Cozy Noodles & Rice
1018 Davis, Evanston, IL, USA

If there's such a thing as a truly great Thai restaurant, I've yet to find it … as with Thai food itself, these places don't go out of their way to wow you. You don't take your beloved to a Thai place to propose to her. You don't go to a Thai place for your special birthday dinner. You don't get all dressed up to go to a Thai place. Rather, you get Thai food when you're in a hurry and don't want to expend the energy to cook, or to think creatively about somewhere to eat.

Cozy, though, is a Thai place worth getting a little excited about. Its presentation is actually rather hip, which you can't say for the ten million Thai restaurants that aim for "authentic" atmosphere by having hundreds of pictures of Thai rice paddies on the walls. Cozy dispenses with this idea altogether and instead has a huge collection of lunchboxes on the wall … sure, that's a little kitschy, but you don't expect it from a Thai place. It'd be like walking into a dry cleaner and hearing The Free Design playing overhead!

The oddball assortment of knick-knacks and movie posters make this a really inviting and comfortable place to eat. It's bring-your-own, but there's a good liquor store right across the street.

The food is terrific, probably the tastiest Thai in Chicagoland (well, Thai Classic on Clark Street in Lincoln Park is technically tastier, but it always gives me the runs … though it's still worth it). My faves: Crazy Noodles with tofu, Pad Kee Mao, Pad Thai, or Beef & Broccoli. But it's all really good.

Service is always fast and efficient. Many times, I will call to order carry-out, and the order is ready five years before I was born! That's some mystical shit, man. The staff is entirely cute, too.

It gets busy on weekends, but even then, there are rarely delays or serving gaffes. As with any good Thai place, Cozy is also alarmingly cheap. Plus, with the name, you can always tell someone you want to take them to "a 'cozy' little place" and then when you get there, they'll chuckle at your clever pun.

Review by Timothy Hay, April 2004