Cheap Eats 2009: Viet Bistro

Great food, low prices, lots of fun

Why go: American Idol may be projecting on the front wall, but the spicy, sure-handed cooking at this Eden Center gem doesn’t dish out the generic sweetness so often aimed at stateside palates.

What to get: Hash of clams and scallions with sesame-speckled rice crackers; lacquered quail with lime; caramel pork or pork ribs, the sauce as tangy with vinegar as it is sweet; aromatic lemongrass chicken; spicy Hue-style soup with slices of brisket, pig’s feet, and one scary-hot chili; rice cooked in a clay pot and topped with Chinese sausage or tofu.

Best for: Eaters who aren’t afraid of fiery flavors—or a little pork blood in their soup.

Insider tip: Hot pots—a sort of Vietnamese fondue—with mixed seafood or eel make a nice shareable dish for a small group.

Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.

>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here 

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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.