Cheap Eats 2008: Amina Thai

Why go: Amina Toopet, the owner of this small and serene Muslim Thai eatery—no pork, no alcohol, Halal meat slaughtered according to Islamic law—is as gracious a hostess as you could wish for. She scrubs the place down daily until the yellow-and-blue walls glow and the wooden floors gleam. The kitchen—headed by her husband, Hassan—is just as committed: The lineup of familiar-sounding Thai dishes sparkles with clear, bright flavors.

What to get: Beautifully fried vegetarian spring rolls; clay-pot mussels redolent of lemongrass and Thai basil; larb gai, the minced-chicken dish enlivened with roasted chilies, red onion, lime, and cilantro; coconut-laced green curry with shrimp and Thai eggplant; crisp-skinned salmon smothered with scallions, Thai basil, and shredded ginger; a clever take on the classic fried-banana dessert—wonton-wrapped bananas drizzled with honey and served with vanilla ice cream.

Best for: Intimate dinners.

Insider tip: Amina Toopet has favorites on the menu and will steer you toward them if you ask.

See all Cheap Eats 2008 restaurants  

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.