Traditional Thai — done correctly

Talay Thai is a traditional Thai restaurant in all the good ways. Its best dishes are curries and noodles, its weaker dishes are the Chinese-food options, and no matter what you get, it’ll go well with a tall glass of Thai Iced Tea.

For what Talay Thai seeks to accomplish as an alternative to the overcrowded and expensive cafeterias of Longworth and Rayburn, the restaurant excels. While service may be a bit slow, once an order is placed, the dishes come out quickly, hot and piled high. The prices during lunch are more than reasonable — almost every plate falls between $8 and $10 — simply because the sheer amount of food in most dishes will either leave you stuffed or walking back to work with leftovers, or both.

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It’s tough to mess up Pad Thai, the flagship noodle dish of every Anglicized Thai restaurant, and Talay Thai’s offering doesn’t disappoint. Bean sprouts, scallions, crushed peanuts and egg mix in with the thin noodles extremely well, and the dish is served with an orange on the side for extra flavor.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for the Panang curry with either chicken or beef. Its purplish hue may appear less than appetizing at first glance, but once you dig in, the mild flavors of coconut milk and white rice complementing the curry and meat will delight your palate.

Inside, the décor is pleasing, with dark walls, numerous elephant ornaments and a shrine to Buddha behind the bar. It can get a bit crowded during the lunch rush, but outdoor seating doubles the number of tables available and provides a great dining option on warm summer days.

This year marks Talay Thai’s 10-year anniversary at 406 First St. SE, just down the hill from the Capitol South Metro. The location makes it a viable lunch option for anybody working in the House office buildings, but the walk can be longer from the Capitol or Senate office buildings. Regardless, the outdoor seating and large portions make the trek worthwhile. And if you’re in a rush, delivery (for orders greater than $15) and takeout are available as well.