Gems off the light rail: Unleash the Thaiger with flavors of Thailand in downtown Phoenix

Uncover hidden gems all over the city with reporter Nicole Dusanek as she gets off at a different light rail stop each week to explore.

Wild Thaiger off the light rail stop at Central Avenue and Thomas Road offers authentic but tame Thai food that will linger on the taste buds as well as on the mind long after the first bite.

The walk to the front door of the porch offers an atmosphere that blends the Thailand scene into its Arizona home. The constant chatter and room full of customers are clearly good signs of the restaurant's popularity. 

The vibe changes as soon as the door opens, the lights dim drastically and the tiger painting on the wall behind the check-in table is an eye-catcher. I sat in a table near the window where I could enjoy the quiet and elegant atmosphere inside, while watching the welcoming and warm ambiance on the porch.

The drink options included different flavored juices such as mango or lychee, Thaiger’s milk boba and Thai iced coffee and tea. The Thaiger's milk boba has an authentic flavor and chewy boba which offers a refreshing change from the popularized bubble tea modern coffee shops carry. The boba came in the classic tapioca brown, as well as a lighter honey color and a rustic red.

The menu offers a variety of different Thai foods, including curry chicken, grapao gai and other options such as dragon eggs. This dish of crab, pork and shrimp infused dumplings has made an interesting contribution to the restaurant's menu after being featured on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." The menu clearly marks vegetarian and gluten free options as well as different heat levels of how spicy the foods are.

Even with so many options to choose from, one item continued to call my name: the veggie tofu pad thai. When the dish arrived at the table, I was not disappointed. It looked like something that belonged in an art museum, crafted to look as delicious as it tasted.

The food was organized elegantly on the plate, prompting the consumer to mix in their own favorite veggies and dictate the amount they wanted of each item.

If one could have a romance with four, one equal bite of noodles, greens and tofu is all it would take to fall in love with this meal. The flavors complemented each other with a light sauce that brought it all together. The dish was cleared too quickly, leaving time to enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant while sitting under the intense gaze of the tiger painting.

Wild Thaiger offers meals that are filling but will leave the diner scraping up whatever is left on the plate with their bellies wanting more. The restaurant is a taste of Thailand in downtown Phoenix where one bite will turn anyone into a Wild Thaiger, hungry for more.


Reach the reporter at ndusanek@asu.edu or follow @ NikkiDusanek on Twitter

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