At the very edge of Pacific Avenue, sitting across from Fireman's Park, sits a lovely rectangular building with an eye-grabbing orange door. Now, I imagine not many people are going for a walk downtown these days – with all the construction and massive, mountainous hills, Downtown Tacoma is becoming less and less pedestrian friendly. So I wouldn't blame you if you told me that you have never laid eyes on this building before, but I'll tell you why this odd building will become one of your favorite places in the entire city.
The Orange Door is perhaps the most authentic Vietnamese dining experience that Tacoma has to offer. Owned by Toan Pham, the Orange Door has been open for a little over two and a half years and will be celebrating its third year in business come next June. The key staff of the Orange Door consists of primary cook Noi Phongsy (or as many have come to call her, momma), fellow cook and artist Jefferson Wright, and, of course, owner and host Toan Pham. Each member of the staff is unique and fascinating in their own ways. Momma may be one of the most entertaining people that I have ever met at a restaurant and she is a woman that you simply have to meet for yourself.
The Orange Door serves traditional Vietnamese cuisine made with passion and heart by the two incredibly gifted cooks. In the words of Wright, a family member would make this authentic Vietnamese food, before microwaves and before quickly made meals. This is food that feels meticulously crafted by family members that you would see for special occasions or on the weekend at a celebration. The restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients when preparing their meals and the taste is all the more astonishing for it. Seriously, comparing this place to any run of the mill Vietnamese restaurants is simply unfair; it's like comparing The Godfather to Micky Blue Eyes. The Orange Door menu makes the rounds of varied and unique dishes, including a large list of Pho options, and if you are willing to trust me here, I can tell you that the fresh, never frozen, handmade dumplings are nothing short of a mini miracle.
In addition to a lengthy menu that begs to be explored, the Orange Door is the one and only Vietnamese restaurant in all of Tacoma with a full service bar, and with closing hours of 3 a.m. I can promise you are going to want to spend a lot of time here. And really, where else can you go to satisfy that one in the morning craving for Pho?
Sean Contris is a student at Tacoma Community College. Oftentimes he comes too close to embodying the classical, and oftentimes stereotypical, persona of a young male writer. Sean enjoys listening to a wide range of music and locking himself in his room to read sad Russian novels. Also, be sure and check out his “Band of the Week” features at http://www.TacomaWeekly.com (type “Band of the Week” in the search field).
701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.