Tara Thai Charlottesville Review

We tried the new Tara Thai at Barracks Rd this weekend and were completely disappointed with the food. The soup we ordered was lukewarm (not even close to hot). When we complained, they heated it up for us in a microwave for a few minutes. After that it was ok and decent tasting.

The food we ordered was all cold too. We could hear them cooking it and we were sitting about 10 feet from the kitchen so it can’t have become cold in transit. Maybe they just stir fry stuff and dump in cold readymade sauce? and maybe they don’t stir fry long enough for the vegetables to become hot? After complaining again and being served microwave heated food, the temperature was ok. Still not hot but tolerable. Even the fried Tofu was cold. I’ve never had fried tofu cold in a dish before. Taste wise the food was mediocre and the dish I ordered was overly fishy. I threw away the leftovers because when I heated them up later at home they smelled bad. All in all a bad experience. I’ll stick with Thai 99 on JPA and Lemongrass at the corner for good Thai food.

Tara Thai on Urbanspoon

14 thoughts on “Tara Thai Charlottesville Review

  1. Derek says:

    My wife and I went to Tara Thai on Friday. The service was good and we very much enjoyed the food. No problems with the food not being hot. Our only problem was that we were seated near the front door, which was not a double door arrangement, and we got the arctic blast whenver someone held the door open for more than a moment.

  2. Jenee Libby says:

    Thai ’99 #2 up Route 29 is *way* better. Bigger portions, it’s hot :0) and the food there just plain tastes better. Worth the trip.

  3. Al says:

    That’s too bad about Tara Thai. I’m still going to try it once before ruling it out. It would be good if you could update this post to include what dishes you ordered. Before I give up on a Thai restaurant, I like to try their Pad Thai, Drunken Noodle (Pad Kee Mao), Massaman Curry, tom kha gai, and tom yum.

    Also, I have to disagree with the idea of getting good Thai food at Thai 99 (JPA) or Lemongrass. I’ve been to both several times, and neither is good, IMO. Thai 99 is mediocre but okay in a pinch, but Lemongrass has been completely inadequate every time. The texture of the ingredients is very important in Thai cuisine, and every dish from Lemongrass has been a soggy mess.

    The best Thai food in Charlottesville is without a doubt Pad Thai, on Carlton Rd east of the Downtown Mall — next to Beer Run if that helps. The decor is pretty sparse, but the food is awesome and inexpensive. It is family run, they use high quality ingredients, and the food is more authentic than most places, from what my Thai friend tells me. Strangely, I don’t really like their pad thai though many do, and their curries are good but not great. However, their drunken noodle is outstanding. And their “Thai beef noodle bowl” is the best I’ve had. Mmm, I’m getting hungry.

    Runner up is Lime Leaf in the Rio Hill shopping center. It used to be better, but I still go there occasionally, if I’m on that side of town. The ambience is nice, and the prices are reasonable. It’s certainly better than Thai 99 or Lemongrass.


  4. ead says:

    So, all in all a poor replacement for the predictable, but always good, Casella’s?

    Alas, I have been in Charlottesville long enough to remember BRSC when it wasn’t so hoity toity. Such is the trend in our pretentious little hamlet.

  5. Sidd says:

    Jenee, I’ve always found the Thai 99 on JPA to be better than the one on 29. The food is more consistent in spiciness, there are no rats and during lunch you get ruam mit as dessert instead of ice cream

  6. Sidd says:

    Al, I ordered Kapow Jae, Parchayi ordered Green Curry, her mom ordered some chicken dish that was not Kapow but looked identical to kapow.

    Parchayi and me ordered Tom Kha soup and her mom ordered Tom Yum.

    All six dishes were warm. The soups were decent and the food was mediocre.

    Also I’m not a fan of Pad Thai on Carlton at all. They are very stingy 🙂

    And Lime Leaf is in no way better than Thai 99 (JPA, not 29) and Lemongrass. I have always found their food too salty. I tried it twice because a lot of people seem to like it.

  7. Nitin says:

    Just wanted to post a disappointing note about Tara Thai in Charlottesville. We ordered tofu pad thai take-out from the vegetarian menu, as we are vegetarians. The dish clearly was completely doused with fish sauce. Because we do not eat fish, we had to throw it away. I complained about this, but was brushed aside as having “miscommunicated” my desire not to have fish sauce in my vegetarian dish! So be aware: vegetarian dishes contain fish sauce unless you explicitly ask for them not to use it. I was excited about a new Thai restaurant closer to the center of town, but am afraid that I cannot go back after this very disappointing experience.

