Anya's Thai Bistro
Cuisine and scene: Nearly as cool as creekside dining, this new Thai restaurant situated below street level at the edge of Ashland's downtown feels like a refuge both from summer's heat and the tourist season. Food is expertly prepared, service efficiently attentive (even a tad too solicitous) and pleasant atmosphere comfortably anchored in a subterranean space within walking distance of the town's major attractions. Linger over a cup of tea at the bar-height counter overlooking the Underground Market's common space.
Recommended: House-made spring rolls are enormous with perfectly crisp layers of rice paper yielding to a light, not compacted, filling of glass noodles accented with a bit of finely diced veggies; pad thai strikes a perfect balance between sweet and savory with creamy, wok-seared tofu; sticky rice with mango is a special, seasonal dessert with generous slices of perfectly ripe mango alongside rice redolent of coconut water and thickly topped with sesame seeds.
Alternative diets: All entrees can be prepared with tofu; ask for gluten-free options.
Beverages: "Bubble" teas, smoothies, Thai-style iced tea and coffee, canned sodas and flavored mineral waters, as well as 15 types of hot tea from white peony to organic "gunpowder" green tea.
Price range: Appetizers, $4.50 to $7; soups, $5.95 to $6.95; salad, $8; lunch dishes, $9.25 to $10.75; dinner dishes, $11 to $13.50.
Extras: Dishes can be customized for preferred spiciness; street parking.
Serving: From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. weekdays, from noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to "3:30-ish" Sundays.
Info: 33 N. Third St., Ashland; 541-488-0281; www.anyasthaibistro.com.
— Sarah Lemon