Bus: 8, 66(312) 226-6020 thaliaspice.com41.896192 -87.649119 833 W Chicago Ave (at Green St) River North, Chicago
Lunch, dinnerAverage main course: $9
Unaffiliated with this space’s former tenant Spice International, this somewhat swank new pan-Asian spot is worth a second look for its wallet-friendly lunches and creative small plates. Of the “Tastes from the sea” menu, the coconut shrimp, fried calamari and chile-spiked crab cakes stand out for their freshness and crispy texture. Fans of tom kha should try the mussels, which are steamed in a broth of coconut milk, galangal, basil and lime leaves—essentially the classic Thai soup. From the “land” menu, chicken curry with Malaysian-style roti is simple but satisfying, and the “Thalia land sampler” is an interesting mix of flavors, with juicy Vietnamese leaf-wrapped beef sausages and a creamy dip of ground chicken, peanuts and coconut milk.