One of the biggest perks of living in such a cultural melting pot like Miami is having the pick of the litter when it comes to the world’s most flavorful foods. And while immigrants are assimilating into the American way of life, their restaurants are a way to keep their homeward connection alive. Serious Miami foodies will know that North Miami and North Miami Beach are two neighborhoods boasting some of the best eats in town. Located inside one of NE 167th ST’s many mini and strip malls is the excellent homage to Thailand that is Panya Thai.

While the world is distracted by the ‘glitz and glam’ identity they think befits all of Miami, true locals know that our South Florida home is more low-key than anything else. We might have an abundance of luxuriously-designed, upscale restaurants claiming valuable real estate on the beach, Wynwood, and the Design District, but it’s in the most nondescript places that you’ll find our city’s best eats and where you’ll feel most at home. Like Panya Thai.

The no-frills locale has been open for over 17 years and a regular staple for residents near and far. Veer into the parking lot and you’ll be immediately greeted by a warm and friendly staff eager to share in the famous Thai hospitality. Everything about Panya Thai, from its uniforms to its decor, has been imported directly from the homeland–the best way to expose frequent customers to true Thai Culture from the ground up.

Whether you’re attended by the oh-so-sweet Pen (our server) or the owner and chef himself, you’ll always be attended to with brimming warmth and a smile. For those who think they know Thai food well, you’ll find many recognizable dishes like an array of curries, noodles, and rices. But for those adventurous eaters out there, relish in the fact that Panya Thai specializes in grabbing the best dishes from every Thai region and fusing them together in a wondrous, culinary bridge.

We were comforted by the creamy, seafood tom kha kai soup to start and then dug head first into a succulent plate of beef pad see ew. They surprised us with a fresh-caught diamond fish fillet stacked on top of colorful vegetables, followed by homemade coconut ice cream for a perfect exclamation point to a meal as satisfying as it gets. One thing we have to suggest is: come hungry. The Panya Thai portions are famously large and perfect for sharing, especially if you’re as indecisive when it comes to food as we are!

All photos by VACO Studio.