Sure, it can be intimidating to venture beyond tried-and-true dishes when you sit down at a Thai meal. You know pad thai. You like pad thai. Why not order pad thai? Well, because you can only devour so many of the peanut-y noodles before you owe it to yourself to sample a wider range of authentic dishes.
Luckily, Thai Classic in Lakeview is a bright, low-key spot that makes experimenting totally painless. Head here on the weekends for lunch or on Sunday for dinner, shell out $11.75 and you can feast on an impressive buffet of delectable eats, featuring rotating selections from its everyday menu. Even during the week, lunch specials hover around $5.50 and dinner rarely comes in at more than $10.
House specialties include gai yang (Thai barbecue chicken served with lettuce and chili sauce), Orchid Chicken (chicken stir-fried with cashews, pineapple, bell peppers and mushrooms) and Trio (a huge platter of chicken, beef and pork marinated in honey and sauteed with veggies).
The papaya, peanut and shrimp salad is the most popular of the menu's crisp, refreshing greens. There's also a long list of curries, including Jungle Curry, a flaming hot red curry with no coconut milk to tame its spice. Unlike many of its heavy-on-the-oil competitors, Thai Classic's dishes manage to be both totally lip-smacking and non-greasy.
Whether you're piling your plate high at the buffet or ordering up a feast from the menu, you can dine seated on floor cushions at a low table or grab a seat at a Western-style table. Either way, you'll have plenty of space to ease back from the table and order dessert—the homemade coffee, pineapple and coconut ice creams almost demand it.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood