By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
Spice is a Thai chain here in New York City and, while I’ve been to several, this review is specifically in regards to the East 13th Street location in Union Square. This location is the first Spice I’d been to when I ventured in with some friends about four years ago. It has since become a staple in the list of restaurants I frequent.
Spice offers a lunch menu from 11:30am to 3:30pm and, frankly, it’s hard to beat. The lunch menu includes about 30 entrees to choose from (not counting 4 different kinds of curry) and each entree comes with a choice of an appetizer from a list of about 10 appetizers.
While I wish I could say I spend most of my time at Spice during the lunch hours, I’ve only been able to do lunch a few times. Instead, I often dine at Spice for dinner and choose from an even more extensive menu.
My favorite Thai dishes in general are Pad Thai and Red Curry, which are both fairly traditional and offered at most Thai restaurants. Spice tackles both dishes quite well, but most of their other dishes are far more adventurous, so I try to branch out from time to time. Instead of ordering Pad Thai, I’ll sometimes go for the Seafood Spaghetti Drunk Man, which is also a noodle dish but contains egg noodles, shrimp, scallops, crab meat, calamari, ground pork, chili, basil, and peppers. Next time, I intend to try the Crispy Half Chicken: curried rice, egg, onion, cashews, and sweet chili sauce.
Spice also boasts a full bar and a list of tropical specialty cocktails including a variety of mojitos, a mango margarita, a strawberry martini, and the Fig Cooler (fig-infused vodka, lemon juice, guava juice, and a lemon wheel garnish), which is my personal favorite.
In part because of the restaurant’s success and in part because of this specific location, Spice in Union Square is an enormous space. The ground floor holds the kitchen, plenty of dining tables, and the full bar. Upstairs is a lofty dining area overlooking the ground floor and above that is the all-new rooftop dining section.
Spice feels both swanky because of the dim lighting and the gigantic, illuminated Buddha wall and casual because of its loose environment. The wait staff is attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable. The food comes out fast, but I’ve not felt rushed.
This is a popular restaurant, however, and booking a reservation is highly recommended. It can be difficult to get a table without waiting on any given night of the week and the bar is usually too full to guarantee a seat. Even without a reservation, Spice is worth the wait.