I've only seen a couple of postings on this board with regard to Tao Cafe on 22nd and Guerrero, and most of them are negative.
I have been to Tao Cafe three times since they opened (it's not near my neighborhood) and have enjoyed it every time. Most recently I went with my girlfriend this weekend.
The service is always warm and friendly, although that may be easy since it is always almost empty. Last night was no exception; when we arrived, there was only one other party eating and we asked to be seated at a four-person table next to the window, no problem.
As we sat down we were immediately presented with their pickled root vegetables (carrot and ... burdock?) and homemade chips.
We were wanting light fare, which I think Tao excels at. To start we ordered the Cha Gio Chay (imperial rolls of root vegetables, shiitake & tofu). The rolls were piping hot, crispy inside and out, and not too greasy. For dinner we shared an order of Goi Muc (warm salad w/calamari, black eyed peas in tomato rice vinegar dressing) and the claypot of tofu (with wood-ear, soybean threads and zucchini in basil-turmeric-coconut sauce). The tofu was braised firm but had absorbed enough of the sauce to satisfy. The calimari salad was light and balanced. Everything was spiced just slightly; enough heat to enhance the overall flavor, but not spicy in general.
Total cost, including a couple of '33s', was about $35, an excellent deal.
I really like Tao for its light fare, relaxed atmosphere. I've been there with vegetarian friends who were very appreciative of the variety -- i think there are six or seven different tofu dishes. I'm surprised that local chowhounds are so negative. Having never been to Slanted Door, maybe i'm just missing out on the Really Good Stuff.
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