Sometimes, when you approach a cuisine that’s new to you, it’s hard to know where to start, especially when you’re faced with a 150-item menu. And sometimes, you might eat a certain type of food all the time, but get mired in the rut of ordering the same thing (tom kha kai soup, pad Thai, repeat). If either of those scenarios sound familiar—or you just feel like trying a few new dishes—check out this guide to the iconic dishes that anchor the many ethnic cuisines featured in our 2013 Cheap Eats package. We’ve got something for every palate, from tame to adventurous to extreme thrill-seeker. And of course, we’ll also tell you where to find our favorite versions. Happy eating.
- SOUTH AMERICAN
- MEXICAN AND SALVADORAN
- CUBAN AND CARIBBEAN
- MIDDLE EASTERN
The soothing soup bobbing with ethereal shrimp dumplings at
Full Key (2227 University Blvd. W., Wheaton;
Chinese-style hot-and-sour soup—thickened with duck blood—at
Michael’s Noodles (10038 Darnestown Rd., Rockville;
Duck tongues tossed with basil at Joe’s Noodle
House (1488-C Rockville Pike, Rockville;
Delicate fritters of sweet potato and shrimp, wrapped in
lettuce and dipped in nuac mam, at Minh’s (2500 Wilson
Blvd., Arlington; 703-525-2828).
Crunchy lotus-root salad topped with pork and shrimp at
Four Sisters (8190 Strawberry La., Suite 1, Falls Church;
Bubble tea made with durian—the infamously stinky tropical
fruit—at Song Que (6769 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church;
Chicken with basil and bamboo shoots in spicy, coconutty red
curry at Sisters Thai (4004 University Blvd., Fairfax;
Fried beef jerky with chili sauce at Elephant Jumps
(8110-A Arlington Blvd., Falls Church; 703-942-6600).
Floating market soup, with rice noodles, pork rinds, and pig’s
blood, at Nava Thai (11301 Fern St., Wheaton;
Gingery, double-fried wings at DaMoim (7106
Columbia Pike, Annandale; 703-354-3211).
Soondubu jigae—a roiling-hot, chili-spiked stew with tofu and
shellfish—at Lighthouse Tofu (Vit Goel)(Annandale,
Centreville, and Rockville).
Sul leung tang, an intensely meaty, milky soup made by
slow-cooking beef bones, at Gamasot (6963 Hechinger Dr.,
Yogurt-marinated, bone-in tandoori chicken at
Turmeric (405 Maple Ave. E., Vienna;
Poblano chilies stuffed with spiced lamb at
Malgudi (2400 Wisconsin Ave., NW;
Extra-fiery goat vindaloo at Curry Mantra
(9984 Main St., Fairfax, 703-218-8128; 1077 W. Broad St., Falls
Thinly pounded, fried-pork tonkatsu with a sweet,
Worcestershire-like sauce at Mikaku (3065 Centreville
Rd., Herndon; 703-467-0220).
Ikura, a sushi-bar staple of salmon roe (sometimes topped with
a quail egg), at Sushiko (2309 Wisconsin Ave., NW,
202-333-4187; 5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-961-1644).
Ankimo, custardy, rich monkfish liver, at
Kotobuki (4822 MacArthur Blvd., NW;
Ceviche mixto, with scallops, octopus, and squid, at
Asi Es Mi Tierra (2559 Ennalls Ave., Wheaton;
Aguadito, a Peruvian chicken soup with gizzards, at the
Chicken Place (2418 University Blvd. W., Silver Spring;
Enrollado mixto, a massive Bolivian pork terrine with pickled
vegetables, at Llajtaymanta (7236 Arlington Blvd., Falls
Carne asada tacos with onion, cilantro, and tomatillo salsa at
Xitomate (5850 Waterloo Rd., Columbia;
Braised-pork tacos with onion, cilantro, radish, and lime at
Tortacos (9629 Lost Knife Rd., Gaithersburg;
Pork-cheek-and-pork-lip tacos at Taqueria la Placita
(5020 Edmonston Rd., Hyattsville; 301-277-4477).
Jerk-chicken sandwich at Just Jerk (9005
Lanham-Severn Rd., Lanham; 301-459-5375).
“Buss up shut”—a torn roti with goat curry—at Teddy’s
Roti Shop (7304 Georgia Ave., NW; 202-882-6488).
Jamaican sauté of salt cod with ackee, a tropical fruit, at
Jerk Hill Cafe (6543 Ager Rd., Hyattsville;
Doro wat, chicken and egg in a rich berbere-spiced gravy, at
Shagga Coffee & Restaurant (6040 Baltimore Ave.,
Dulet—simmered lamb liver and tripe—at Meaza
(5700 Columbia Pike, Falls Church; 703-820-2870).
Slices of raw beef with whiskey at Abay Market and
Restaurant (3811 S. George Mason Dr., Falls Church;
Chicken-breast kebabs with saffron rice and salad at
Rose Kabob (126 Maple Ave. W., Vienna;
Qabili palow—spiced basmati rice with carrots and raisins
covering hunks of marinated lamb—at Kabul Kabob House
(514 S. Van Dorn St., Alexandria; 703-751-1833).
Mughaz Karahi, a hearty tomato-and-green-chili stew with lamb
brains at Ravi Kabob House I and II (305 N. Glebe Rd.,
Arlington, 703-522-6666; 250 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington,
- South American
- Mexican and Salvadoran
- Cuban and Caribbean
- Middle Eastern
Online Production: Mario Starks