It happens at the same time every winter, but it always feels like a shock. Supatra’s Thai Cuisine, located at 967 West 7th Street in St. Paul, locks the doors, turns off the lights, and a posts a sign in the window that strikes fear and hunger into the hearts the entire staff of The Growler: “Supatra’s Thai will be closed from December until January.”
The horror. It means no pad kee mao, with its spicy noodles and aromatic Thai basil. No pad Thai, with its perfect peanut crunch. No spicy green curry to keep us warm on the coldest days.
It may not sound like the end of the world—it’s just a month and St. Paul has plenty of other fine lunch spots. But it just so happens that The Growler editorial staff has developed something of a dependency on Supatra’s. Countless issues have been published, articles edited, and photos taken by our Supatra’s-fueled editorial team. This magazine perpetually runs on tom yum and papaya salad.
Chef and co-owner Supatra Johnson was born and raised in the northeast region of Thailand, and came to the United States in 1989.
She got her start in cooking back in Thailand working at restaurants in Bangkok. After moving to Minnesota she opened The Jasmine Market, an Asian grocery store in Burnsville. Customers interested in how to use the ingredients sold in her store prompted her to start teaching cooking classes in Thai cuisine.
The popularity of these classes led her and husband Randy Johnson to take things a step further, publishing the Thai cookbook, “Crying Tiger: Thai Recipes from the Heart,” in 2004. Later that year, the Johnsons opened the first Supatra’s Thai Cuisine in St. Paul’s Lowertown, eventually relocating to its current West 7th Street space after their lease ended. The restaurant features cuisine from northeast Thailand, an area of the country known for spicier cuisine.
Photos by Kevin Kramer, The Growler
These spicy dishes are exactly what we at The Growler long for most during the annual hiatus. With heavy sighs, we’ve crossed off the last 32 days of our calendars, but now we’ve finally made it to the other side of the long, dark tunnel of a Supatra-less existence.
On Wednesday, January 25 at 11am, the lights at Supatra’s Thai Cuisine will flicker on, the doors will be unlocked, and we will once again taste the sweet, spicy, savory flavors of our favorite Thai restaurant.
In 2016, we decided to track our visits to Supatra’s to see just how much we loved our neighborhood Thai restaurant.
The Growler’s 2016 Intake of Supatra’s Thai Cuisine (by the numbers)
The total number of individual dishes ordered by The Growler staff
The average weekly visits to Supatra from a Growler staff member
The top three most ordered dishes
- Pad Kee Mao, 52 orders
- Egg Rolls, 24 orders
- Green Curry, 16 orders
The most number of visits in a year
- Joseph Alton, Editor-in-Chief, 50 visits
- Brian Kaufenberg, Managing Editor, 23 visits
- John Garland, Senior Editor, 15 visits
Most consistent diner (by entree)
- John Garland, 87% – Pad Kee Mao
- Brian Kaufenberg, 77% – Pad Kee Mao
- Keith Grauman, 75% – Green Curry
Least expensive order of the year
- Keith Grauman, Side of Rice, $1.00
Most adventurous diner award
- Joseph Alton, 16 menu items ordered in a year
- #3 Spring Rolls
- #20 Tom Yum
- #21 Thai Noodle Soup
- #25 Som Tum Papaya Salad
- #59 Crying Tiger
- #60 Grilled Chicken Gai Yang Udon
- #65 Thai Fried Rice
- #72 Pad Thai
- #97 Thai Iced Coffee
- L1 Egg Rolls
- L4 Green Curry
- L5 Thai Stir-Fry with Potato
- L6 Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry
- L8 Spicy Noodles
- L9 Crispy Rice Noodle Salad
- L10 Grilled Chicken Combo