God knows there’s no shortage of Thai restaurants in this city. But ones with character, sleek design, ambience—heck, any kind of design scheme? We’ll take more of those, please. Chalk one up to Naam, the newish joint tucked in Madrona’s darling strip of storefronts, for realizing interior can stimulate just as much as four-star-spicy som tam.
Here cushy beds with triangular lumbar pillows line the window wells and take the place of traditional tables. Don’t worry, they’re not of the we’re-in-the-club, Sex and the City–type, but rather cozily re-create the Thai way of eating. A narrow snack bar divides the drinkers from the diners—if the beds are occupied, this is where you want to sit. Though the table space is tight, so much so you bump ’bows with yours truly, it’s great for conversation. Not to mention the ideal spot to catch rousing whiffs from the nearby kitchen.
Slick wood paneling and plush oversized banquettes further the mod and clean styling. Taken as a whole it’s the perfect stage to showcase Naam’s vibrant food, which, given the swank surrounds, is surprisingly down-to-earth and cheap. About three-fourths of the menu is $9.95 or less, and you’re hard-pressed to find a dish costing more than $13. House cocktails are $7, glasses of wine average the same, and beer, $3.75. If you’re in the mood for noodles, try the kee mao, though it’s best with meat and not tofu. The yellow curry also comes highly recommended.
All this yet Naam never loses sight of the down-home charms—an all-too-hospitable (and adorable) wait staff, menus with a bagillion options—that make Thai restaurants so lovable. Looks like Naam has found a winning combo.