Green Papaya

An upscale take on traditional Vietnamese.

From January 2005 100 Very Best Restaurants

A wall of water soothes the psyche at this stylish Vietnamese restaurant that marries tradition with invention. Diners in search of something new should go to the specials menu for items like Hen Xuc Banh Da, sautéed baby clams with black-sesame crackers; caramel black-pepper pork loin; and rack of lamb with lemongrass. There's also a well-rounded roster of classic dishes like Bo La Nho, beef wrapped in vine leaves and charbroiled, and golden fried quail with black-pepper sauce, which make for fine beginnings.

Among the popular caramelized items is a lemongrass duck-breast version. More familiar main courses like bun–rice vermicelli with a variety of meat and seafood toppings–are nicely done, especially one with shrimp in lemongrass sauce. For dessert, banana flambé with ginger ice cream is a great take on the banana split. Along with traditional Vietnamese drinks like iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk and fresh lemonade and lemon soda, there's a short beer and wine list.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.