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Restaurant Rally: Exquisite Thai grilled pork & the area’s best schnitzel

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Today, I’m featuring Chili Thai and Citron European Restaurant, two outstanding restaurants you should visit for Pierce County’s Restaurant Rally. 

I’ll be writing about locally owned restaurants throughout the rally, which takes place Nov. 8-12 and Nov. 15-19 at about 300 participating restaurants all over Pierce County. (Friday and Saturday dining is excluded).

Restaurants that participate in Restaurant Rally give diners a 30 percent discount off the menu. 

That 30 percent offer is good for dine-in service or take-out meals – so if you’re skipping dining inside a restaurant right now, you can still participate in the deal by ordering directly from the restaurant via phone (third-party delivery/ordering is not included in the program). Where applicable, I will note if the restaurant has outdoor seating, and whether it’s covered and heated.

Read to the end of this article for more info on Restaurant Rally, or click here

moo yang
An order of moo yang from Chili Thai, with locations in Puyallup, University Place and Tacoma.

CHILI THAI

This regional Thai restaurant has a secret weapon on its menu: moo yang.

The grilled pork dish is not one I see often on Thai restaurant menus, but when I do, it’s the first thing I try at the restaurant. 

At Chili Thai, the Northeast Thai style grilled pork dish is listed as an appetizer, but it’s really enough for a mini meal. I’ll often eat it alongside the restaurant’s larb salad and it’s plenty for two diners. 

larb
A chicken larb salad with cabbage leaves for assembling into wraps. The dish is a popular Thai salad on the menu at Chili Thai, with locations in Puyallup, University Place and Tacoma.

Chili Thai’s marinated moo yang is grilled until barely sizzled, which delivers just the right ratio of free radicals on the fatty edges. What makes this dish spectacular is the sauce (remember, I’m a serious condiment person, so your mileage may vary). The sauce packs a wallop of sweet-sour-spicy flavors and I end up dredging each piece of pork through the thin sauce until each piece is coated. This dish also travels well, so it’s a great one to order to go, as is most of the menu at Chili Thai, which has locations in Puyallup, University Place and Tacoma.  

rice
Spicy basil rice at Chili Thai, with locations in Puyallup, University Place and Tacoma.

The menu is a collection of everything there is to love about Thai cuisine: perfect Phad Thai with a tamarind-heavy sauce, delicious spice-licked curries, a spicy basil fried rice that is a must order. Chili Thai has a deep menu of seven salads perfect for carb avoiders. My favorite is the larb. 

CHILI THAI LOCATIONS 

https://www.chilithai.com/

Tacoma: 3213 S 38th St; 253-267-0779

University Place: 7406 27th St W; 253-564-9099

Puyallup: 3712 Ninth St. SW; 253-864-7005 or 253-840-8719

NOTES: Open 7 days a week. Restaurant Rally is only applicable on dining Sunday-Thursday dining Nov. 8-12 and Nov. 15-19. No third-party delivery is included, take-out customers should order direct from the restaurant by phone.

soup
The French onion soup comes topped with a molten layer of cheese and bread at Citron European Restaurant in Parkland.

CITRON EUROPEAN RESTAURANT 

The crunch on the schnitzel. The perfect temperature of the cheese plate. The exquisite beef bourguignon. Duck breast so tender, it cuts with the nudge of a fork. 

Chef Christophe Durliat, a French-born chef, offers a slice of his native Alsace in Tacoma. He opened his charming bistro in Parkland in 2016. Previously, he worked at downtown Tacoma’s (now closed) Aviateur and has a long and prolific resume working in hotel fine dining.

dining room
The dining room at Citron European Bistro in Parkland.

Citron elicits instant comfort upon entry. Creamy yellow walls are so very cheerful and comfortable seats invite lingering, as do staff members who never rush diners through a meal. Reservations are a must.

The casual bistro features food that’s fit for a fine dining restaurant, an outgrowth of Durliat’s classic training. The Alsatian chef often shows up tableside at the end of a meal. Ask him about the sublime mushroom gravy that accompanies his perfectly crunchy schnitzel.

schnitzel
An order of schnitzel with a side of gravy, mustardy potato salad and dill-flecked cucumber salad from Citron European Bistro in Parkland.

If you order only one thing on the menu, make it that delicious schnitzel, which is made with pork, not veal, and is a cutlet pounded thin, breaded and fried until exquisitely crunchy ($19). The schnitzel is boosted with a double-punch of tang from a chilled mustardy potato salad with bacon and thinly-sliced dill-flecked cucumber salad. The schnitzel comes adorned simply with a wedge of lemon, but a server also asks when ordering, “Would you like gravy on the side with that?” The answer should always be, “YES! I DO WANT THAT MUSHROOM-BACON GRAVY.” 

duck
The duck breast is a must order at Citron European Bistro in Parkland.

With a 30 percent discount, why not have soup to start? Citron’s version of French onion soup is my absolute favorite in the region ($9). It’s a volancially hot, deeply beefy flavored broth, suspending slippery golden-brown onions and a tweak of tarragon. It’s topped with a raft of parsley just below the molten layer of Swiss that tops this dish. 

cheese
The cheese plate at Citron European Bistro in Parkland.

Want an appetizer and dessert? One dish can be both: the cheese plate. The selection can change, but a recent visit found a plate with chevre, brie, camembert and gorgonzola. Fresh sliced apple and pecans flanked the cheese with red pepper jelly, halved cherry tomatoes, olives and capers offering sweet-salty reinforcement. Dinner starts with a baguette, but the cheese plate comes with more bread for you carb lovers.

CITRON EUROPEAN BISTRO

Where: 10716 A St. S., Tacoma; 253-212-1153

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CitronEuropeanBistro

Menu: https://www.facebook.com/CitronEuropeanBistro/photos/a.1602819250032732/2495119997469315

NOTES: Open for lunch and dinner Tuesdays-Saturdays. Restaurant Rally is only applicable on dining out Sunday-Thursday dining Nov. 8-12 and Nov. 15-19. No third-party delivery is included, take-out customers should order direct from the restaurant by phone.

LOVE SCHNITZEL?

Check out my guide to German eating in Pierce County here.

PIERCE COUNTY RESTAURANT RALLY INFORMATION 

  1. Third-party ordering and delivery services, such as Uber Eats, Grub Hub and Door Dash, are excluded from the program because the program is intended to directly support local restaurants, not give money to technology companies. (Read more about why that is here).
  2. Tipping etiquette suggests diners should tip on the full amount of the bill, not the discounted amount. Treat servers well, they’re stressed enough as it is.
  3. State regulations require dining room capacity remain at 50 percent, and only dining parties of 6 and fewer will be seated
  4. Make a reservation if the restaurant accepts them. Cancel the reservation if you can’t keep your reservation. Empty tables = lost revenue.
  5. Booze is excluded from the promotion.
  6. Diners can get the 30 percent discount on dine-in service and take-out meals at participating restaurants. Confirm with the restaurant that they’re participating before you order.

Restaurant owners have advice for how you can navigate Restaurant Rally here in this story.

READ MORE RESTAURANT RALLY NAVIGATION TIPS HERE

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