Go Now: Phat Thai

January 2012

Though most Denverites are likely just discovering chef Mark Fischer's cuisine at Phat Thai in Cherry Creek, he's already built a mini empire in the Roaring Fork Valley. It began in 1998 with Six89 in Carbondale. A couple years later he opened Phat Thai down the street, and then the Pullman (which was recently named a Best New Restaurant by Esquire) in Glenwood Springs last year. Along the way, Fischer has been a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Southwest award several times over.

And, as of three weeks ago, he's brought his flavorful interpretation of Thai food to Denver. The space (formerly Wolfgang Puck Express) is breezy and modern—and dishes follow suit. Don't come looking for spot-on, authentic Thai food (as proof, there's fried chicken on the menu). Do arrive expecting a robust combination of the country's telltale salty-sweet-hot-sour flavors in the form of curries, noodle dishes, and soups.

Top of the list is the goat curry (pictured). (So happy am I to see lean goat making it onto local menus—and getting a nod in Saveur's annual top 100 list.) Punctuated with sweet potato, cardamom, and lemongrass, the mellow meat practically melts into the slightly spicy coconut sauce. Ask for a side of the dessert-like coconut rice and discover your new comfort food.

Of note: The pad see ew—my go-to Thai noodle dish—was fresh and light, but it lacked the rich and satisfying umami flavors I crave. Likewise, the requisitely tangy larb gai needed more chile to make it pop. But based on my experience at Phat Thai in Carbondale, I suspect that any timid flavoring will be quickly corrected.

2900 E. Second Ave., 303-388-7428