Even though the South End of Boston is a popular neighborhood for dining out, there are still a number of hidden gems that can be found in this charming part of the city. And not surprisingly, several of them are located on the southern and western edges of the neighborhood, which are a bit further from downtown Boston and closer to Massachusetts Avenue and the Southeast Expressway. One of these restaurants--Equator--just happens to be a stone's throw away from Mass. Ave., on a block of Washington Street that used to be a bit gritty, but is not nearly as rough as it had been a decade or two ago. The fact that this Thai restaurant is several blocks away from the restaurant-rich part of the South End makes it a dining spot that gets very little press, even though it is a cute little place with great service, decent prices, and some truly mouthwatering dishes.
Equator is a romantic spot, with a classy, elegant look that includes exotic touches, yet it also has an overall simple, unpretentious vibe to it. The rectangular dining area is neither large nor small, with about 20 dark wooden tables lit by both candles and attractive green hanging lamps. Even though the Equator has a tile floor, the noise level isn't too bad, and soft music in the background creates a mellow mood. Large picture windows afford unimpeded views of Washington Street, while the walls contain traditional artwork. During the warmer months, outdoor seating is set up so patrons can enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighborhood while dining.
The menu at Equator is a bit unusual; their slogan is "Thai cuisine and beyond," and it certainly does go beyond Thai in some respects. An entire section of the menu is dedicated to steaks and pasta dishes, while a smaller section features Korean cuisine. But most of the menu focuses on Thai food, including appetizers such as chive pancakes (a bit greasy but tender and full of flavor), crab shumai, chicken satay, and spring rolls. Soups offered include coconut chicken and lemongrass shrimp, while salads include one with papaya and another with seaweed. Entrees are numerous (in addition to the steaks, pasta, and Korean dishes mentioned above); the pad prik king (stir-fried string beans with chili paste) and the stir-fried vegetable entree with garlic and black pepper in a mild brown sauce can both be ordered with a variety of meats, seafood, or vegetables, with the former dish having a decent amount of heat and the latter dish having a nice kick from the garlic. Pad Thai, drunken noodles, all kinds of stir-fried rice entrees, and a number of curries (including an extra hot green curry) can also be ordered, while some of the signature dishes include tamarind duck, ginger fish, and avocado shrimp. Different desserts are featured nightly, including a wonderful creme brulee with a crunchy top. Equator also has an impressive wine list, and offers up a few different beers as well.
Equator is one of those places that we worry about a bit, as it has not really caught on even though it has been around for several years, and is in a part of the South End that gets relatively little foot traffic. But there is much to like about this restaurant including good food, a friendly staff, and prices that won't put too much of a dent in your wallet. And with crowds being few and parking being just a bit easier than in other parts of the South End, we firmly believe that Equator is indeed a place that lovers of Thai food should probably be looking into.
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