The Austin Chronicle

Restaurant Reviews

Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, November 21, 2008, Food

Thai Fresh

909 W. Mary Ste. B, 494-6436
Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-8pm

After years as a successful stand at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, the Austin Farmers' Market, and the Triangle, Thai Fresh has found a brick-and-mortar home in South Austin. Unlike many another start-up, Thai Fresh has hit the ground running, drawing customers from Travis Heights and Zilker in addition to the Bouldin Creek and Galindo neighborhoods. The fact is, Jam Sanitchat, the powerhouse behind Thai Fresh, is both a fabulous Thai cook and an impressive businesswoman.

Jam started out teaching Thai cooking at home, on location, and at Central Market. Next, she sold her marvelous food at farmers' markets, and then, before she opened the Mary Street location, she used Internet listservs to find out exactly what area residents wanted. The result is a combination Thai restaurant, deli, grocery, and cooking school that is being enthusiastically embraced by the community.

Along with her partner, Bruce Barnes, and her mother, Orawan, Jam makes some of the best Thai food you are likely to find in all of Texas. She uses locally grown and produced ingredients, including pastured chicken, grass-fed beef, and Berkshire pork. "The farmers' market got me used to the good stuff," Jam laughs, "and now I can't go back!"

At the Thai Fresh deli counter, there are usually 11 or so prepared dishes that change daily, though certain dishes, such as pad thai and coconut soup, are always present. Panang curry, masaman curry, pad prik king, Drunken Noodles, sticky rice with mango, spicy lemongrass soup, vegetarian egg rolls, and Waterfall Beef are only a few of the 45 dishes on the rotating menu. Everything is priced between $5.99 and $11.99 a pound and is sold in reusable, microwave- and dishwasher-safe containers. If you decide to eat in, you can get a one-, two-, or three-item plate ($6.50, $7.50, $8.99), with your choice of white or brown rice.

The grocery at Thai Fresh is as uniquely tailored to area customers as the prepared food: Not only are all the basic Thai ingredients for sale, such as coconut milk, rice noodles, and curry pastes, but also many local farmers' wares – Richardson's beef and pork, Remember When Dairy's milk and butter, Simmons' pastured eggs, local produce, and herbs. It's a miniature farmers' market right in the neighborhood, and it's open every day.

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