While I can on occasion be pleasantly surprised upon encountering a freshly remodeled or artfully decorated restaurant interior, let’s get one thing straight right now: I go out to eat to be wowed by the food, not the wallpaper. That being said, my most recent dining experience was right up my alley. A weeknight dinner at the Thai Charcoal Pit made for a great way to tune out all the distractions and just enjoy a delicious feast.
Thai Charcoal Pit is nestled in an unsuspecting and somewhat forgotten strip off to the side of the Big Lots on 7th and Junipero. When you enter the restaurant, you find yourself in the clean, compact dining room, the walls painted a surprisingly soothing bright orange. On this occasion, the restaurant was nowhere near full, so the hostess allowed us to seat ourselves. Drink orders were placed on the way to the table, and before I knew it I was pouring a Singha beer into a cold glass mug.
When it comes to making decisions about dinner, I have a major weakness. I really do want it all, and as a result I end up looking for some sort of combination plate that ties a few options together for me in a nice little bow. Thai Charcoal Pit has just such a selection, the Dinner BBQ Combo, which comes with shrimp fried rice, BBQ pork ribs, BBQ chicken, and BBQ pork strips for $9.95. The chicken is really the lead role on this plate, with two legs and a thigh basted in a delightful sweet citrus sauce. Dark meat tends to be my favorite portion of the chicken due to its moistness and flavor, and this rendition did not disappoint.
The BBQ ribs were tender, with a sweet and sour sauce that was tasty on the ribs and on my fingers but tough to get off my forehead (still working on that “food goes in your mouth” thing). The BBQ pork strips were sort of an afterthought in the whole ordeal, definitely outshined by the other two meats. I will say that it had a nice smoke flavor but beyond that it was mostly filler after finishing the chicken and ribs.
As a last thought, the service at Thai Charcoal Pit on this particular evening was a bit laissez faire at times, perhaps due to the volume of delivery orders going out the side door. Whatever the reason, it was a minor disappointment but one that did not tarnish a tasty meal at a very nice price.
Thai Charcoal Pit, 2226 E. 7th Street, 562-434-9723.
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