Chile peppers arrived in Thailand in the 16th century from the Americas via Portuguese traders. To say the Thai people took to them is an understatement. They now grow more than 75 varieties in the Southeast Asian country, including some that reach six figures on the Scoville scale.
The central role of chile peppers in Thai cuisine is on full display at Pad Thai Café in the International District. Chile fires the curries and stir-fries; it insinuates itself into the chopped-meat salad called laab. The heat smolders on the tongue long after the meal is done.
The restaurant opened in 2015 across from the entrance to Talin Market in the aptly named International District around Louisiana and Central. Along with Pad Thai Café, the block is home to four Vietnamese restaurants, a couple of Mexican places and an Indian market.