Eat New England

This New Spot Has Some of the Boston Area's Best Thai Food (at Great Prices)

The little grocery store within BoonNoon Market is great for those looking for a quick snack or doing some cooking at home, but for many, the main draw here is the excellent restaurant

Food and the exterior at BoonNoon Market in Arlington, Massachusetts.

When it comes to Thai food in the Greater Boston area, it can be difficult to find a restaurant that disappoints. The vast majority serve up delicious dishes whether they’re full-service dining spots or little takeout places.

But even though most offer above-average fare, there are still different levels of quality among the countless Thai places in the region, and one of the best is also one of the newest. While BoonNoon Market is quickly gaining a great reputation among locals and those in the know, its newness keeps it as a bit of a hidden gem, but how long it stays that way is up in the air, as more and more folks discover it.

Arlington’s food scene has seen its ups and downs over the years. Long ago it was a dry town that was mostly known for its many pizza places and sub shops along with a handful of family restaurants.

Things started to change for this northwest suburb of Boston a few decades ago with the loosening of the rules on alcohol and the fact that Arlington started to become “hot” partly because of its proximity to Boston, Cambridge and Somerville. By the turn of the century, the restaurant scene really started to boom, and soon nearly every kind of cuisine became available within its borders, including Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Argentinian, Belgian and even more.

The restaurant scene has taken hits over the past few years, however – and yes, the pandemic hit Arlington’s dining spots hard as it did nearly everywhere else, leading to its fair share of few empty storefronts. East Arlington has seemed to weather the storm all right for the most part, and today there’s no shortage of food options along Massachusetts Avenue (its main thoroughfare), including BoonNoon Market, which set up shop in the spring of 2022 just east of where Mass. Ave. and Lake Street meet.

BoonNoon Market looks a lot like nearly every other storefront along Mass. Ave. between Arlington Center and the Cambridge border. This stretch of road is filled with tiny one-story businesses that are mainly differentiated by their signs out front. Because of this, it is very easy to miss the eatery, as it gets a bit buried among the numerous similar-looking restaurants and shops, and the fact that it’s still relatively new tends to keep it from standing out, too.

When the weather is warmer, there are hints of what lays inside, including the small sidewalk patio with a few metal tables set up out front. And even though BoonNoon is mainly geared for takeout, the interior has limited seating, and the “market” part of the name becomes obvious as you walk through the door – there are a variety of food and grocery items such as rice, noodles, sauces and pastes, sugarcane juice, canned goods, cutlery, cookies and more on display throughout.

Quite often, takeout spots are known for their rather gruff and surly service, but that’s certainly not the case here, as the people who run the dining spot are as warm and kind as can be, making the overall experience a great one even before taking a first bite of the food.

The little grocery store within BoonNoon Market is great for those looking for a quick snack or doing some cooking at home, but for many, the main draw here is the restaurant. For such a small place, the menu is quite extensive, with both everyday options and daily specials offered. Meat eaters, seafood lovers, and vegetarians will all be able to find something to their liking.

PHOTOS: Tip-Top Thai Takeout at Arlington's BoonNoon Market

Some of the highlights include a sublime panko-crusted lemon chicken appetizer that can be dipped into a zesty and slightly sweet lemon sauce; veggie gyoza, steamed or fried, with a rich ginger sauce; karee puffs, are also vegetarian and available with a sweet or savory filling (taro and potato curry, respectively); lox rangoon, which are filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese; spicy satay noodles with a mix of sweetness and heat coming from peanut sauce and chili oil; a classic pad Thai that comes with dry shrimp and is a perfect comfort food dish for a chilly evening; pad cha pasta with a spicy drunken sauce, typically paired with shrimp but can also available with chicken, tofu or beef; and kao pad basil, a dish that has similarities to basil fried rice at other Thai restaurants and comes with riceberry, a type of rice typically found in the northern Thailand.

Some of the specials at BoonNoon market include a green curry soup, spicy curry fish cakes, various noodle soups and black sticky rice with coconut custard on top, to name a few.

East Arlington is a bit of a treasure trove for restaurants these days, and BoonNoon Market is one of the neighborhood’s top choices, with its great takes on freshly made Thai food. Is it the best Thai restaurant in the Greater Boston area? Well, there’s definitely some tough competition out there, but the combination of delicious dishes, gracious service and wallet-friendly prices make BoonNoon very difficult to beat.

BoonNoon Market, 161 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA, 02474.

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