“Bestes” Thai in Estes

Small restaurant serves big-flavor Asian dishes at small prices

The Thai Kitchen & Bar boasts that it is the “best Thai restaurant in town.” Since there is only one other, whose specialty is pho, it has a 50 percent chance of ranking itself properly. With ongoing service from the time it unlocks it door until it closes, the Thai Kitchen services continuously, which is great for us, because we usually stop in town after hiking, snowshoeing or skiing. The to-go menu and the website have slightly different hours, but they are essentially from late morning to well into the evening. Only two tables were occupied when we arrived in mid-afternoon, then several other parties came in, ate quickly and departed. When we left, there were again just two other tables occupied.

Located in a simple, low-slung building off the Elkhorn Avenue main drag through Estes Park, the Thai Kitchen serves a range of appetizers, soups, Thai curries, stir-fries, noodle dishes and rice — mostly from Southeast Asia but also with powerful influences from China and India, like Southeast Asia itself  — plus some Nepali and Tibetan dishes for good measure. Many of the same  ingredients appear in different dishes, assembled with mix-and-match inventiveness.

Within Thai Kitchen's simple building is a simple dining room, adorned with some Asian art, Buddhist symbols and Himalayan panoramas.
Steamed dumplings, called different things in different countries. Similar -- not identical, but similar.
"Chat samosa", crisp dumplings to begin with, lose some of their crispness when smothered in a spicy mix of onions, tomatoes, yogurt, mint and tamarind sauce.
Satay is made with long, even strips of chicken on skewers with a piquant chili sauce and a particularly chunky peanut sauce.
Huge bowl of a fully loaded seafood soup called 'tom tom talay,' flavoered wtih galangal, lime leaves and lemongrass.
The broad-noodle-based dish called 'Kee-Mao Bah Mee" is a stir-fry of vegetables and a protein of choice with a "special sauce" livened to desired spiciness with chili sauce.
Tikka masala asvailable with chikcen, pork, beef or tofu (same price) with a green basil floating island.

Price check: Appetizers, $3.50-$3.95; soups, $4.95-$7.95; entrées, most $7.95-$10.95 at lunch, $.9.95-$12.95 at dinner; other South Asian specialties $8.95-$12.95 at all times; desserts, $3-$3.95.
Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon