100 Best Restaurants 2010: Nava Thai Noodle and Grill

No. 63: Nava Thai Noodle and Grill

Cuisine: If it’s not Washington’s best Thai restaurant, it’s easily the most interesting. Owners and cooks Suchart and Ladavan Srigatesook have culled a fascinating assortment of dishes from the night-market stalls and floating barges in Thailand. The cooking is bright and bold, perhaps nowhere more so than in the marvelous and complex soups and the vivid papaya salad (made to order). Even pad Thai is transformed from a gloppy noodle dish into a small symphony of flavor.

Mood: The multi-room setting once housed a Greek taverna, and the rustic-chic appointments aren’t an ideal match for the restaurant’s vision of quick-serve Thai street food. The giant olive-oil bottles of fish sauce that sit on the tables feel almost comical. Then again, the atmosphere is cozy, and when the place is packed on weekends, it’s lively but not loud.

Best for: Food adventurers.

Best dishes: Papaya salad; pad Thai; hot-and-sour squid; a crispy frittata of mussels with green curry; Floating Market Noodle Soup, sweet and funky and sour and incendiary; drunken noodles.

Insider tips: Don’t hold out for the desserts—none are worth the calories, even those made that morning.

Service: ••

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best 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 Logan Circle.