Nicky’s Thai Kitchen is collecting so many honors from City Paper’s readers that it’s getting hard to keep track: Best Thai Restaurant since 2011; Best Downtown Lunch Spot in 2017; and Best Restaurant (North) this year. General manager David Brunner thinks intense flavors keep people satisfied.
“We always have new specials every month and authentic Thai dishes with amazing flavors,” Brunner says. “The only kind of food we don’t serve is bland.”
Two of Nicky’s three restaurants have amazing patios that are another big draw. At the North Side and North Hills locations, an outdoor-seating area is completed with authentic Thai art and tropical greenery. The North Side patio whisks patrons away to a scene from Bangkok. That patio is covered with a translucent roof and filled with ferns, vines, and a tranquil fountain.
“People really enjoy going out on the patio,” Brunner says. “It’s definitely a point of interest. You go from walking on Western Avenue, and then it opens up like a secret oasis on the North Side.”
It’s an oasis inspired by an owner’s authentic love for Thai landscaping and design. In fact, Nicky’s art is from Thailand, which requires approval by the Thai government.
“One of Nicky’s hobbies and interest is in horticulture and landscaping, he really gets into it,” Brunner says of the restaurants’ namesake. “He really enjoys Thai art. It makes for a really pleasant dining experience.”
Brunner suggests diners try the papaya or glass-noodle salads while enjoying fresh air as part of patio dining. The larb salad, a Northern Thai-inspired dish, is also best enjoyed al fresco. (Fresh herbs really take the larb salad to the next level.)
At the North Hills Nicky’s location, along Mt. Nebo Road, diners can drink fresh-fruit smoothies. Coconut, mango, and watermelon are a few options. For adventurous adults, smoothies can be mixed with rum or tequila.
The teams at Nicky’s are pleased to have maintained popularity through the years.
“We are just really happy to provide something unique to Pittsburgh,” Brunner says. “We really enjoy all our neighbors and guests. And we have a really good team and that is what makes our success possible.”
And seriously, people shouldn't forget about the patios. “All those little aspects from the art, the good food, and the outdoor space that is unique,” Brunner says. “It all adds to the whole experience.”