Cheap Eats 2010: Nava Thai Noodle and Grill

100 places that offer great food at low prices.

Why go: Vibrant versions of Thai street-food staples, the heart of the menu, make the familiar (pad Thai, papaya salad) feel new—sometimes revelatory. Echoing the practice of the popular barges and night markets of Thailand, freshness comes first: Many dishes, even soups and salads, are prepared to order.

What to get:
The area’s best pad Thai, a tangle of noodles, bean sprouts, fried egg, and shrimp; batter-fried mussels; incendiary papaya salad; Floating Market Noodle Soup, hot and sour and salty and sweet; grilled chicken with tamarind sauce and sticky rice.

Best for: Diners who want to venture beyond conventional curries and stir-fries.

Insider tip: If you want a spicy dish to live up to its billing, tell the staff politely but insistently.

>> See all 2010 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 Petworth.