Just off the main drag on a residential block in Elmhurst, Pata Cafe is a tidy and convivial haunt run by a mother-daughter team. Planks and beams of unfinished wood along with light fixtures crafted from old soup cans lend to this space a treehouse-cum-workshop vibe. No matter—as all of it simply adds to the overall warmth.
Skip the bodega items for sale and scan the short, sweet menu. There is a keen eye for textures, acidity and electric heat here. Order a bowl of tom yum goong with its clear broth and sinus-clearing spice, before slurping up minced chicken-topped glass noodles dressed with a lime-fish sauce. Ga prao kai dow (beef with chili) certainly isn’t anything novel, but fans of this familiar dish will relish the classic rendition on offer here.