My favorite place to eat in Merced. Good portions and very cheap prices. Love the Pad Thai. There's even a spicy level from 1-10. Sam is a hit with everyone it seems like he remembers everyone's name and what they're up to. Now Sam even has free WiFi!
I absolutely love Sam Cafe for Thai food in Merced. There aren't many good restaurants here but Sam comes through every time. Great variety of dishes and flavors. The soups are generously filling. The Pad Thai is the best I've ever had outside of SF or LA. The curry dishes are delicious.
I've gone to Strings once and had a terrible time.
I took a date that had a broken foot and we waited outside for 15 minutes when there were over 20% of the tables available. When I asked why this was, the host explained it was "just how they ran the business". Well wouldn't it make sense to give us a table since there was no line and clearly she was on crutches and her leg in a cast? They were dumbfounded. Then I asked, well couldn't we just make reservations? No. Strings has a policy of not making reservations for only 2, only 4 or more people. We left without being seated. I called and spoke to the manager, he offered a discount if we came back. There are too many good restaurants to spend any time or money at Strings in Merced.
CONS: Arbitrary Wait, No Waiting Area, No Reservations, Bad Host