 717-747-3636
An unadorned interior accommodates small and larger groups around thin wooden tables here. Well that was before COVID-19. Now this authentic Thai restaurant offers only takeout and delivery, no dine-in. But the beautiful Thai presentations remain as eye-catching as they are mouth-watering.
For drinks, start with a round of Thai iced coffee laced with cream. Signature dishes include deep fried bikini shrimp ($6) wrapped in seaweed and wonton, the colorful papaya salad deluxe ($8), the lacy pancake topped Pad Thai with chicken, pork, vegetables or tofu ($9, beef and shrimp $11), the broad bands of drunken noodles with peppers, onions, tomatoes and spicy basil sauce ($9) and the seafood pad cha ($15).
Steaming bowls of Vietnamese pho ($9 or large $11) consist of intense broth and cellophane noodles beneath chopped scallions, cilantro, basil leaves, squeeze of fresh lime juice and bean sprouts. There are over a dozen meats, seafood and vegetarian versions of pho available. There is a slight up-charge for some of the pricier ingredients such as shrimp or seafood ($3).
1319 E. Chocolate Ave., Derry Township, 717-533-4575
The restaurant is not open for dine-in but by all means order takeout. You will not be disappointed. The menu is easy to navigate and customers need only pick the proteins or seafood to be added to curries, stir fry, noodles and rice. Each dish brings forth nuances of flavors, herbs and uniquely Thai spices. The Tom Ka chicken soup ($8.95) is the color of coconut but gives off a citrusy heat from lime, lemon grass, cilantro and subtle spices amidst bobbing mushrooms and chunks of chicken. For an unforgettable Thai stir fry try the Thai smoked chili and cashew ($13.95-$16.95) with your choice of chicken, pork, seafood, tofu or vegetables.