Bryan Schraier

The Central West End has no shortage of restaurants—so many that it's hard to keep up with all of them. One of the more recent entries on the scene is Thai 202. Located on Euclid Avenue between Lindell Boulevard and Maryland Avenue, it's easy to miss this eatery with all of the hustle and bustle in that area, but definitely well worth looking for.

Thai 202 is a diminutive space, basically a storefront with eight or so tables inside and a few more on the sidewalk in front. During peak hours, seating can be a little tight, to say the least. There's not much in the way of décor, but then, Thai 202 is much more about the food than the ambience.

We started out with two standard apps, the Crab Rangoon ($5) and the Crispy Egg Roll ($4). The rangoon—one of our comfort foods, for sure—was the usual combo of cream cheese and crab ensconced in a fried dumpling, and accompanied by some sweet-and-sour sauce; while the egg rolls consisted of shredded vegetables inside a fried wrapper with plum sauce on the side. While neither dish broke any new culinary ground, they were both flavorful and cooked well--no overdone dark bits or tough, chewy dough to contend with.

For our mains, we went in two different flavor directions. First came one of our favorites,

Pad Thai ($8), from the Stir Fried Noodles list. This Thai mainstay features a pile of tender rice noodles with some egg, bean sprouts, onion and of course, that sweet peanut sauce that is a hallmark of many dishes from the region. Thai 202's version stands up to any we've had around town. From sweet, we went to the spicy side with the Pad Ped ($10) from the Stir Fried Dishes selections. This entree is a hearty helping of bamboo shoots, green beans, peppers and onion seasoned with red curry paste. The heat of this dish was nicely tamed with a cold can of roasted coconut juice, complete with chunks of coconut. We also couldn't help but like the plastic ‘boats’ our food was served in!

It was actually tough to choose just what to try at Thai 202. For being such a small place, the menu was fairly extensive, with a good selection of curries, noodles and soups, and rice dishes, among other offerings. Size-wise, the menu is definitely the rival of many larger establishments in the St. Louis area.

Carry-out also is available, and there are smaller sizes of many dishes available for lunch, making it a great mid-day meal alternative. Good luck with street parking (it is the CWE, after all), but there is a convenient lot across the street.

Thai 202 bills itself as ‘advanced Thai Food.’ We're not sure just how advanced it is, but it's certainly tasty and affordable.

-- 235 N. Euclid Ave., 367-2002,

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