THIS INTIMATE Thai cafe just down the ave from Ramsey Hill is unlike any other–and simply the best Thai restaurant in the Twin Cities. The Mango Spring Rolls are so uncommonly delicate, delicious, and lovely they’re like lyric poems on a plate. Many other sublime dishes grace the Mango Thai menu. Two I swoon over repeatedly are the chicken in red curry and coconut milk and the delectable Mango Shrimp Salad (elegant in glass).
Appealingly minimalist and bamboo-ish, Mango Thai has fewer than 10 tables, three of them sunken into a wood-framed platform framed by cushions (they’re oddly comfortable, but getting settled there can require certain less-than-graceful scooting or climbing moves, which tends to inspire an amiable kinship among platform-seated diners ). The restaurant is so tiny that it’s worth calling ahead for a table. There’s a small bar, too, which can a convivial place to hang out while waiting; you can also order dinner entrees there.
Until recently, Mango Thai has been one of the Twin Cities’ few BYOB restaurants, which has made for economical dining. But apparently a city licensing issue has popped up to make Mango Thai dry—a huge disappointment, and one we hope the city of St. Paul will help rectify. (I’m also fond of another BYOB place, Babani’s, a Middle Eastern gem in downtown St. Paul). If and when BYOB returns to Mango Thai, a snap to stop at the swell Solo Vino shop two blocks east of Mango Thai to pick up wine or beer–the Mango Thai servers happily bring openers and glasses with nary a corkage fee.
The Mississippi Market Co-op is on the nearby corner. Open until 9:30, it’s a great place to get in a little shopping while you wait for a Mango Thai table or before heading home after your meal.
>Note: Mango Thai is the top of the heap—but two other Twin Cities Thai restaurants are highly recommended as well. See SpyTC Top 3: Best Thai.
Mango Thai, 610 Selby Ave., St. Paul | 651-291-1414