The place: Set between Virginia Street and Holcomb Avenue, just north of Vassar Street, the green-roofed building that houses Thai Chili has plenty of windows and a ringside view of life on the edge of downtown Reno. In a town that boasts several excellent Thai restaurants, Thai Chili is a popular choice with consistently tasty food.
The look: The interior is a mixture of warm wood and gold accents. Although not fancy, the restaurant is clean. Sticky rice? Yes. Sticky tables? No. A hostess promptly greets each visitor, and the food arrives quickly.
The meal: Don't tell my boss, but I got drunk at lunchtime two times while he was on vacation -- but not so fast. I twice ordered what has become my favorite dish at Thai Chili: the No. 12, otherwise known as drunken noodles ($7.95 lunch/$8.95 dinner, $1 more for shrimp). These pan-fried rice noodles, which I order with tofu, are smothered in a rich sauce and topped with garlic, bell pepper, baby corn, broccoli, mushrooms and basil.
My friend, also a creature of gastronomic habit, orders his favorite: red curry with chicken ($6.95 lunch/$8.95 dinner, $1 more for pork, beef or shrimp).
The spicy curry (he also could have chosen yellow, green or Panang) is served in a small bowl with bamboo shoots, zucchini, bell peppers and basil, and comes with a generous scoop of rice to soak up the sauce.
All lunch specials come with soup and a curry puff.
Kudos: Entrées can be made vegetarian, or diners can choose their protein -- chicken, pork, beef or shrimp. All entrées are $1 more for pork, beef or shrimp.
Quibbles: The soup that comes with the lunch specials is a bit bland: broth with just a few tofu cubes. It's the only dish at Thai Chili that compels me to delve into the condiment jar for a drop of hot chili sauce.
Alternatives: Try the basil eggplant ($5.95 lunch/$7.95 dinner), the peanut forest ($6.95 lunch/$7.95 dinner), or the Panang curry ($6.95 lunch/$8.95 dinner).
More expensive house specialties on the dinner menu include honey duck served on a bed of spinach ($15.95) and choo chee jumbo tiger prawns ($12.95). A meal for two can still come in at $20 if you balance a specialty of the house with a regular entrée.
Return trip? Of course I'll be back. Did I mention the restaurant gives out miniature Tootsie Rolls with the check?