In a city that has a Thai joint very few feet, there has to be a clincher to make you stand out and Opart Thai has the feel of an authentic Thai house (not just a hole-in-the-wall with haphazardly slung tables and fake flowers everywhere). With a beautiful slate floor, three big, bright rooms with dark wood splashes and a friendly Asian staff, Opart is a welcoming reprieve from the starkly lit, sticky floor offerings that most Thai places provide. Their clincher for me isn't the clean, welcoming vibe, though; it's the fresh, delicious food. Not that the food has a stop-me-in-my-tracks type of flavor, but the easy simplicity of the tofu pad Thai and the tofu fried rice always makes my heart pound 'til I get back in there and order up a few helpings.
The tofu pad Thai has perfect little nuggets of tofu, lightly fried and scattered over thin, glassy noodles (unlike some Thai kitchens, I feel like the chef's break up the noodles before cooking them which makes them just the right size for chopstick showmanship). Peppered with tiny slivers of scallions, crunchy bean threads and big patches of eggs (my favorite part, please donít touch the egg), it's adorned with sides of freshly grated carrot and cabbage and with a squeeze of fresh lime (and a bit of peanut sauce).
The way to go, though, is to order a side of rice with the noodles. Even though it's loaded with mostly the same ingredients (toss in a bit of onion and some crispy cucumbers), it's the sort of dish that makes you want to hurl your chopsticks, pick up a spoon and start shoveling. But make sure to share your treasures as the servings are pretty dang big.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Misty Tosh