Diamonds in Da' Burg: Not your average gas station food

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By: Dominic Gavan
When someone tells you they want to go to a gas station for dinner, it’s usually easier to stop them right there and tell them that you don’t want an intestinal disaster. However, a certain Liberty gas station has a diamond that shines incredibly bright: Thai Pan, an exception among stereotypical gas station food. They do not serve cold tacos or expired pizza; they serve authentic Thai cuisine that is at the caliber of a 4 star casual dress restaurant.
From the moment you walk in, you are confronted with two things: one is very eye appeasing décor, and the second is a see-through door to the gas station that Thai Pan is located inside of. The Thai furniture and trees give Thai Pan a very welcoming vibe, as the light red paint on the walls gets you ready for the warmth of the food that is soon to come. No matter where you sit in the restaurant, you will always see the gas station door, but for me that is never a negative. It just quietly reminds me of how odd it is to find a place like this in a gas station.
Atmosphere is one thing, but what really does it for me in a restaurant is the service. My first experience with Thai Pan was in the winter of ’09 during the white-out. Three of my friends and I took shelter in the restaurant just to get out of the blistering cold. I had never heard of this new Thai restaurant, so my friends and I peeked our heads in just to see what it was like, and we were met with free food and sodas with no assumption of us giving the restaurant business. Every time I have gone since then I have always been greeted with free samples or free drinks. When you sit down and eat with Thai Pan you are almost always guaranteed a free sample of the deliciously sweet Thai Tea.
The food is just the icing on a very tucked away cake in Leesburg. This restaurant has all of the stereotypical Thai cuisine such as Thai Noodles, Thai Rice, and Fried Rice. These foods are all excellent, but where the restaurant truly shines is in very traditional Thai food. This includes curry that I find the best in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) area. The curry finds the perfect balance between spicy and hearty, and with the choice of meats available, including tofu, you cannot go wrong. My favorite thing to get at Thai Pan is Basil with Eggplant. It is spicy, juicy, and tangy, and the sauce is so unbelievable you find yourself pouring the sauce on your rice without even realizing it. I am not a vegetarian, but I am for every vegetarian dish at this restaurant. Thai Pan distracts you with their unforgettably delicious sauces to the point where you forget the foods you’re eating are vegetarian dishes. I believe everyone in Leesburg should change their eating habits and give gas station food a chance.