Gas Station Thai: Thai Pan in Leesburg
Gas for the car and Thai for the driver.
Occupying an entire block on Harrison Street SE, in Leesburg, is Liberty gas station. Discreetly hitching a ride on the Loudoun Street end of the Liberty Gas Station is The Thai Pan Restaurant owned by Sam who was ebullient about her business, her menu and the staff she calls “family”. Sam and Cici, her head chef, and Thai Pan Restaurant are well known in Leesburg and throughout a wide surrounding area. A mom and young daughter arrived before 11 am for pickup from 30 minutes away. Another woman stopped in for pickup from her work, a trek she said she has been making several times a week for years. Sam says school children bring their parents in after walking by or hearing about Thai Pan in school.
Sam bought the Liberty Gas Station 15 years ago. Shortly thereafter, a homesick Thai friend suggested that a cure for her homesickness was possible if Sam opened a Thai restaurant next to the gas station. Sam did it! She hired all classic Thai staff and the place took off. Sam says the key to the restaurant’s success is, first and foremost, her insistence that their recipes use only fresh, quality ingredients carefully selected from the best vendors. She makes sure she has these items delivered twice weekly.
Thai Pan isn’t small in space, “it’s personal and intimate”. The menu fills both sides of a four-fold brochure. No shortage of options for every taste. Favorites among the Inside Loudoun crew are the Green Curry, Red Curry, Pad Thai and Spicy Noodle Soup. The day’s special was Pumpkin Red Curry with coconut milk, peppers, green beans, carrots, basil, eggplant and a choice of pumpkins. The customer who came from 30 minutes away had great affection for the Pineapple Fried Rice and Drunken Noodles. The next customer who came in started listing her favorites and when the list grew to about seven items, she laughed and said everything was good.
Cici filled a small table with about six different selections, all of which were finished off, and then six more came out. When the Crispy Duck emerged from the kitchen, there was a bit of fanfare. A huge portion of duck was piled on the platter with fresh garlic, fringed by fresh broccoli florets and topped with crisped fresh basil leaves. Delicious and tender! And you can’t beat the portion size for the price.
Sam was invited recently to a trade show for gas station restaurants (which is a larger group than I ever knew). The Thai Pan Restaurant, Sam proudly told us, was chosen as the top gas station restaurant nationwide. Honored by her peers! Good to know for when you go.
Thai Pan Restaurant, 2 Harrison Street, SE, Leesburg, VA 20175; 703-777-9487; www.thaipanleesburg.comDine In, Take Out and Delivery; M-F 11-3 pm and 4:30-9:30 pm; Sat 12-9:30 pm and Sun 12-9pm