For 16 years, Thai Peppers fueled curry-crazy locals and hungry workers from Mercy Hospital across the street. Late last year, Thai Peppers closed its doors only to reopen a few weeks later as Thai Basil (1411 E Sunshine St., Springfield; 417-882-1979) under the ownership of Paneda Zelaya. Zelaya grew up working at Thai Peppers when it was owned by her parents. Now that it’s her own, she’s putting her stamp on the unassuming eatery.
The menu, mostly a holdover from Thai Peppers, is full of quintessential Thai offerings, like mango curry, cabbage spring rolls, tamarind duck and classic noodle dishes. Look for peeks of Zelaya introducing the flavors of her childhood. The restaurant’s BYOB policy (no corkage fee) still stands, but new inventive specials rotate on weekends.
For a sweet touch, try the yellow curry made with pineapple for a multifaceted veggie-filled dish. Or stick to theme and order the basil entree—how could you not at a restaurant called Thai Basil? Order it with nicely crisped tofu that soaks up the dish’s light yet funky garlic chili sauce. Appetizer dishes like the crab Rangoon or the fried spring rolls are well considered, with crispy shells encompassing soft fillings and accompanied by tangy, acidic sauces. With friendly, personal service; great value meals and familiar flavors, Thai Basil is well worth a stop for lunch or dinner.