Family-run restaurants are rare in the tourist area of Sevierville, but a Thai family running an authentic restaurant here was unprecedented prior to 2012. That’s the year Thai Basil arrived, fundamentally altering the perception of international cuisine in the city. The owners of this eatery show profound pride in their business, importing ingredients from all over the world in order to guarantee that the Thai flavors accurately reflect their culture.
The restaurant cares so much about what it does that they’ve posted a mission statement on the front page of their site. It notes the loving detail shown in daily meal preparations, as the staff cuts and chops for hours in preparation for the lunch and dinner rushes. Make no mistake: you will face a rush here. Thai Basil isn’t a secret in Sevierville. It’s one of the most popular dining options among locals.
Reviews of Thai Basil are almost euphoric. Guests gush about the ambience, cleanliness, and inclusiveness of the eatery. They also gleefully recite their meal choices and describe the quality of each dish. A recent tourist notes that they wound up eating here five times in seven days. That’s how much the person loved the food. East Tennessee is an unlikely location for world-class Thai food, but Thai Basil offers it anyway.
The correct answer is “all of it,” but locals rave about these dishes slightly more than the rest:
- Crab Meat Cheese Rolls – These are deep-fried rolls stuffed with imitation crab meat and cream cheese. You may think the ingredients are too simple, but you’ll change your mind after one bite.
- Ocean’s 5 – The cheeky name isn’t just a movie reference. It also reflects the five different seafood items in the meal. You get imitation crab meat, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and squid.
- Rama Curry – The restaurant steams the spinach ahead of service to guarantee freshness. Then, they add a coconut and curry peanut sauce to provide a wallop of flavor. As curries go, this one is creamy rather than hot, and I’ve found I prefer that.
- Pad Prik Stir Fry – It’s bell peppers plus stir-fried peppers slathered in a house sauce. You’ll lose your mind over this one.
- Due to the stiff tourist competition in the area, many restaurants offer discount deals. You’ll find them in marketing brochures in entertainment centers and hotel lobbies. Since Thai Basil’s prices are good already, they aren’t as liberal with coupons. You can still find some, though.
- Since this restaurant is family-owned and operated, they occasionally close shop for multiple days, usually around the holidays. They recently closed four days for Christmas, four days for Memorial Day, and two days for July 4th. If you’re traveling for a holiday, check their Twitter feed for store closure information.
- A Home Depot and a Lowe’s are both near the restaurant. This can lead to odd lunch-time rushes at off-hours. If you’re planning to eat a late lunch, understand that you could show up at the wrong time and regret it. Since the locals love the place so much, eating at the normal lunch hour is safest.