Budget Beat

Pink Pepper Thai Cuisine: Lunch $10 and Under

These days, it's tough to drive a block in this town without running into a Thai restaurant. This has us befuddled. We're constantly on the prowl for Vietnamese -- even Chinese is hard to find -- but turn the corner, and there's a Thai joint. Not that that's a bad thing. But it can be confusing. Where to go? If you're looking for a fast, quick lunch, the classic Pink Pepper Thai Cuisine is for you. The place has been around for a while, and repeat visits confirm for us that the quality is stellar. ​Just don't mind the 80s-inspired pastel decor, or the elevator jazz playing in the background.

Our recommendation is the lunch buffet, available Monday through Saturday, from 11 to 2:30. For $8.50 plus tax, you have unrestrained access to as many as 18 main dishes, spiced chicken wings, lightly battered fried vegetables, won ton chips, three kinds of salads (including the sweet house salad with pineapple dressing), and even strawberries and watermelon.

Of course there's the ever-popular Pad Thai, but we've noticed that the house favorite tends to be the Crispy Chicken in Cream Sauce. Not the best name, to be sure. But this creamy, spicy chicken, served with carrots, peppers, and onions, is hands down the golden child of the buffet. Without fail, it's the dish whose replenishment everyone in the restaurant patiently awaits like Tusken Raiders from Tatooine. Once that sweet old lady comes out with the silver bowl like an ancient bearer of the ark, veterans of the Pink Pepper buffet pounce, leaving the serving container empty in seconds flat.

Other dishes include BBQ pork, vegetable curry, sweet and spicy crispy tofu, Thai omelette, and spicy eggplant.

With the buffet, you receive a complimentary and never-ending supply of iced tea. And children 2 to 10 eat at half price.

The one problem is that you always want to get seconds and thirds.

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Marco Rodarte
Contact: Marco Rodarte