OK, tough guy, you've met your match. We know you wouldn't think of ordering anything less than extra-hot on the spice-o-meter, but unless you want to cry like a tiny man-girl in front of your dinner companion, you're going to stick to mild when you dish up at Thai Café. The atmosphere at this downtown Asian eatery is a little funky-purple, yellow and orange walls lit up with torchieres billowing with tissue paper "fire" and a fake fruit basket packed with enough pungent plastic to wrinkle your nose as you walk in the door-but spicy curries and noodle dishes are taken seriously. Soups and salads are also hot tickets (literally), but there are plenty of stir-fry dishes with more flavor than bite. Sticking to mild spice also allows a less-than-seasoned Thai palate to enjoy sensual combinations that could be lost under too much heat, like curry with pineapple or carrots in a lime dressing. If you've just got to prove that chile runs in your veins, try the pad prik khing-it's green beans, lime leaves, red peppers and jalapeños, all stir-fried in a lip-stinging red curry with the usual choice of tofu, chicken, pork, beef or shrimp. Freaks of nature have the option of rolling with a shrimp-scallop-squid medley. While chasing it all with an ice-cold Singha is mmm-mmmn good, stick to Thai iced tea or some homemade coconut ice cream to provide a welcome chill. There's no MSG used and all dishes can be prepared to suit serious vegetarians.
329 W. San Francisco St., 982-3886. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Friday. $