100 Best Restaurants 2012: Ruan Thai

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


Lots of Thai restaurants are lively, colorful, and transporting, but no other place pulls off the three-fer of this Wheaton cafe–the dishes explode with flavor, the kitchen is remarkably consistent, and the setting is comfortable and calming. Chef/owner Krisana Suchotinunt renovated the 13-year-old restaurant last summer, doubling the space and brightening it. The jade-colored room is now a worthy stage for the pungent cast of curries, salads, stir-fries, and soups that troop across it, causing heads to turn and senses to perk up.

What to get: “Yum watercress,” a nest of fried greens, shrimp, squid, onion and cashews; sautéed mussels with black-bean sauce; crab-and-pork-stuffed chicken wings; boneless pan-fried duck tossed with chilies and basil; deep-fried whole flounder in red curry; moo ping, skewers of grilled pork served with a fiery barbecue sauce.

Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for dinner. Inexpensive.

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.