The area around Santa Clara boasts a number of excellent ethnic restaurants that draw lively crowds with canny combinations of good food, intriguing decor and reasonable prices. Our culinary correspondent on the scene, Eliza Lamson, sampled five of the best.

Thaibodia Thaibodia boasts one of the best lunch deals I’ve come across at the Thai restaurants near Santa Clara University. Lunch guests choose one entree from a list of 20 dishes that can either be made with chicken, pork or tofu. The entree comes with a good bowl of soup and a plate of Thai salad, all for $7.95. The dining room is filled with smooth, dark wood tables, exotic plants and traditional Thai art. 2155 El Camino Real, Santa Clara; 408.248.8868

Krung Thai Krung Thai has been serving traditional Thai food for almost two decades. The dishes and the exotic decor come straight from owner Prapa Siripakdi’s parents’ restaurant in Thailand. From the 118-plus dishes to the antique cowbells framed on the wall, Krung Thai is the real deal. The interior of the restaurant is sophisticated, with dusty-rose paint on the walls and fresh flowers on every table. More importantly, the pad thai is some of the best around. When paired with the chicken satay and tom khah gai soup, Krung Thai is hard to beat. 580 N. Winchester Blvd.; 408. 248.3435

Siam Fine Thai Don’t let the plain walls of Siam Fine Thai deter you from sampling excellent Thai food. Located in a tiny space near Santana Row, Siam Fine Thai may not look like much but this fact is easily forgotten when one is seated and presented with some wonderful Thai dishes. The yellow curry is masterfully prepared with tofu and vegetables with a thick texture not found at most restaurants. The pad thai is also fantastic, and a squirt of the lime that accompanies it makes it a dish to be reckoned with. Quick service accompanied by many smiles makes this hole-in-the-wall restaurant a satisfying experience. 2910 Stevens Creek Blvd., San Jose; 408.246.0304

Jasmine Fine Thai A favorite of many Santa Clara University students-offers unusual takes on traditional Thai fare in an exotic and tastefully decorated setting. Despite the classy appearance and great food, Jasmine won’t put a large dent in your budget. Jasmine offers a varied wine, beer and cocktail list and many exceptional dishes, including its tom khah soup, which is perfect for sharing. Jasmine’s Miss Saigon spring rolls are also a great way to start a meal.  1211 Franklin Mall, Santa Clara; 408.246.3943

White Elephant This cute little restaurant just opened up on El Camino Real. The interior is fairly simple yet tastefully appointed. Not only does the White Elephant serve tasty traditional Thai food, it also offers delicious sushi and, surprisingly, steak and burgers. This strange mix of dishes results in a pleasant dining experience with something for everyone to enjoy. 930 El Camino Real, Santa Clara; 408.987.9373.