I count eight Thai restaurants in the Charlottesville area, which is something to celebrate in a town of this size. But none is worth celebrating as much as Lime Leaf, the delicious gem tucked away north on Route 29 in the Rio Hill Shopping Center. I get a case of food rage every year when I read “Best of C-ville” and Thai ’99 tops the Asian category yet again. I’m not sure how C-ville voters continue to prefer one of the least impressive Thai places instead of the obvious best, but I hope anyone who hasn’t yet visited Lime Leaf will make the trek north to give the true deserving Thai champion a try.
We eat at Lime Leaf a lot. A lot. And we’ve always been treated with flavorful and fresh food, competent service, and an enjoyable dining experience. The ambience is far superior to your standard strip mall Asian dining experience with nice lighting, attractive decorating, and an overall pleasant and sophisticated setting.
I’ve never had a bad dish at Lime Leaf, but some dishes are better than the rest. I like the tangy Tom Kha Gai soup (coconut milk coup with chicken, mushrooms, and galanga) to start and the other appetizers are usually good, but the entrées are what it’s all about so it’s hard to waste room elsewhere. Jed’s favorite order is the Ka Pao Fried Rice (rice, basil, scallions, and chicken), which is almost painfully spicy if you ask for Thai spicy. I’m a hopeless devotee of the Pad See Ew (wide rice noodles, broccoli, and egg in a soy-based brown sauce) with chicken and tofu. Often a greasy and heavy dish, Lime Leaf serves a delicious version that tastes healthier than anywhere else I’ve tasted, yet even more flavorful.
With all of their food, Lime Leaf uses quality, fresh ingredients and the best of Thai flavors. Factor in the reasonable portions and it feels like a fairly healthy indulgence. With this Thai triumph, we round out the triumvirate of Asian restaurant powerhouses. I think Lime Leaf (Thai), Korean House (Korean), and Taste of China (Chinese) would hold their own in any city in the U.S. Don’t you love our town?
Jed says: “Don’t let the strip-mall-across-from-Lowe’s location deter you. This is the best Thai in Charlottesville!”
Rating: Erin: Jed:
Pros: Best Thai food in town and most places, great ambience.
Cons: Strip mall location too far away from downtown.
Price: Appetizers $4-$7, Entrées $8-15.
Parking: Always available in the Rio Hill Shopping Center lot.