Living in Oregon made a significant impact on my culinary tastes. It was there that I was introduced to farm-t0-table dining, developed my addiction to coffee, became infatuated with the skills ...
Fort Collins isn’t exactly known for its ethnic eats. We have an absurd abundance of American restaurants, like pizzerias. Beyond that, we have a plethora of Mexican restaurants (which are really more Tex-Mex, than anything), and a scattering of Japanese and Asian-Fusion restaurants. The rest of the ethic cuisines are just here or there, hidden little spots that offer a respite to the cheese-laden foods we see everywhere else.
Of all of the Asian options, we seem to have a good representation of Thai restaurants. Toy’s Thai Cafe has been around for 20 years now, making them the oldest Thai restaurant in Fort Collins. Located in a small space on Laurel next to Pizza Casbah, Toy’s is the epitome of a “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant. The walls are covered with eccentric decor, like Valentine’s Day heats, photos and artwork from Thailand; and two walls plastered with photographs of people who’ve come to love the restaurant. Owners Lek and Nong are there running the place just about every single day (except Sunday), serving hungry CSU students with a quiet smile.
But, just like every other long-standing restaurant in Fort Collins, I feel they’ve been supported by friendship and nostalgia, not for the quality of the food. In fact, I feel like they are the El Burrito or the Bisetti’s of Fort Collins Thai food.
My first visit was with solid Feasting Fort Collins sponsor, Jason Speciner for a lunch catch up. It was a busy day and there were quite a few full tables. Jason decided to go for the lunch buffet. The front door lists the items served that day and it seems to change only slightly from day to day. The buffet is served by Nong, bringing out a large variety of bowls of food with no real explanation of what they are, even if you ask.
It was a Wednesday, so we were served Tom Yum soup, Sesame Chicken, Yellow Curry, Prig King Chicken, Pad Thai, and Cashew Chicken.
I ordered the Pad Thai and Thai Iced Coffee.
Overall, everything was bland, flat and tasted like day old stale boring food. There was no spice, hardly any flavor, and quite possibly some of the most mediocre Thai food I’ve ever eaten. Everything was glossed with the flavor of “blah.” The only saving grace was the Thai Iced Coffee. That was nice – not wonderful – but nice.
We left that day shrugging our shoulders about how full it was and I wasn’t quick to return for the second visit. But I did. This time I brought my kids with for dinner. They don’t have a kids’ menu (and really, that’s fine by us), so they split an entree.
They ordered the Chicken with Noodles – marinated chicken served with cucumbers, beans sprouts, lettuce and crushed peanuts, served over rice noodles with a special sauce.
The Preschooler only took a few bites, but The First Grader ate bowl after bowl after bowl. He claimed it was the best thing he’s had. I was convinced that he’s going through a growth spurt since he usually doesn’t chow down this much. Or maybe the flavor was really appealing. I took a bite and while it still had that same staleness as I ate during my lunch visit (especially the noodles), there was a bitterness from the lettuce that stood out. Maybe that’s what tickled his fancy? Either way, he loved it.
I ordered the Geang Subparod – Pineapple Curry. It was a red curry paste in coconut milk, with pineapple, lemon leaves and chicken. It also came with bell peppers, even though it wasn’t listed on the menu.
It was served in a small bowl with a side of moist, sticky rice. The curry had a little tang to it, but was otherwise as sad as everything else I had eaten previously.
There weren’t nearly as many people there for dinner as there were for lunch. It was after CSU graduation, when I’m sure a large portion of their customer base is gone. But it makes me wonder how they’ve lasted 20 years. When planning the review, there weren’t too many excited people jumping at the chance to join me. A few proclaimed their love for the place, in a nostalgic CSU-drunken-food-way. I get that. It’s cheap and it’s great at soaking up some alcohol. But, that’s about it. Other’s reminisced about the day’s when Toy ran the restaurant before retiring.
In all, they’ve fallen in to the long-standing restaurant rut, supported by a community of friendship and nostalgia. It’s a great place if you’re a broke student, or a long-timer here in The Fort, but it’s not a place for people looking for quality Thai food.
Toy’s Thai Cafe
128 West Laurel
Kid Friendly? Not particularly. No high chairs, no kids menu. Older kids can make due. Not a place for babies.
Parking: Street parking if you can find it. There is also a lot close by near the Alley Cat Cafe
Healthy Options? Many vegetarian dishes and smaller plates. No nutritional labeling.
Budget Friendly? Very, there is nothing over $8
Recent Health Inspection: Average
I’m not a morning person by any means. I’d rather be up late until the last stars shine than wake up to the rising sun. I’ve always been a night owl and even as I grow older, that’s not changing. Being a night owl means that I have missed out on the crisp freshness of a dawning day while I pull the covers over my head. I’ve missed the gentle rays of sunlight filtering through the steam of a morning cup of coffee. I would never survive as a baker, getting up before the song birds to make the dough.
So, those mornings when I am up and at ‘em for the day, bright-eyed and bushy tailed (once I get my coffee), I find those moments to be a little extra special. The air feels a little more brisk and refreshing, the flowers look a little brighter, coffee tastes a little more amazing. If there’s one way to make that experience even more special, it’s spending those soft morning moments at The Little Bird Bakeshop.
I was lucky enough to have a morning meeting at Little Bird with my fellow Scoop Blogger, Maggie, who writes Forgotten Fort Collins. We had an enlightening conversation over latte’s, scones, and quiche while the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans filled the morning air around us. We chatted about future local history posts while I took bites of fluffy, savory goat cheese and spinach quiche.
It was a lovely way to have a morning meeting, reminding me of some of the simple pleasures I miss with my late-night-tendencies. I may not be getting up to watch a sunrise any time soon, but a morning at Little Bird is a sure way to get me to join the early birds.
And if anyone can do that, they surely deserve to be the “Eat Of The Week.”
Tomorrow is the big day! The first craft beer and food truck festival in Northern Colorado is just about ready to make our weekend a great one. More breweries have jumped on board and there are now over 100 different beers being poured at the festival. Food trucks will be lined up serving everything from Hawaiian to BBQ to Hot Dogs to Gourmet Grilled Cheese (and more!).
There’s still time to get your tickets online and save yourself some standing-in-line time. You can also get tickets the day of the event. There are also options for designated drivers or those people who just want the food and not the beer (I know there are some of you out there).
Aside from this event being fun, it’s all for a great cause. All proceeds are going to the Food Bank For Larimer County.
I’ll see you there! Let me know if you plan on going, too! We’ll share a beer and a chat together!