You’ve walked by Thai Chef Street Food in Dupont Circle. It’s been there for decades. They used to serve sushi. It was that kind of place. It’s no longer that kind of place. Gone is the sushi. Now there’s a bubble waffle bar.
The mother daughter team of Chalisa Fitts and Pornnapa Pongpornprot have taken the name of Thai Chef but changed the menu. The restaurant closed for a few weeks in late summer of 2017. One year later, the place and food are different, focusing on Bangkok style street food. Not sushi.
The dishes we enjoyed the most had two elements: spice and strips. The papaya salad is ideal on warm weather nights. The heat sneaks up on you. The first bites barely have a kick. Then it kicks in. It’s also vegan.
The beef strip heat is up front and definitely not vegan. They’re deep fried and served with a sriracha sauce. They pair well with a beer. Or a beer served with a shot. It’s street food you can enjoy at a table indoors.
In addition to the spice, Thai Chef shines with their sweets. The bubble waffles with ice cream cost $8 are large enough for a group of four. If it’s not their calling card, it should be. Mixing a hot waffle with cold ice cream and your choice of three toppings, they’re colorful desserts well designed for Instagram.
For a more reasonable dessert with at least some subtlety, the mango sticky rice is another large, satisfying end to a meal.
Thai Chef Street Food is a good place to begin or end the night. Start with the spice, end with the sweet, both enjoyed more with large groups. Street food is better as a communal experience.
Thai Chef Street Food, 1712 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C., opens everyday at 11:30 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.