100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: Nava Thai

The dining room at Nava Thai in Wheaton, Maryland. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Many Thai restaurants flag their spiciest dishes on the menu
with one or more chili-pepper symbols. Heat is such a foundational element
at this tavern-like dining room that pointing it out would be like asking
a burger joint to tell you it uses meat. Most dishes wouldn’t exist
without it, such as the Floating Market Noodle Soup, a sweet and tangy
broth that lashes the tongue. An innocuous-looking salad of country-style
pork with cilantro and pulverized rice ignites a series of small fires in
the mouth. But heat isn’t the kitchen’s sole preoccupation. In the best
dishes, spice, fragrance, and texture are braided into an often thrilling
unity.
Don’t miss: Larb gai, ground chicken with
lime, onion, and chili; crispy mussels; pad Thai; drunken noodles; red
curry with pork. Open: Daily for lunch and dinner.
Inexpensive.

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013

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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.