84 Thai, 979 W. State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-462-5105.
The "84" in 84 Thai refers to its location in a nothing-much strip mall on West State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale. It does have a certain utility, if not much originality; just be thankful the place isn't on Peepee Way or Little Schmuck Road. Utility, not originality, is actually a pretty fair assessment of 84 Thai itself. It's a pleasant enough space — tiny but with a sort of upscale coffee-shop look that features comfy booths with tufted leatherette upholstery, wood panel wainscoting, a mirrored half-wall, and vaguely contemporary pendant lights. The only decorative clues to its Thai-ness are a few prints and wood carvings hung opposite the mirrors. It does seem to have a local following, perhaps in part due to help-yourself stations of soup and salads, whose plundering is included in the price of an entrée at lunch. The rest of the menu lists all the usual Thai culinary suspects, at prices not much more nor less than at any other neighborhood Thai eatery. Dishes are competently done but don't display the complex, vibrant interplay of sweet-salty-spicy-savory flavors that is the glory of Thai cuisine. Pad Thai is mostly sweet; nam sod is mostly sour (though a generous portion). Red curry beef has a modest chili bite and watery coconut milk sauce; its thin slices of beef are tough. But they will fill you up.