US Thai Cafe heats up the vegetarian dining scene

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Beware: Even the medium-heat pad Thai at US Thai Cafe is hot enough to leave a substantial tingle on your lips. But between the tofu ladna and many other menu items that can be made vegetarian and vegan, there are also options for those who don't like it hot -- plus dishes for meat-eaters and everyone in between.

See also: - Vegan pad Thai for a delectable dinner on Meatless Monday - Best Thai Hot 2011 -- US Thai - US Thai Cafe almost satisfies my craving for Laotian food

US Thai's location in a small slice of Edgewater seems like a throwback to another time, and it's relatively sleepy on Sunday, with most shops closed except for the bars airing football games. US Thai is seeing a steady trickle of business, though, even at 3:30 p.m., when most people aren't thinking about grabbing a meal.

The pad Thai here is one of the best vegetarian versions in the city, with plenty of egg and tofu mixed in with the rice noodles. Order it mild if you're a wuss; the hot at US Thai is only for the most self-punishing of diners.

The ladna is a good choice, if you'd like to take a walk on the mild side; the wide rice noodles are mixed with vegetables and tofu in a pleasant sauce. But in retrospect, we wished we'd gone for one of the curry dishes that US Thai is known for. For vegetarians, the appetizer menu has many standouts, including these giant house-made eggrolls stuffed with veggies. The papaya salad is delicious, sweet and spicy all at once -- but it does have fish sauce, so if you're not pescatarian (or willing to cheat in that direction once in a while), you'll want to skip the salad.

US Thai Cafe is open every day but Monday; for more information, call 303-233-3345 or visit http://usthaicafe.com.

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