100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Nava Thai

Nava Thai restaurant in Wheaton. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Don’t be fooled by the pub-like wooden ships dotting the dining room or the Tucson-yellow walls. This destination isn’t marred by attempts at fusion, and it serves up some of the area’s best Thai food. Heat seekers will find fiery versions of such familiar dishes such as larb gai (a ground-chicken salad) and country beef salad, both arriving in a tangle of onions, cilantro, and ground chilies. Vivid flavors stand out even when the burn isn’t as pronounced. Bright papaya salad with smoky dried shrimp bests the ubiquitous takeout versions, as does marinated chicken with sticky rice. The Floating Market Noodle Soup is testament to the kitchen’s ability to build complexity: The rich broth veers both spicy and sour and is heaped with crisp pork rinds and fragrant herbs.

Open: Daily for lunch and dinner.

Don’t Miss: Pad Thai; drunken noodles; crispy mussels; red curry with chicken and eggplant; whole crispy flounder with chili sauce.

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.