Phoenix's Wild Thaiger restaurant has been scooping up its own die-hard fans since opening, but what of its newer sibling, Little Thaiger? Don't be fooled by the name. While it offers a more casual atmosphere for a Thai meal, there's nothing diminutive about about the flavors, nor the spices here. Just look to the Thai-Ferno Burger: a spiced-up beef patty covered in the restaurant's special sauce, which makes it one of the hottest things on the menu. Take one step down the heat pyramid and you'll find chili-basil wild boar. Another, and there's traditional pad thai in all of its rice noodle glory.
These signature dishes, like everything in the big and little Thaiger family, spring from the mind of chef Olashawn Hasadinratana-Weaver. She and her family use only seasonal ingredients and traditional marinades to distinguish their fiery Thai cuisine. Little Tahiger's location serves up these flavors at a casual counter and at a pick-up window, giving diners easy access and someone to talk to in case they're lonely. Thai iced tea, exotic drinks, and homemade desserts?including cupcakes and cookies?are also big draws, rounding out the dining experience.
The Cereal Boxx, as the name suggests, specializes in dry cereal and house-made granolas and parfaits, although the menu does contain a handful of hot food options as well. One wall features name-brand cereals filling transparent tubes like so many Augustus Gloops, with Apple Jacks, Cap'n Crunch, Kix, and Cocoa Krispies jamming the pipes, to name just a few. Try one of the pre-designed cereal selections, or assemble your own ($3.25–$5.69). Keep it healthy with the Health Nut II ($4.25), a blend of Kashi Heart to Heart, Cinnamon Life, cranberries, raisins, almonds, and pecans served with your choice of cold milk. For something more indulgent, try a blend such as Hannah's Bananas ($4.25), a bowl of bananas, maple syrup, and streusel atop oatmeal, or a parfait like The Elvis ($4.25), a blend of vanilla yogurt, peanut butter Cap'n Crunch, bananas, honey, and absolutely no gyrating hips. Complete the morning meal with coffee from the full-service espresso bar.
PaPaYa Thai Restaurant’s chicken mango curry won Best Thai Curry 2009 by Phoenix magazine. It brims with the bold, sweet, and spicy flavors of coconut milk, mango, and red-curry paste, further enhanced by sweet basil, lean chicken, and bell peppers, each shaped like a life-size Stanley Cup. It’s testament to the carefully crafted dishes typical of PaPaYa, which serves traditional dishes that alternate between sweet, sour, and salty flavors and feature no MSG. The barbecue grill adds crispiness to chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and salmon, each plated beside thai sticky rice and sides of sweet chili dip or spicy lime sauce. Most dishes can be made vegetarian on request, and PaPaYa’s attentive waiters encourage patrons to pick their preference of spiciness, ranging from mild and medium to thai hot.
Thai Basil Chandler's hanging lamps warmly illuminate Thai dishes from a classic dinner menu, such as a five-appetizer combination platter including satay chicken, fried tofu, and butterfly shrimp. Entrees slake appetites with the traditional flavors of pad thai and spicy pan-fried rice noodles. Diners can also explore a half-dozen curries, including the elusive Tim Curry and the more popular gang sapparod, awash in coconut milk, red curry, and pineapple chunks. The grilled seafood platter combines an array of oceanic eats including prawns, calamari, and scallops, each marinated in thai herbs and sidekicked with a homemade sauce. Throughout the meal, dining duos and quartets can toast to the dog's ability to microwave its own dinner with glasses of cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir.
It's hard to define the vibe at American Junkie. Is it a sports pub? Is it a dance club? A craft-beer bar? In truth, it's a bit of all of these things, with the atmosphere and activities changing from the time it opens to the closing of the doors late into the night (3 p.m.?10 p.m. on Sundays or until 4 p.m.?2 a.m. Wednesday?Saturday). Oftentimes, the cheers of sports fans ring out as they follow American Junkie's resident teams: the Seattle Seahawks and the Ohio State University Buckeyes. The 20 HD plasma TVs also beam all the major UFC, boxing, and tickle fights.
Beneath several of the screens stretches a circular bar, where bartenders mix cocktails and pour all-American spirits?including craft beers, whiskey, bourbon, and wines sourced from California. But those drinks only account one part of American Junkie's menu. The rest comes from the kitchen, where chefs bake pizzas over mesquite wood, make grilled cheese sandwiches with gouda and crisp green apple slices, and slather ribs in barbecue sauce.
Meals often begin with housemade potato chips (complete with blue cheese dressing for dipping) and end in something truly decadent: a dessert called Half Baked. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup cover a half pound of cookie dough, which is baked in a deep-dish pan.
Jasmine Cafe's globetrotting selection of Asian fare entrances taste buds with a dazzling parade of authentic Chinese, Japanese, and Thai dishes made with traditional ingredients and techniques. Treat adventurous appetites to the Chinese menu, which showcases spicy szechuan chicken ($8.50), or peruse the Japanese menu's bounty of teriyaki dishes ($11.95+) and udon noodle bowls ($7.95+). Thai selections form a delicious constellation, whose glittering stars include red-curry chicken on a crimson bed of saucy veggies ($12.95).