There’s a charming grotto now out behind the ever-expanding collection of food trucks at 502 Old Santa Fe Trail, across from the Capitol. It’s a lovely place for a takeout box of noodles from Bo’s Authentic Thai, which had its grand opening Oct. 19.

And if the weather’s frigid, there’s probably no simpler delight than sitting in your car and sipping the hot, tangy coconut broth of tom kha soup right from the container.

But if you can bear to wait, taking these Thai dishes home and sliding them onto your prettiest plates elevates the culinary artistry at play.

Simply put, they’re gorgeous.

Owner Sasitorn Prakod, who goes by Bo, works with her team (Chanisada and Pornsiri, who go by Da and Pookie) to create a rich roster of popular Thai items and personal picks. These are helpfully denoted on the menu, which features icons for gluten-free, “our favorite” and heat (spicy drunken noodles, while not on the menu, are available on request). The half-dozen entrées (all $12.95) can be made with chicken, vegetables or tofu, or shrimp or beef for $2 more.

“I picked the famous dishes, what people know and like,” said Prakod, “as well as some of my favorites.” So traditional American choices like Thai iced tea, spring rolls and pad Thai have a place on the menu next to two different curries, a Thai-style fried rice and pad see ew, stir-fried flat rice noodles with soy sauce, broccoli, carrots and scrambled eggs.

There’s an invigorating, densely flavorful papaya salad available only on Fridays ($9.95) that somehow juggles sweetness, tanginess, spice, the bite of garlic and subtle notes of fish sauce and dried shrimp. And the truck offers a weekly special — previous choices have included sticky rice with custard, drunken noodles, massaman curry and larb, a tangy Thai salad made with ground meat and fresh herbs.

So far, both curries — green and panang — and the pad Thai have been bestsellers, though the truck has seen more orders for the fried rice and soup as the weather has cooled.

Prakod was born in Thailand and came to America in 2010 to study English as a second language. She’s been cooking since she was young, inspired by her mother, who sells barbecue and Thai breakfasts.

“There are many Thai restaurants in Santa Fe, but no food trucks, so I saw the opportunity to do this,” said Prakod, who moved here with family in 2019.

The food truck — and the location — is a natural fit for the many state government workers and businesspeople who walk over for a weekday lunch. The truck is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. (Call about 15 to 20 minutes before you’re ready to pick up, unless you want to wait while everything is made to order.)

I’ve eaten plenty of takeout at my office desk or in my car during my life, but I was lucky enough to be able to bring home an order from Bo’s one recent Friday. Back at the house, I slid everything onto white plates that showed off every detail of the food’s warm palate of golden browns with pops of red, orange and green.

Carefully sliced mushrooms and cilantro floated to the top of my bowl of tom kha soup. Delicate fingers of still-crisp spring rolls fanned out around a small container of orange sweet-sour dipping sauce. The pad see ew’s wide, soft noodles and tender chicken came dressed up with artfully cut carrots, small crowns of broccoli, pockets of scrambled egg and an eye-catching dusting of pepper. A similarly thoughtful array of veggies framed a generous serving of jasmine rice stir fried in a Bangkok-style brown sauce; the warm, nutty panang curry, poured atop a bed of rice, surrounded a mound of large cubes of tofu and spears of green and red bell pepper.

All the dishes embodied the complex qualities of Thai food, pairing contrasting tastes and textures in endlessly craveable combinations. And I’m not sure there’s anything prettier — or tastier — than a sweet, creamy Thai iced tea served alongside a meal like these or all on its own.

That’s the magic of dishes this pleasing to the eye and the palate: It doesn’t matter if they’re served from a food truck window, on a dining room table, eaten from a simple box on your lunch break or reheated and plated on delicate china for a romantic dinner for two. The meal, however you enjoy it, is its own reward.

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