Ian Froeb's STL 100 (2018 archive)

Photo by Robert Cohen (Post-Dispatch)

Rice Thai Bistro

How did Bryan and Nina Prapaisilpa fit a few more tables into Rice Thai Bistro, which already occupied the sort of cramped strip-mall storefront usually reserved for rare-coin dealers and the world’s last living VCR technician? They gave up precious kitchen space. I cringed, learning this, but needn’t have worried. The reduced kitchen size hasn’t affected the unshowy elegance of the Prapaisilpas’ cooking. Curries, stir fries and other familiar dishes unfold in layers of hot, sour, sweet and funky that are all the more dazzling for being so precisely measured. More tables at Rice Thai Bistro really mean fewer excuses not to try the restaurant.

Hours: Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday (closed Monday)

Last year's ranking: Rest of the Best

Opened: 2014

Must order: Green curry ($8.95 lunch, $10.95 dinner)