Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Hyde Park Users Guide to South Loop: Opart Thai House

posted by chicago pop

The happy truth of the matter is, South Loop isn't just for groceries anymore.

In the space of time -- less, actually -- that it's taken Hyde Parkers to deep six The Point, to mothball Doctors Hospital, and to even get the ball rolling on a possible redevelopment of Harper Court, a city-within-a-city has arisen on the skeleton of boulevards that frames Chicago's historic heart.

As recently as 5 years ago, when the old boulevards of Indiana, Prairie, State, Wabash and Michigan were being decked out with new high-rises seemingly every week, there was barely a Subway sandwich shop to be found. The whole area had the potential, so it seemed, to go awry in the way that Jane Jacobs argued is most likely when large concentrations of urban development are built at once.

But that doesn't appear to have happened. Now, together with a bustling China Town and Bridgeport, Greater South Loop and the Near South Side offer an increasing variety of attractions for South Siders. To highlight that fact -- and to make life more interesting to Hyde Parkers while we sit out the development deep-freeze in our own neighborhood -- we offer you this and subsequent installments of A Hyde Park Users Guide to South Loop.

Opart Thai House

We visited this place on South State Street a few weeks ago after an event at Columbia College. Located on the ground floor of a new building, we were able to park around the corner and immediately get a seat on a Friday night. This is a third location for Opart, and from what we've heard from those who have tried both of its Chicago locations, it is superior to the original at Western and Lawrence.

Short take: a decent neighborhood Thai place with authentic and flavorful food.

Eggplant in Oyster Sauce with Basil and Tofu

If you're used to Thai from the folks on 55th St., it does a world of good to get out and calibrate what's on offer elsewhere in the City. The eggplant in the dish above was properly cooked and softened enough to absorb the seasonings and eliminate any fibrousness. The tofu was not battered and only lightly pan fried, which helps preserve its flavor and smooth texture. Simple achievements, but as with so many urban Thai or Chinese restaurants, not always ones bothered with.

Gaeng Panang Curry

Opart is a clean, modern space, and is quite tastefully appointed and decorated for a restaurant operating in the range of $7 to $9 entrees, making it competitive with 55th Street.

Overall, Opart Thai House is the best Thai experience available to Hyde Park from within a striking distance of about 5 miles. Check it out.

And, it's worth noting, the bathrooms are clean, brand new, and built for use.

Opart Thai House
1906 S. State Street

Sun.-Thurs. 11:00am-10:00pm
Fri.-Sat. 11:00am-11:00pm


Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I eat there all the time. FYI, the parking lot in back of the building is free and available for Opart customers. Park and walk in the back door.

cv said...

The Gaeng Panang Curry tastes great! love it..thanks for sharing this with me!

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