From beef to tofu, soup to noodles, rice classics to salads, Thai food is always on the menu in Alexandria. Thai restaurants are in ample supply across the city, which makes it hard to narrow down the best options on any given day. Here are three of the city’s crown jewels.
Thai Peppers, 2018 Mount Vernon Ave.
Thai Peppers has enjoyed a lengthy residency in Del Ray, and for good reason: Its food is consistent, well-apportioned, and most importantly delicious. And over the years, the restaurant has expanded to Bristow and Haymarket, as well, extending its reach to a wider audience.
The menu runs the gamut from curry to noodles to Thai Peppers’ “Wok Corner,” and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bad apple in the bunch. Unlike some restaurants that shoehorn diners into a particular protein choice at the outset, Thai Peppers allows customers to order virtually any menu option with a choice of meat or tofu — a boon for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Some of the gems are the pad-ka-prow, a stir-fry with Thai basil and vegetables in a spicy garlic sauce, and the pa-nang curry, a red curry mixed with coconut milk and served with your protein of choice.
Sam Phao Thai Cuisine, 1019 King St.
Located between Patrick and Henry streets in Old Town, Sam Phao looks absolutely tiny at first glance. But looks are deceiving; the restaurant has a second floor with a great deal of dining room space should the few first-floor tables be taken. Sam Phao has called Old Town home for almost a decade, and within that time it has begun to shine as one of the neighborhood’s best Thai eateries.
One of Sam Phao’s most impressive dishes is its pineapple fried rice. Served with shrimp, tomatoes, egg, and vegetables, the rice dish rests neatly in a hollowed-out pineapple, causing other tables to crane their necks as the server brings it out of the kitchen. For something a bit more low-key, go with the Pad Pak entrée, a mix of meat (or tofu) with vegetables served with a light brown sauce.
Thai Lemongrass, 506 South Van Dorn St.
Tucked away in a strip mall in Alexandria’s West End, Thai Lemongrass is admittedly not much to look at from the parking lot. But diners who venture in the front door will be handsomely rewarded by good food and good service — and, since the restaurant is usually quite popular, they won’t be dining alone.
One of Thai Lemongrass’ specialties is the Paradise Curry, a red curry with shrimp, chicken and pineapple. Or enjoy the tangy tofu with ginger, which features the eponymous ingredients with mushrooms and onions in a black-bean sauce.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.