Way out in Cary by the Apex border is a little strip mall cafe called Tangerine Cafe. I had been out here a long time ago because it’s one of my co-worker’s favorite lunch spots and I finally got back for a return visit. Covering a breadth of Vietnamese, Thai and Asian eats, it’s sort of a mini and local PF Chang’s but does a good job with keeping the flavors real and prices low. Perfect for a delicious and inexpensive lunch!
You might have to look a bit to find Tangerine Cafe’s it’s in a dark corner of the strip mall but once you step inside, your retinas are hit with the brightly colored walls and spartan space. Asian Cafe decor all the way, it’s all about the eating here! The lunch menu gives you 10 or 20 apps and entrees to choose from ranging from Thai to Vietnamese, Malaysian and more. Let’s call it a pan-Asian menu and leave it at that. We order up the Imperial rolls, chicken lettuce wraps along with a honey walnut chicken and crispy catfish for me.
Tangerine Cafe is a small space so you may not want to hit it up during busy periods but it’s not too bad for a Tuesday lunch. Our apps show up and I’ve got two thick rolls filled with pork and some noodle. The nuoc nam on the side is fine for dipping and it’s a heavy and dee-licious appetizer which I finish off. The lettuce wraps is a large pile of leaves with a slightly spicy minced chicken which goes great with a ginger soy sauce. There is plenty of food here already, even without the mains!
My spicy catfish is a decent looking dish. Fried filet covered with a tangy sauce with a bit of basil for flavor. It’s a flavorful fish dish and reminiscent of other Thai dishes I’ve had. With the side of rice and braised veggies, it’s a great lunch. Service in this small cafe is decent, two gentlemen dressed in black take care of our table. We can’t make it to dessert so it’s time to leave! And here’s where the story gets better. While I think the food at Tangerine Cafe is a bit Americanized, it’s still very tasty and delivers the necessary flavors. And for the price, this place can’t be beat, our meal with two apps, two entrees and two drinks comes out to about $26. Really a great deal for this quality and quantity of food. So let’s just say that Tangerine Cafe is a bit of an Asian-eatery gem. If you’re ever in the hood, stop on by and let your tastebuds be dazzled and surprised!
2422 SW Cary Pkwy
Cary, NC 27513