If you’re a fan of Thai food like I am, it may be hard to say what the best Thai restaurant is in the Triangle. Searching for a great pad thai, pad kee mao, or Thai curry dish hasn’t seemed to have gotten any easier as the food scene has boomed here in the past 10 years. My old favorites like Sawasdee Thai and Yum Yum Thai have closed over the years making me uncertain of where to go to get my Thai food on. But out in the Chapel Hill area, you’ve got some great options and one that recently caught my eye during the pandemic was Thai Station in Carrboro. This quirky location right by the railroad tracks has been many things: a barbeque restaurant, live music venue, and more. But after a couple of visits to Thai Station, I have some confidence that they will have some longevity in this cool spot. Here’s why!
Thai Station, Carrboro – Location and Ambiance
If you plan on visiting Thai Station, be aware that this location is in one of the busier areas in Carrboro! Right next to Weaver St. Market and Carr Mill Mall, Thai Station shares a parking lot with these other businesses and it may be tight for parking in busier periods. Once you’re parked you’ll see Thai Station on the eastern end: Two rail cars that seem to be “parked” at a train depot-building. There’s another train car upfront which I believe is a separate business. Step inside and you’ll enter the main dining area festively decorated with flowers and rattan lighting fixtures overhead along with a bunch of 4-tops in the dining area. Thai Station has a patio area in the back and two dining rooms to the left and right in the rail cars. I believe there are bathrooms to the left and also the kitchen to the right. It’s a really cool and unique space, Thai Station has put it all to good use from what I can see.
I’ve usually been seated in the right-side rail car which is decorated in burnt orange along with black leather, high-back seating. Euro-inspired posters and a metal-leaves chandelier above makes for a cozy space! The left-side dining room is more modern and open, possibly for larger groups. And I have yet to dine on the outdoor patio but it was a popular spot, during the pandemic.
Thai Station, Carrboro – Food and Dishes
Peruse Thai Station’s menu behind a heavy, leather cover and you’ll find all the usual Thai specialties: curries, rice noodles, stir-fries, and soups. Prices are very reasonable at Thai Station: $8 and under for appetizers, $10 and under for lunch, $15 and under for dinner, a bit of a happy surprise for me. Thai Station also has a decent selection of wines, sakes, and beers between $3 and $10, whoop whoop!
I’ve primarily been here for lunch which is a great way to try any restaurant for the first time. Before your main meal, Thai Station has offered up shrimp chips and a very tasty side salad. I am NOT a fan of salads but really enjoy this one. Leafy greens, cucumber, shredded carrots, and light peanut sauce make for a delicious starter, yum! And even though it’s a lot of food, don’t miss out on Thai Station’s appetizers! The crispy Thai chicken wings are lovely dipped in their chili sauce and the crab cheese spring rolls are perfectly fried with a hint of curry inside. One thing you’ll immediately notice is the attention to detail that Thai Station has for their dishes despite how inexpensive they are, a great sign!
For lunch entrees during my visits, I’ve tried both the chicken pad thai and massaman curry (light coconut curry) with chicken. The chicken pad thai was lovingly presented in a beautiful ceramic bowl and served with plenty of bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. Full of flavor and definitely tasty, it was a good portion size for lunch. And Thai Station’s massaman curry was perfectly spiced and gingery, a handful of cashew nuts sprinkled on top. Loved this version served with white rice, I wolfed it all down without much guilt.
Thai Station, Carrboro – Service and Final Thoughts
Service-wise, Thai Station has been quite solid but admittedly, I visited during the pandemic and had an initial bad experience. But I didn’t give up and the service over my next two visits was quite good. So I’ll attribute that one bad incident to probably a staffing issue. Having been to Thailand a couple of times, you tend to get relaxed service which is also the case here, so expect some quirks from time to time.
Overall I’m now quite impressed and really enjoy what they are doing here. Great food, prices, and ambiance makes for an easy meal choice although the ride from Raleigh can be a bit tough for me. But even given the distance, I would definitely make the trek out here for Thai Station’s wonderful menu. Their chef definitely has some real culinary talent and it shows up in their dishes at every price point, bon appetit!