Sep 23, 2020 | by Dan Q. Dao | Condé Nast Traveler
By the end of the war in neighboring Vietnam, Laos was the most bombed country in history. In the following decades, thousands of Laotian refugees would settle in Texas, opening wats (temples), grocery stores, and dozens of strip-mall Laotian restaurants primarily in the Dallas area. Four decades later, Dallas is a bona fide Laotian food destination—and there’s no doubt that Lao food plays a big role in its current status as a food city after sitting in the shadow of Houston and Austin for years.
For all its bold flavors, which somewhat resemble those of northeastern Thai food, Lao food in Dallas has remained uncompromised for Western palates. At Sapp Sapp in downtown Irving, for example, you'll find the most common Lao noodle soups, like fiery boat noodles and the crimson-hued, fish-based kapoon. That said, Donny Sirisavath of East Dallas’s Khao Noodle Shop and other newcomers continue to push the boundaries of what constitutes Lao—and American—cuisine. At his restaurant, the tapioca rice noodles may still be made by hand the Lao way, but tripe chicharrones are 100 percent Texan.
Looking for more? Check out first-generation mainstays like Nalinh Market, the takeout-only Sabaidee, and Saap Lao Kitchen, the beloved Laotian flash-fried jerky company run by five family members, all spread across the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.