Penny's Noodle Shop serves as an example to other Pan-Asian newcomers. Locations include Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown and Oak Park, and seats are full any time, day or night. Thai restaurants in Chicago are nothing new, but Penny's is cleaner than most of the competition. The starkness of the restaurant is a perfect setting for a health, non-smoking environment.
Specialties include pad thai, of course, a succulent choice with egg, bean sprouts, green onion and ground peanuts garnished with red cabbage, ground beef sprouts and cilantro. Chicken, beef or tofu don't add an extra cent to the $6.40. At the same price is pad se eu, also with egg, broccoli and chicken, beef or tofu.
Lad nar is well liked, with broccoli, carrots and ginger in a light gravy served over crispy pan-fried wide rice noodles and chicken beef or tofu. The entrees never have an off day and, if the feel isn't quite as Bangkok-like as some of its competitors, Penny's Noodles makes up for it in its cleanliness and steadily phenomenal service. BYOB.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Robin Wright