100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: Little Serow
Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Comments () | Published February 19, 2013
100 Best Restaurants 2014 100 Best Restaurants 2013 100 Best Restaurants 2012

Little Serow
Address: 1511 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Phone: No phone
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle
Cuisines: Thai
Opening Hours: Tuesday through Saturday for dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Dupont Circle
Price Range: Expensive
Reservations: Not Accepted
Best Dishes Tofu salad; pork ribs

Somewhere around minute 30 of standing in line at this reservationless, signless, basement-level restaurant, a churlish thought might strike: All this for Thai food? To pay $45 per person and sit on a stool?

Suppress that thought and persevere. What awaits you is to your average Thai restaurant as Cirque du Soleil is to community theater. Chef/owner Johnny Monis—who is also behind our number-two restaurant, Komi (page 64)—is a hands-on presence, which means you can expect much the same vigilance as at his fine-dining restaurant upstairs.

The seven-course, family-style menu changes weekly and shows off first-rate meats and produce (when was the last time a cucumber smelled like anything?) and spices that are nearly drug-like in their potency. If the cooking transports you to the rugged terrain of northern Thailand, where Monis and his wife and business partner, Anne Marler, were married in 2011, the rest of the experience—electric-green walls, a staff decked out in thick-framed glasses, twanging bluegrass on the sound system—channels the vibe of a hipster party, both stylized and determinedly low-key. Don’t miss: Recent standouts have included chili relish for bundling in rice and herbs; minced pork with lemongrass and sawtooth; catfish with galangal and kaffir lime; and pork ribs marinated in Mekhong whiskey.

Open: Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013
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  • DC Foodie

    I am sorry, but I do NOT get the appeal of Little Serow. When I went there with a friend, in spite of a reservation, we had to wait over 2 hours for a seat. Other than the pork ribs, I did not find any of the food actually good - granted it was exotic, but it was weird... and it involved copious amounts of raw cabbages, squash, and other plants... in some cases to mitigate the awful effects of overly hot spicy something... food. In my opinion, Little Serow is a classic example of "the emperor's new clothes" for those think that jumping on the bandwagon is equivalent to knowing what you like.

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