Picnic Supplies: Courtesy of Mae Phim Thai Pike (213 Pike St.), ginger chicken + soft drink = $7.95.
Walking It Out: Mae Phim's original location on Columbia has been a lunchtime hotspot for years now, so I was curious about their new Pike Street location, which is only about two blocks from Westlake Park (and may I just say, one of the only places in a five-block radius that isn't a Starbucks).
Their ginger chicken -- my Thai standby -- is okay but not great. A few too many mushrooms, not quite enough chicken, and a decided lack of subtlety in the spices. What is great is that all their entrees cost $5.95, and each one is big enough for two. To prove it, I ended up stuck by myself on the picnic, but still had enough to share with the sweet old homeless lady that sat down next to me when I couldn't eat any more.
And let me tell you, she was far from the only homeless person around to eat my leftovers, Westlake Park being smack in the middle of downtown. Along with having plenty of shopping spots around to spend that money you saved picnicking on the cheap, it's also a popular al fresco dining spot for all and sundry -- I had some trouble finding a good place to sit. The shade under a stand of trees was taken up by a large group of twentysomethings with blue hair and black clothing, the benches had an even mix of parent-child combos and sleeping bums, and the steps across from Westlake Center were taken by older guys who probably own motorcycles. I opted for a seat by the fountain, and just enjoyed the people-watching.
It was actually getting on the sticky side outdoors, so I very nearly sat in the middle of the walkway that runs through the inside of the fountain. However, I decided to leave that to the couple who stopped to make out there.