Just got back from my trip to DC yesterday...we had some good meals in the midst of our busy, short stay, and I just wanted to say a BIG thank you to the hounds for suggestionmg one of the best: our early dinner at Thai Square! It was definitely better than any Thai food I have yet to find in the SF bay area, and I dont find it hard to believe at all that it is the best in the District and nearby...
It wasnt quite as good as my gold standard, Lotus of Siam in Vegas, but then, I've yet to find better than LOS (haven't been to Thailand yet though :-))
My only complaints:
First, the Chowhound who said it was a mile or so away from our hotel was wrong, more like three and a half miles, and a surprisingly pricy cab ride. Oh well, it was well worth it! (We thought about trying to figure out the bus coming home, but it was a bit hot that day, and an air conditioned cab came by while we were studying the bus map....:-))
Second, service seemed distracted, even though (perhaps because?) we arrived very, very early (it was really a late lunch for us on west coast time) and thus were the only patrons at four p.m. (and it was great for our busy schedule that they are open all day!). Dishes came out promptly, but the servers were efficient but not particularly friendly, and they didnt do a good job of clearing between courses
Third, the mango with sticky rice for dessert was not good: the mango wasnt ripe at all, and we didnt finish it. Even though my sister Janet of Reno reports having had a less than perfect mango at Lotus of Siam lately, I am sure they never would have served this one!! Indeed, I've rarely tasted a more tasteless mango...
Ok, so that is it for the complaints, got them out of the way. Now on to the reasons that this place will definitely be on my list for future trips to DC!
First of all: ambiance: the description some of you gave of this place as bare bones left me expecting less than we got: it actually has a nice, bistro-like feel, with white tablecloths, flowers, etc. Very pleasant, and tables are nicely spaced.
Food: I was with my college-aged daughter, who loves Thai food and yet is nonetheless a somewhat picky eater (she doesnt eat pork at all, dislikes red meat in general, doesnt like her food extremely spicy, and isnt terribly fond of shellfish other than shrimp). So, our choices were somewhat less adventurous than I would have otherwise chosen, and yet all were extremely well prepared: to me, this is the sign of a great restaurant, that even the standards are delicious.
Chicken satay. Jessica insisted on this, her favorite, and it was actually very good. Spicier than most versions, good peanut sauce to go with, nicely grilled.
Papaya salad: we ordered all of our dishes medium, but for some reason this was the spiciest dish we had. Jessica pronounced it both delicious and very spicy. I thought it was an excellent version: fresh, tasty, a great blend of flavors.
Scallops, prawns and squid with peppers in basil sauce (Pad Gra Prow Talay): Jess ate around everything but the prawns, but that was ok, more scallops for me! The seafood was all very fresh, nice blend of spicy and sweet flavors, squid was very tender.
Red curry chicken: another rather common dish, but it is Jessicas favorite and her standard for judging a Thai place. She took one bite and pronounced it the best red curry she had ever eaten! I am inclined to agree: the difference was the chicken itself, which was really full of flavor in that way that chicken so rarely is
All of the above plus steamed rice, the mango with sticky rice for dessert, and Thai ice teas was around $55 with tax and tip. We were stuffed until midnight or so, and then still had enough food left over for a midnight snack :-)
Bottom line: I cant wait to go back, hopefully next time with an eater willing to explore a broader range of the menu! Thanks to the DC hounds for the tip...I probably would not have gone this far into the suburbs without your encouragement, and would have missed out!
3217 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204