Cheap Eats 2010: Rabieng

100 places that offer great food at low prices.

Why go: This kitchen honors northeastern Thailand, where spicy is more prized than sweet (rice helps ease the burn). And though Rabieng is considered more rustic than its sibling, Duangrat’s, you’ll still find gracious servers in blue-and-gold silks, a serene dining room, and desserts presented in martini glasses.

What to get: Warm spiced cashews; “dumplings” of lychees filled with pork; chili-heavy versions of shrimp cocktail, catfish salad, and green-papaya salad; fried cod in relatively mellow red-chili sauce; roast pork in bracing red curry; pad Thai; sliced mango with sweet sticky rice; Kahlúa Eskimo, a coffee sundae with whipped cream and roasted peanuts.

Best for: Quiet, quick dinners; weekend lunch (there’s a fun Thai dim sum menu).

Insider tip: Diners sensitive to spiciness can ask the kitchen to tone it down—or turn it up.

>> 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.