The List: Hot Cafe
For years my Thai restaurant loyalty has been for Little Bangkok on Cheshire Bridge in Atlanta. Everywhere else I tried was just "meh" - inoffensively boring and predictable. I'm inordinately picky about pad thai, I want perfectly sticky sticky rice, and please have authentic green papaya salad! So when you tell me you know "this great Thai place," please forgive me if my eyes glaze over."
Therefore I bring a great deal of skepticism to the Thai restaurant on The List, Hot Cafe. However, since the location is so convenient to the airport, one day when I landed just before lunch time, I hit the Riverdale Road spot. The place definitely fits the definition of "a dive."
Still, I've been told never to judge a book by its cover, so I soldiered on! This turned out to be a good call. Hot Cafe serves Thai and Lao food and the recommended dish is a Lao dried beef jerky.
Get thee to Hot Cafe! Imagine your favorite version of slightly sweet beef (hints of the Chinese Mongolian Beef) dried to perfection. Soooooo tasty. Love at first bite! These finds are the reason I tackle the list! Such fun!
Because I was there, I ventured off the list and tried one of my favorites, the papaya salad (Som Tam). This should be a staple order for you if you enjoy heat with your meals. The papaya isn't the oblong fruit you find a Publix - this dish is made from the NON-sweet, green papaya used for savoy dishes. The dish has tomatoes, chilies, and dried shrimp (or crab). I thoroughly enjoyed Hot Cafe's version. Finally, the sticky rice. I hate to admit this, but I enjoyed Hot Cafe's sticky rice more than Little Bangkok (gasp!). The individual rice grains held together perfectly no matter how wet. I dipped the rice into the excess liquid of the papaya salad until the grains were dripping wet. Such delight!!
The next time your travels take you to the airport during business hours, definitely make the trek to Hot Cafe!