1466 Garden of the Gods Road, #148, 598-0980, eimthai.com
We can argue to no end over who has the best Pad Thai, or where the go-to Massaman curry spot is. But one element of Arharn Thai — EIM's older sister on Powers Boulevard — that I immediately loved is that it introduced dishes we hadn't seen prior, locally. Items like Pad Thai Ho Kai, which places the favorite noodles in an egg purse. EIM, with a similar mission to educate, has since introduced us to kai jeew, a Thai-style omelet, plus newbies like Thai stuffed chicken wings.
Still, when you crave Pad Thai ($8.20), that's all you want. And last year at this time I'd crowned Arharn supreme during a four-eatery food-fight, so hitting EIM for the same dish seemed like a guaranteed bet. Indeed, it still is, ordered medium, this time with chicken. It's light and balanced between sweet and heat. Follow it with scoops of insanely good house ice creams ($2.40 each): a crystalline coconut with peanuts and more- milky mango dusted in sugar. — MS
King's Chef Diner
131 E. Bijou St., 636-5010, cosdiner.com
Though raised here, I am a green chile heretic, having first cut my teeth on the stuff in New Mexico. But Indy readers have crowned this downtown standby the king of green chile for seven years running. Well, let it never be said the Indy shied away from iconoclasm.
The open-faced green chile cheeseburger ($11.54 with fries) is served smothered with a shredded cheese blend. Any bun that holds up to this much sauce is laudable. The patty may be well-done, but the chilies cover for any dryness. Compared to gold-standard Hatch chilies, the Pueblo peppers here lead more fruity than earthy. They're damn fine peppers, but not enough to sway my heart's allegiance. The heavy cheese atop clashes a little with the berry brightness, though the sauce does make the good, organic, Denver-made ketchup seem inferior with the heavily seasoned fries. Bottomless coffee ($2.75) remains diner-appropriate with a no-nuance dark-roasted flavor. — GS
Peak Place Coffeehouse
2360 Montebello Square Drive, 445-1050, peakplacecoffeehouse.com
It's a Tuesday night and Peak Place is mobbed — I'm not sure if it's for the Christian folk act, mid-refrain on something about Jesus as I walk in, or if this is testament to the outfit's market penetration into the northeast of town inside two short years. Either way, I like the bustling energy and to see baristas backed up six orders deep, even if it means a 10-minute wait for my coffee.
I pass time chatting with GM Vinnie Snyder, who's responsible for changing up the beans, leaving behind Colorado Coffee Merchants (widely served locally) in favor of other specialty roasters in the region, including Denver's Corvus Coffee. Corvus' Columbian decaf informs my excellent cappuccino ($3.50) poured to 8 instead of 12 ounces, for more of a macchiato effect that allows the coffee to shine. A Progressive Paleo coconut macaroon ($2) pairs nicely, but a dried-to-a-crumble slice of spiced fruit quick bread ($3) from Bella's sponges all moisture from my mouth. — MS