Bobby and I used to live in Thai Town and were a bit obsessed with the Thai food scene there. We met as a result of living two blocks away from each other in the small Hollywood sub-neighborhood and took advantage of being able to walk to so many great Thai places. One that seemed like the silliest was definitely our favorite, which we both had discovered independently of even meeting each other: Thai Patio.
This place is definitely silly: you walk in, there are banquet style tables everywhere, there are servers everywhere, there’s live music, there is an automatic door that releases employees and guests in and out of the patio, and everything is cheap. This can’t be good, right? Wrong: it’s soooo good. You’ve probably been going to Red Corner Asia (RCA), Hollywood Thai, Jitlada, Pink Pepper, Palm’s, or even Toi–but you need to go to them a lot less. Thai Patio is a Thai Disneyland from it’s gaudy, silly interiors to their GIGANTIC menu.
So. Let’s start from the top: starting your meal. You’re going to be overwhelmed with seven waiters asking you for a drink order, the large television on the wall, possibly sharing a communal table, and performers playing quite loudly (typically, it’s either a Justin Bieber looking woman playing guitar or a sometimes-in-drag male Thai harp player). Take a breath and order some $3 Chang or Singha or $5 wine. If you don’t want to have an alcohol, definitely opt for the slightly opulent Thai Iced Tea (best in town).
For your starter, I recommend you grabbing the sa-te chicken or shrimp cakes or calamari. All are your standard fair, yes, but one that steps above the typical fair are the Fresh Rolls. They are prepared with, you know, glass noodles and various greens, but also includes a nice touch of mango and kick ass peanut sauce. You should definitely get this stellar item to start with (since it’s super light and the entrees are quite large).
For your entrees, there is a lot (A LOT) to choose from. You can turn for the exotic and get some Wild Boar or Quail or “whole fried fish.” If you get those, you would be more daring than I. However, their “traditional” Thai dishes are made effortlessly and barely need anything added to them (so long as you don’t mess with how they prepare them and err on the chicken or tofu for your meat). Orange Chicken, Thai Fried Rice, Drunken Noodles, Patio Noodles–all great. They aren’t over the top or prepared in a way that will shock you, no: they’re prepared exactly as they say and come in portions that are quite huge.
The two dishes they have become known for as they have perfected them are the Pad See Ewe and Pad Thai. The Pad See Ewe (shown above) is the more “intensely” flavored of the two, as it is prepared in super black soy sauce. This basting process flavors the (thick) noodles in a chocolatey, almost coffee style that pairs quite splendidly with light chicken and bitter broccolini. The broccolini can be a bit much and, as the noodles are so big, prepare to take half of this home to eat for tomorrow night’s dinner.
The Pad Thai (seen above) has to be the best in town. It HAS to be. Every Thai place mentioned above, I’ve tried it: they don’t compare. They can come close, but they don’t compare. In my mind, Pad Thai is the through line for comparison at every Thai restaurant in town and the place with the best one is the best Thai place. The reason why Thai Patio’s Pad Thai stands up so strongly against the others is because, like the other dishes, it’s simply what it should be. It doesn’t try to add some crazy spice into it or overdose on the peanuts or throw cilantro and bean sprouts everywhere–no: it gives you everything equally. One thing that was formerly what made the dish but has since, for whatever reason, been removed is the lime garnish that seals the deal. When going, request your Pad Thai with a lime wedge and bless the dish with lime juice before consuming to prepare it as it was formerly prepared there. The slightly sweet sourness pairs perfectly with the cilantro which in turn pops the cilantro which clarifies the peanut, onion, and bean flavors. It’s the perfect dish: it’s totally indulgent, incredibly flavorful, and begs you to eat it all. (If you forget the lime, don’t fret: it’s still better than the rest of the places in town.)
As the menu says, the Pad Thai is their “Must Try!!” dish. It’s true: Thai Patio has the best Pad Thai and, as a result, are the best Thai restaurant in the city. Next time you want a cheap GOOD meal, head over to Thai Town for some Thai Patio. You won’t spend more than $15 dollars and you will fall in love with this weird little place. And, if you can’t get enough? They’re open until 2AM (and until 3AM on Fridays). Definitely check them out.