Nava Thai Noodle and Grill
11301 Fern St.
Wheaton, MD 20902
Open Sunday through Thursday 11:30 AM to 10 PM. Open Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Wheaton
Price Range: Inexpensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Needed
Papaya salad; pad Thai; hot-and-sour squid; frittata of mussels with green curry; Floating Market Noodle Soup; drunken noodles
Starters, $5.95 to $6.95; main courses, $7.95 to $10.95.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Why go: Thai cooking is supposed to represent the harmony of contrasting elements, of sweet and sour, funky and fragrant. Too many places siphon out the sour and the funk, but not this tiny but pretty cafe buried in the back of a Wheaton grocery store. Flavors are clear, bright, and precise, making for some of the best Thai food in the area.
What to get: Tangy sweet-and-sour shrimp; the area’s best pad Thai, true to its street-food roots; Penang curry with pork, its rich, peanut-based curry amplified with a dollop of coconut milk; a big eggy fritter of mussels over steamed bean sprouts; Floating Market Noodle Soup, a meal in a bowl at once rich, sweet, funky, aromatic, and crunchy thanks to the pork rinds skimming the surface.
Best for: Lovers of spice and heat, and anyone for whom vivid cooking matters more than plush surroundings.
Insider tip: Soups are big enough for three; many appetizers are big enough for two.
See all Cheap Eats 2008 restaurants