Jon and I live in an historic neighborhood near Lakeside Park, just east of downtown Fort Wayne. Some call it the North Anthony neighborhood or the Northside neighborhood, others simply Lakeside. Jon and I have dubbed it the ’05 (pronounced oh-five) and love it like a dear friend. We can’t imagine living anywhere else, and because we care about our neighborhood and the quality of life of those who live there, we get excited when a new restaurant opens.In early 2011, we were thrilled when Los Portales opened on East State, occupying a space that had been vacant for a few years. It was a family-owned Mexican restaurant that made its own tortillas and served superb horchatas. We thought it had real staying power, but, sadly, it closed not even a year after opening. Luckily, the space didn’t stay empty for long. Pad Thai, coined as fine Thai and Burmese cuisine, opened in the space in late 2012.
Pad Thai’s atmosphere is quaint and comfortable enough for a strip mall establishment. The new owners have done a nice job transforming it. The menu isn’t extensive, but it does offer a variety of traditional Thai dishes, including the ever-popular Pad Thai. Want to know the best part? The menu contains pictures of most of the dishes, so those who aren’t familiar with Thai and Burmese cuisine can get a preview of what to expect before ordering. On my first visit, I chose the dish that looked the best: Thai Beef Noodle Soup ($6.95). Jon opted for Pad Thai with tofu ($7.95).
The Thai Beef Noodle Soup was fabulous – full of thinly sliced beef, rice noodles, cilantro, scallions and bok choy. The broth was extremely flavorful with a hint of cinnamon giving it a heated, sweet taste. The dish also contained balls of fish, which I did not care for, but they were easy to eat around. This is the type of dish I crave on chilly autumn nights.
Jon’s dish measured up to classic Pad Thai dishes we’ve had at other Thai places in town. He especially enjoyed the extras available at the table – peanuts, pickled jalapeños and red chili – which let him make his dish as spicy as he likes.
Since our first trip to Pad Thai earlier this year, we’ve added it to our regular carry-out rotation and have fallen in love with Thai Grilled Pork with tamarind sauce ($7.99). It’s a simple dish containing pork and rice, but the sauce makes it exquisite. Tamarind is a sticky brown pulp from the pod of a tree in the pea family and is used often in Asian cooking. In this case, it’s mixed with fish sauce and scallions for a savory and tangy finish. The pork is served over sticky white rice that complements it well.
Pad Thai is a welcome addition to the ’05 neighborhood. Though seating is limited, it’s a great place for a family lunch or dinner and even better for date night. Add it to your list of must-try restaurants. We’ve yet to have a dish we don’t like.
Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.