The Other Restaurant Row
South shore eateries, markets help make a neighborhood
Ta Lai Chinese Restaurant2007-G E. Riverside, 447-1520
Monday-Thursday, 11am-2:30pm, 5-10pm; Friday, 11am-2:30pm, 5-10:30pm; Saturday, 11:30am-10:30pm; Sunday, 11:30am-10pm
Ta Lai has been open since 1977; their restaurant on Riverside can be found in Rivertowne Mall (close to the Back Room). Ta Lai is authentically decorated, dark, and cozy, with service that is pleasant, friendly, and efficient. Although many diners opt for the buffet ($5.40 weekday, $5.95 weekend), the menu features a large selection of lunch specials Monday through Friday, with prices that range from $4.50 to $4.95.
The flip side of the menu has a nice selection of items in all categories with an interesting price range: regular sized at $5.50, or Texas-sized for $6.50 (both sizes come with egg roll, rice, and soup). With the popularity of the buffet, most menu items are prepared to go, and the buffet can be purchased to go as well.
The buffet has a salad section to get one started, and the main attraction the day we dined was the spicy, rich orange-flavor chicken. A nice version of Kung Pao chicken came in second place, and both dishes could be seen on almost every diner's plates. Ta Lai is the venerable old-timer on the street, and crowds go there for the food they expect.