Where to Thai Noodle Cafe.
Why It’s in a prime location, in the old Gustazo space near Belmont’s Cushing Square, blocks from other excellent restaurants: Seta’s Mediterranean cafe, Shangri-La (for authentic Taiwanese), and Ana Sortun’s Sofra bakery and cafe.
The backstory Owner Sasirat Grande came to the United States from Bangkok in 1980, arriving first in Michigan and then coming to Massachusetts, where her brother ran Nine Tastes and Spicies restaurants in Harvard Square. She opened her own spot in Faneuil Hall, Bangkok Express, before relocating to Belmont. She first operated Tony G’s in this space, specializing in barbecue, but then switched to her native Thai food. “Thai is more exciting than barbecue,” she says.
What to eat She recommends the Thai plates, topping out at $11.95: tom zab, sweet and spicy soup spiked with cilantro and scallion; moo yang, grilled pork over sticky rice; pad krapow moo krob, crispy pork in a spicy basil sauce with onions, bell peppers, and green beans; and sour bamboo curry, red curry over pickled bamboo shoots with basil. There are also familiar standbys — pad Thai with a hint of lemon; fresh rice noodles stuffed with mixed greens, carrots, and generous heaps of avocado; marinated chicken satay with a thick peanut sauce. Specify your desired levels of spice, of which there are several, ranging from mild to three levels of fire. Much of the menu is marked as gluten-free. You’ll probably want to grab your order to go — there are a handful of tables against a window, but it’s tight.
What to drink Sip Thai iced tea or Thai iced coffee; smoothies in fun flavors (avocado, taro, lychee); and soda.
The Takeaway A welcome pit stop in a culinarily rich stretch of Belmont, with fair prices, helpful service, and spicy dishes. Just don’t expect a leisurely sit-down meal.
289 Belmont St., Belmont, 617-932-1156, www.thainoodlecafe.com