City dwellers have their favorite go to delivery places for those cold Friday nights when preparing dinner and leaving the house aren’t appealing. For years, Panang on Chicago Avenue was our go-to place. The menu was great, I was positively addicted to their Pad Thai, and the food always arrived quickly. Last month, on an exhausted Friday night, Charles and I debated dinner options. We were already in pajamas, and the fridge was empty since we had just returned from work trips. We immediately agreed on ordering Panang – setting a record for the fastest time we have ever agreed on anything. I excitedly hopped online to order our Panang favorites, and was heartbroken when I was greeted with a message that Panang had closed! We ordered Chinese food from across the street that night, but my Pad Thai craving wouldn’t go away. I needed a new place.
For years, I lived across the street from my office, and 8 minutes from the el (which really isn’t close enough). I had a little bubble that I never left. Last June, we moved, and are just 1 block away from the train – the city is my oyster! I can hop on the train and be anywhere in a reasonable amount of time – and without paying for a cab. The problem is, sometimes I forget that. On a recent Saturday we went on a search for Thai food along the brown line.
That’s the long story of how I discovered Andy’s Thai Kitchen. I found the restaurant on Thrillist’s map of the best restaurants next to the el, and quick research showed positive reviews online, and an enticing menu, so off we went. We hopped on the brown line since Andy’s Thai Kitchen is right beside the Wellington stop. ATK (as its sign says) is a small BYOB restaurant with about 15 tables, and awards and framed newspaper clippings covering the walls – people seriously love ATK. The parade of food coming out of the tiny kitchen was making my mouth water. Although the restaurant was full when we arrived at 7:30 on a Saturday night, we only had to wait 15 minutes for a table.
Once we were seated the attentive staff opened our bottle of wine and Charles and I read through the extensive menu. We started with the steamed pork dumplings with a thick sweet soy sauce. The dumplings were big and meaty and had far more meat than dough (isn’t it disappointing when a dumpling is mostly dough?).
We also tried the gyoza, a pan fried vegetable dumpling. The gyoza were stuffed with vegetables and then pan fried until crisp. They were served drizzled in a sweet soy sauce. I often order gyoza when I find them on a menu, and ATK’s were very good.
Charles ordered one of ATK’s specialties, the Basil Crispy Pork Belly with mushrooms, garlic, chili and white rice. The pork was indeed crispy, and loaded with spice. It was the type of spice that builds a little with each bite, it wasn’t immediately hot and spicy. Since the spice builds, you can still taste the basil and garlic. I love when the spice is there, but when it doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.
I, of course, ordered the Pad Thai because I needed to satisfy my craving. You get to pick your protein, and I chose to add chicken, and was surprised that ATK’s Pad Thai is even better than Panang’s was! The chicken was very tender, and the rice noodles were tossed in a good amount of sauce – sometimes Pad Thai can be dry, and topped with crushed peanut, egg, chicken, carrot, and bean sprouts. It had a good amount of peanut flavor, and the bean sprouts added a nice crunch.
I will definitely be returning to Andy’s Thai Kitchen. It is a great place for a low key date night, and it is very inexpensive. Our dinner for two was just $37! Since ATK is small, it might not be the best place for groups. They do takeout too.
Andy’s Thai Kitchen is located at 946 West Wellington Street, right beside the Wellington brown line stop in Lakeview. And, don’t forget to BYOB!
Erin's Inside Job
Thursday 23rd of April 2015
I'll have to check this out! I had awful Thai not too long ago and it made me sad. I have been having a problem with things being way too oily too when they come out. I just want lots of spice and to not have my food drenched in oily sauce. Oh, and mango sticky rice--the best part of any Thai meal.
Thursday 23rd of April 2015
I'm not a huge Thai fan because it always seems so spicy but those dishes all look great. It would be fun to do an el restaurant crawl or something.