I give mad respect and props to Mr. Tony Hseih (pronounced Shay) of Zappos for his downtown project in helping to give it a facelift – so much so – that when I happened to end up standing next to him at The Four Season’s valet, I was unable to even speak. Rather than embarrass myself with some awkward greeting, I thought it best to just act cool and pretend that I didn’t have any idea who this guy was standing next to me.
One of the DTLV hotspots that has been consistently getting foodie buzz is Le Thai, a small hole-in-the-wall spot down the street from Container Park, which has a fun, hip feel to it. The inside portion of the restaurant has very limited seating, but the back patio has the most seating, and this shaded area, as long as the sun isn’t in full effect, makes for a very comfortable outdoor eating atmosphere. If you happen to visit the place at peak dining hours, be prepared to be in line for a wait. Le Thai is notorious for long wait times. Their walk-up window to the bar does help to make the wait a bit more bearable. If you were looking to avoid the lines, I’d recommend dining during the off-hours, or do as I like to do, visit during happy hour. Not only do they have great prices on a few of their popular appetizers, but you can get $3 bottles of Stella, along with other deals on their alcoholic libations. It also times out well to dine on the patio as dusk falls, as the temperatures cool down and the twinkling lights of Fremont Street start to wake up, ready for their nightly performance.
The interior is a refreshing departure from other establishments that are just a few steps down the road. Sitting on the patio, you could be in any city, and it is a welcome respite from the rest of the Fremont Street Experience (pun intended). It should come as no surprise to you that the $3 Stella was my first order, followed by their Thai Pork Jerky, and their Waterfall Beef. The Pork Jerky is a tasty, chewy and briny burst to your taste buds, served alongside their signature Waterfall Sauce and a colorful basket of steamed (very sticky) rice. This is generally so good, that when I visit, we end up getting two orders of this addictive dish. Their Waterfall Beef is melting tender bits of red meat covered with their Waterfall Sauce, along with extra sauce on the side, and yes, more of that sticky rice – so good. Their Spring Rolls are crispy, without an overly greasy taste to them, and are something I would recommend trying, as they are a big standout, compared to other rolls I’ve tried. The only thing that I’ve sampled there that didn’t warrant a reorder was their version of Chicken Satay. The Peanut Sauce served with the Chicken was full of flavor, but its partner on the plate was not, and I really prefer my Satays to be thinner slices of meat on a stick, and this was thicker than usual and lacking in seasoning. Their noodle dishes are all prepared really well and are part of my usual order when I visit here. The only dishes that I haven’t sampled, because the weather was a bit warm the few times I’ve been there, are their Thai Soups. I’ve heard that they make very authentic versions, and I must sample them on the next visit, once the weather cools. It’s fun to go with a group and enjoy the atmosphere, while sharing the many unique dishes. Other standouts are their signature 3-Color Curry, and Short Rib Fried Rice.
Chef Dan Coughlin has created a cozy, fun escape that holds true to his mother and grandmother’s Thai heritage. It’s no wonder this little spot has garnered such a following. It is Thai food made with care, and the flavors really show that. Dan has also succeeded in putting together a great staff that is attentive and ready to make your dining experience the best it can be.
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