Thai Square – Arlington

25 07 2011

 “Marge, this is Thai food.  From now on, I want it morning, noon, and night. ” – Homer Simpsons

Thai Square

Do not let the plain exterior fool you

Thai restaurants are like opinions, everyone’s got one. Some people though are willing to change their opinions, when presented with a better argument while others are stuck in their ways. Thai Square is the latest and greatest restaurant in Gchat’s rotation, so we figured it had to be worth our time. Thai Square is tucked into a small strip on Columbia Pike and driving by it, you could miss it a thousand times (I’ve only driven by it once a week for 4 months).

TS Interior

In the words of Outkast, "So Fresh and So Clean"

Unlike Tiananmen, Thai Square can best be described as cozy. When we entered there was only one available table of four. Another quick I noted upon entering the restaurant was how many Asian patrons there were (always a good sign). After perusing their beer selection I ordered a Singha Lager for my meal. Being the copy cats that they are, Spikes and Gchat followed suit. I forgot how good pale lagers are until a weeks ago when I had a can of Sapporo. The crispness offered by these beers is just perfect during the heat of summer (it was 102 that day). The waitress brought the beers with what appeared to be midget pilsner glasses which vaguely resembled egg cups. The Singha was a pretty typical Asian-produced lager, but that’s okay as I generally enjoy them. If I did have my choice though, I would probably take a Sapporo over the Singha though.

SB

Good enough for the King of Thailand, good enough for me

For dinner I ordered the Roasted Duck in Red Curry Sauce. My several most recent Thai orders have consisted of some form of curry, so when I saw the duck, it was a no-brainer. Spikes had ordered the Pad Thai Jae (vegetarian) and Gchat the Yellow Curry, both of which looked delicious.

Duck

Yes Sir, Mr. Ducksworth.

I generally enjoy curry’s with a sweet component as it adds an extra depth of flavor and helps smooth out the heat of the dish. The coconut milk often found in Thai curries usually accomplishes this goal, adding an overall sweetness that was contrasted by the burst of sweetness caused when you ate one of the pineapple chunks. The depth and diversity of the sweet flavors of this dish was great, but at times it overpowered the heat of the curry causing the dish to not be as hot as I desired. I didn’t specify how spicy I wanted the curry to be as I assumed it would be spicy enough for me, however next time I’ll probably ask that they don’t dull the heat down to American levels. The duck, where do I start with the duck? Oh yeah, succulent. It just fell apart in your mouth and achieved the perfect tenderness before starting to fall apart and be stringy. Duck is one of those foods where every time I eat it I think to myself, “Why don’t I eat this more often?”, but then never really act on it. I would definitely think about ordering this again, but if I did I would definitely ask them to make it spicier to even out the heat versus the sweet.

While I’ll probably still use my neighborhood Thai restaurant for carry out due to the convenience factor, I’d rather go to Thai Square for a sit-in meal. The food was excellent and priced reasonably well, the decor was clean and simple, and the service was satisfactory; all important components in an enjoyable dining experience. I would rate the service higher but it took a while for us to get the bill which was odd considering how fast the food arrived at our table.

Note: The only image used in this review that is my own is the Singha Beer. Clicking on the other images will take you to the original source.

Thai Square Website

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District Taco – Arlington

30 03 2011

“You had me at taco.” – Taco Bell Sauce Packet

District Taco Exterior

Where did the Little Caesars go?

District Taco began life as a simple taco truck roaming the streets of Arlington. They mainly cater to lunchtime business customers in high density commercial areas (Crystal City, Rosslyn, etc.) But this past fall they opened up a brick and mortar establishment on Lee Highway (near Joe’s Pizza and Pasta). I knew about the taco truck and how good it was, as well as the opening of the Lee Highway location, but like many things in life I just kept putting it off. I don’t know the reason for my aversion, I like tacos, I like federal districts, what’s the problem? Anyways I finally went to District Taco with LGF and Brewdib and immediately regretted not going sooner.  This place is awesome.

DT Interior
Where’s the HFCS?

The interior set up at District Taco is pretty standard for a casual dining/semi-fast food restaurant. One notable exception though is the Boylan’s fountain soda machine. Boylan’s is a New Jersey based soda company, that unlike the larger soda conglomerates still uses cane sugar as its primary sweetener rather than the ubiquitous High Fructose Corn Syrup. There’s also a rather awesome salsa and condiments bar.

Tacos

Not my tacos, but I wish they were

I ordered two chicken tacos with black beans, jalapenos, and cheese. In the time it took me to find a seat and place my jacket and drink down the tacos were ready. I then went to the salsa bar, loaded them up with chopped onions and various salsas and was good to go. The quality of the chicken used was surprisingly good and you could really taste the fact that it was grilled (unlike Chipotle). I was also surprised at how much two tacos filled me up, but as you can see in the picture above you can stuff a lot into a taco. One of my friends got the habanero salsa (not available at the salsa bar, must be requested at the counter) and I poured a bunch on my second taco. This salsa is no joke, if you love spicy food I highly suggest it. (Note: Habanero salsa is excellent for giving to unsuspecting people that don’t like spicy things).

I highly suggest you go to District Taco and give them your business. Good food, good prices ($5 will get you two tacos and a water cup), and you’re supporting an independent establishment. The following day I went to Chipotle for lunch and honestly after District Taco I was disappointed by the subpar quality of the food and was wishing I had gone to District instead. Also District Taco will be doing sidewalk vending at Nationals games, as well as continuing to run the original taco truck.

Note: The images used in this review are not my own. Clicking on them will take you to the original source.

District Taco Website

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