Cheap Eats 2009: Nava Thai Noodle and Grill

Great food, low prices, lots of fun

Why go: The move to new quarters down the street has not been easy for this mom-and-pop place—waits and inconsistency have dogged the operation in its first months. But at its best, which is often enough, it renders the bright flavors of Thailand’s food stalls with clarity, heat, and sass.

What to get: Floating Market Noodle Soup—sweet, rich, salty, sour, and spicy all at once; “crispy mussels,” kind of a mussel frittata with a dip in a red hot-and-sweet sauce; papaya salad; Penang curry with pork, with a finishing drizzle of coconut milk; hot-and-sour squid salad with red onion and celery; grilled half chicken with sticky rice; the area’s best pad Thai.

Best for: A bracing reminder that Thai cooking is more than stir-fries and curries.

Insider tip: The kitchen, perhaps to please bigger crowds, has turned down the fire of many dishes. Tell your server if you’d like your dishes prepared the old way—with heat.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here 

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 Logan Circle.