Food

100 Best Restaurants 2008: Thai Square

No. 48: Thai Square

Cuisine: The area’s best Thai cooking, though you’d hardly guess it from looking at the drab exterior and mostly conventional menu. But the Thai standards almost always taste better here—less oily, less cloyingly sweet, more balanced, more fragrant.

Mood: Is there one? The major design touch is a single red line encircling the plain-Jane dining room. But if the restaurant lacks ambience, it does not lack admirers—many staffers of the Thai Embassy cross the river into Virginia for an authentic taste of home.

Best for: Vegetarians as well as devotees of offal, who will rejoice in the bowls of tripe soup and such arcana as pig’s-knuckle stew.

Best dishes: Crispy honey-roasted, basil-scented duck; hunks of catfish, Thai eggplant, and sliced rhizome in a spicy chili sauce; an aromatic, slow-cooked pig-knuckle stew that gives off hits of ginger, cinnamon, and star anise; green or red curry, each displaying balance and power, with slices of duck; crispy squid with basil.

Insider tips: Beers are around $3, which may make you feel flush enough to consider overordering appetizers and entrées, the better to savor the range and depth of the cooking.

Service: ½

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