Why go: With exposed ducts, turned-down lights, and low banquettes, this looks more like a place for $300 bottles of Absolut than a neighborhood Thai restaurant. But the often fiery cooking is as vibrant and artful as the setting.
What to get: Flaky puffs of curried potatoes; shrimp tossed with lemongrass and lime juice; crisply fried fish with mango and a chili vinaigrette; firecracker shrimp; green-papaya and grilled-beef salads; stewed five-spice pork; pork belly or tofu with chili and basil; fried and lacquered duck tossed with chilies; a split pineapple filled with pineapple sorbet.
Best for: Dive-phobes and dates.
Insider tip: A weekday happy hour features $4 appetizers and selected half-price cocktails from 4 to 6:30.
>> See all 2010 Cheap Eats restaurants here