With a name like Latitude Thai, one could be forgiven for thinking that this restaurant’s location is the most important parameter of its identity. Well, situated a few blocks north of Rose, on Lincoln Boulevard in the southern sphere of Santa Monica, Latitude’s latitude is, at least from a longitude inclusive perspective, not that much to write home about. However, if fresh, tasty, and reasonably priced Thai cuisine, set in smart surroundings, is your primary concern, then a note of appreciation may well be the order of the day.
My culinary traveler joined me this past weekend as we made the short trek down Lincoln Boulevard to visit this medium-sized Asian eatery for a relaxed early evening dinner. We were well impressed with the flavors, service, and comfortable ambience of this recently opened addition to Santa Monica’s colorful culinary mosaic.
The menu here is standard Thai cuisine, with such favorites as Mee Krob (sweet crispy noodles with shrimp, green onions, and bean sprouts, $6), green papaya salad (shredded green papaya, carrot, tomato, ground peanuts, green beans, garlic, lime, and Thai dressing, $6), Pad Thai (rice noodles with chicken and prawns, egg, tofu, bean sprouts, green onions, and chili powder, topped with ground peanuts, $7), and the expected host of Thai curries, including chicken red curry, chicken green curry, and an amber-toned curry called Gaeng Pa rounding off this traffic light trio of spicy Asian curry colors.
A good yardstick of any Thai menu is the flavor and quality of that classic appetizer, chicken Satay (chicken skewers with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, $6), and this location’s example was well up to par. Tender and browned chicken strips, dipped in a rich peanut sauce, and tempered with a fresh cucumber salad, it certainly set a good taste standard for the evening’s proceedings.
Next up were the entrées. We chose the Param Long Song (bedding with mixed steamed vegetables of spinach, carrots, green onions, and peanut sauce with a choice of chicken, pork, beef, or tofu for $7, prawns for $9) and the aforementioned Gaeng Pa (mixed vegetables, rhizome, and Thai basil, again available with a choice of meats at $8 or prawns for $9).
Our server, a most congenial Asian chap named Mike, arrived dutifully in no time at all bearing our rather delightfully presented dishes with a smile, and also a cool Thai iced tea.
The food was hot and attractive, and my Gaeng Pa with the tofu option was generous and flavorsome, with a dry musky quality, without coconut milk unlike the other curry options.
The Param Long Song was also well presented, but, as it turned out, either the “bed” of vegetables was more of the thin futon variety, or the prawns had been hungry vegetarians, because the spinach, carrots, and green onions had made more of a token “walk on” (or, walk off) appearance than had been expected from the script, given that a somewhat sparse quantity was served on this visit.
That being said, the six very large, juicy, and tender prawns were a delight, and, dipped into one of the tastiest peanut sauces to be had, went a good way in compensating for the lack of veggies.
Accompanied with a side order of brown rice ($2), these dishes were tasty and flavorsome, and I will definitely add Latitude Thai to my list of good options in Santa Monica.
Oh, by the way, Latitude Thai is located at latitude 34°1’ N, longitude 118°29’ W, which translates to 2906 Lincoln Boulevard. The phone number is 310.396.4726.