As Arizona starts reentering normalcy and opening up, there are few things I miss more than dining out with J. Date nights are sacred in our relationship. Foodie date nights are my favorite. They are the nights when we put our phones down (except for food and drink photos) and just jive. We catch up, we set goals, we plan, we dream, and of course we people watch.
One of J’s favorite things to do is research and find restaurants new to us to try out on our nights alone. Glai Baan was one of those special finds. We both love bold flavors and unique settings. Located in midtown, Glai Baan is a quaint and quirky spot serving Thai street food. It’s a small building on the south west corner of Osborn and 24th Street (for reference if you’re local) with the tiniest parking lot, but the quaintest entrance.
Upon entrance there is a mood and a vibe that whisks you away. The tiny building has huge character and inviting corners. Glai Baan is a converted old home with brick walls and sweet nooks and crannies. The bar is buzzing with a large window, wood accents, bright colors, dim lighting and Thai culture threaded throughout. The concrete flooring in the long rectangular dining room anchors the room, family photos flank the walls, bistro lights make the small space even more cozy and bright pops of color bring it to life. The patio is walled and protected from the bustling busy streets just beyond, nestled into the side of the house and decorated with strands of prayer flags. When your are at Glai Baan you are truly whisked away into a different setting; one that is inviting and welcoming and smelling delicious.
There is never not a wait. Having dined here many times now, one thing is certain, there will be a wait. Mr and I have always said, “Where there is a wait, there is food worth eating and drink worth drinking.” When we travel we always try to find restaurants where the locals are willing to wait. For anyone visiting Arizona in the future, when we’re allowed to adventure again, Glai Baan is where the locals wait.
Waiting never tasted so good.
The drinks – a small but mighty cocktail menu that shines just as bright as the food. There are whites, there are reds, there are pinks and there are bubbles of course. For every wino the list is long and diverse. The beer options are few, but they are specific. Many of the options are Asian for a transport in tastes. For travelers there are also local Arizona beers to try. The cocktail menu is where we spend our time though. There are 9 cocktails to select from and all of them are Thai forward which makes for the most fun in beverage selection. J and I commonly pick complimenting beverages and share sips. The Wishing Star and Laab Sided are two favorites. Give them a sip, tell me what you think.
The food – I don’t even know where to start. Go hungry. Try everything. The menu is designed to be a tasting and sharing menu similar to tapas style. No plate is too large not to fully indulge in, so enjoy many with another. There will be features, try one. Glai Baan sources their ingredients locally when they can and does not use MSG, which is a bonus on all levels. Every dish is flavor focused with a hint of spice based on the region of Thailand most their menu is modeled after, the northeastern, Isan region. Start with a few small plates, and if I may make a suggestion, you should try the Yum woo sen, Larb moo, Kanom jeeb, and the Yum hed tod. I dream about the Kanom jeeb, better known as steamed pork dumplings. There are a few noodle dishes to try out, if I am picking for my palate, I will always choose the Koa tom moo. J and I love to share some of the following classics; Padthai (because, duh), Kao pad pu, Kapro gai kai dao, and the Panang curry. Every dish is a flavor journey. They are all light enough to leave you wanting more. It is absolutely best to pick a smattering of dishes and experience the full breadth of the menu.
The end – before you go, don’t forget an after dinner drink or dessert. The Oliang Express cocktail is an awesome after dinner drink. It is dessert in a glass. Heavy dark notes of coffee and chocolate will leave you with the perfect night cap. If you are looking for just a bit more and love sweets, you cannot leave without trying the Kanom Custard. It is a simple dish of steamed sweet bread with a coconut cream dipping sauce. So so simple, yet so delicious. It is comforting and yet divine. Simple and yet something I would have never thought of. The Kanom Custard is the perfect way for a dessert lover to end the night.
In these weird and wild times, there is one thing that keeps me feeling sane, it’s grabbing take out from my favorite spots. Though Glai Baan has not fully opened their dining room, they are serving food and providing take-out from noon – 8pm or a little later ;), Tuesday’s – Saturday’s. If you are local, please go give them a try. When the re-open, I promise I will be on the wait list with you!