  8. cjdumler says:

    My experience was similar, and I likely won’t be going here again when there are so many better Thai restaurants in C’ville. The food was very slow even though there was no one else in the restaurant; the coffee was too weak (and they messed up the French press); the spring rolls were cooked too much; the vegetable fried rice too little. The wait staff was friendly enough, but that doesn’t really make up for the rest of the experience. Thai ’99 all the way.

  9. Brendan says:

    Tara Thai is the best Thai restaurant in CVille!

    I’ve been twice, once ordered Beef Kapow, “thai spicey” and once with Beef Panang Curry, again as hot as they would give me. Both dishes were fabulous and better prepared than any other place here, Thai 99, Downtown, Lemongrass, Lime Leaf. It’s kind of hard for me to say that TT is the new best, especially because the family from Thai 99 knows me so well from being such a frequent customer the past 4 years, and Lime Leaf is very delicious, just a bit out of the way for me. Lemongrass and Downtown have never competed for quality and taste, in my opinion.

    You also can’t beat $7 16oz drinks at TT!!

  10. Liz says:

    Some people are a bit ridiculous in their personal expectations for Thai food. Fish sauce is a major ingredient in South Asian cuisine and you should probably explain this when ordering if it’s going to be a problem for you. Also, you need to be a little adventurous when eating ethnic food (i.e. in Rome, do as the Romans). There is nothing more obnoxious than an American that wants ethnic food to be American.

    That being said, Tara Thai is pretty good Thai food. I’ve had several dishes there and they have all been good, not amazing, but flavorful and satisfying. By far, the most authentic Thai restaurant in C’ville is the Lime Leaf. Their ingredients are the freshest, their staff is always lovely and the decor is unique. It’s a bit of drive north of town, but definitely worth the trip.

  11. Tony says:

    I’ve only been to two Thai restaurants in my entire life. It’s a new food to me and I must say I’ve enjoied it very much. I went with a friend to Pad Thai on Carlton Rd. and had their drunken noodles. Needless to say, they were AMAZING. If you’re looking for a hot dish, this is the one. I don’t know how those noodles maintain their heat for that long!

    The following week, I went with this same friend (who I was making my official Thai food buddy) to Tara Thai. It was a first experience there for both of us. The decor is quite nice and they have a very nicely stocked bar. Those aspects seem to match the direction the entire Barracks Road area is heading. Now, on to the important thing, the food. My friend had this deep sea thing and I ordered the staple of Thai cousine, Pad Thai. His food smelled absolutely delicious and when i sampled it, it tasted perfect. The spice was right on. The only think I didn’t like was the portion, not to mention that his included 4 muscles, of which only 2 had anything in them. My food, however, was so bland. Now, I’m new to Thai food and this was my first sampling of Pad Thai. I just expeced there to be a totally disinguising flavor that would make me think “This is the food of the entirity of Thailand” and make me feel like I was sitting in Bangkok. There was also emphasis on the garnish, especially in the Deep Sea meal, which made it look like a lot of food, but was really quite small for what was paid for.

    Long story short, some items on their menu can be qite nice and very tasteful, however (and I’m not sure if this is just how that dish is supposed to taste… and I’m afraid of trying it again) I definitely don’t recommend their Pad Thai. Also, they’re a bit pricy compared to others. Maybe I should try the Charlottesville Thai tradition that is Thai 99. They’ve been around since I was a small child it seems so I’m sure they’re doing something right!

  12. Matt says:

    I agree with Liz – some of your expetations are over-the-top.

    My fiance and I love Tara Thai, and have done take out and dined in about a dozen or more times. Maybe it just suits our tastes more so than some of the complainers here, but we love the Pad Thai and the Pad See Ew (sp?) with beef. I also am a fan of thier curries.

    Not to mention they also have excellent customer service. The first time we ate there the owner happened to be there and he stopped at our table to see how we were doing. The mananger is also extremely friendly and wants to make the customer happy.

    TT is our pick over the other thai restaraunts in town we’ve tried (Downtown Thai, Thai 99 #1, Lime Leaf (slooowwww service at lunch), and we haven’t tried the one by Beer Run yet).

  13. pinny says:

    i have been there all the time, the food were good test, good portion ,
    the bar was cool. all the waitress were nice. it make me feel like chill
    when I’ve been there. recommended to everyone : )
    PS. their new patio is look cute to me.

  14. Sidd says:

    After all the positive comments here for Tara Thai, we gave it a second chance. This time we didn’t have the issues with cold food or anything. But I would call the food itself just ok and slightly overpriced. I’d still drive all the way to Fontaine and eat at Thai 99 especially for lunch because they have soup + spring roll + dish with a decent amount of food + ruam mit i.e. the really nice dessert.

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