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Restaurants & Bars 4

Thai @ Kedzie and Lawrence

joel | Jun 20, 200312:48 AM

I wanted to remind everyone of a wonderful place that's been making Thai food consistently well for over 20 years. All that time Thai Little Home Cafe has been run by a single family, in the same location, where else but at the epicenter of Kedzie and Lawrence.
It is just north of Andy's Fruit Market and across the street from the Middle Eastern bakery (Al Khayaim?)

Admittedly, the menu at Thai Little Home is stuck in an '80s time warp, so nothing will seem unfamiliar. What I love about this place though is the care and attention the owners put in. And while some of the dishes might seem a little "tired", there are a couple which are so good that I am willing to offer a "Gary's guarantee" of $3.95 to anyone not satisfied.

Specifically one appetizer, and one main course: First, the shrimp toast. Who would've thunk a deep fried concoction of bread and shrimp could be so sublime? Second, the whole, deep-fried red snapper in hot pepper sauce. My 10th grade Latin teacher taught me that superlatives weaken rather than strengthen one's writing, but I'm compelled to say that this may be the best fish in Chicago, and I say it every time I'm there. Both of these dishes follow the simple "maximum mouth satisfaction rule" of being crunchy on the outside, and tender and succulent on the inside. And the hot pepper sauce ought to be hot enough to satisfy the capsaicin macho contingent on the board.

A few other things on the menu can also be worthwhile. Both chicken and pork satays are nicely grilled with an above-average peanut sauce, and I like the Lad Nar for no other reason than that they will fry the rice noodles crispy on request. A simple plate of lightly cooked mixed vegetables usually rounds out my order.

In the fifteen years that I've been going to Thai Little Home, I've only had one meal which was slightly off, and I know why. While the staff is young, the older husband and wife usually do all the cooking and must be in the kitchen. Usually ONE of them is sitting at the table right by the hallway to the kitchen, and the OTHER is cooking. The husband is slightly bald and spectacled and easy to recognize, she is less easy to describe. If one of them is seated at the table, you are fine; if BOTH are out of the kitchen, your meal will be good but not great.

TLH is very kid-friendly (order a plate of fried wonton for them,) and is also a member of a select group of restaurants I refer to as the "Chicago's Safest Restaurant Association," because there are always cops eating there. C.f. my review of Luc Thang, on Ashland, also a proud member of the C.S.R.A.


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