100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 6 Little Serow

Critic’s Rating:

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Laap pla duk: catfish, shallots, chiles. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

“Okay, who’s been here before?” the bespectacled server asks when she hears there’s a newbie at the table. “What I mean is: Who’s going to be the chili sherpa?”

Yes, a little handholding helps if you’re unfamiliar with the ferociously spicy northern and northeastern Thai flavors chef/owner Johnny Monis celebrates here. The menu changes weekly, but there are some dishes that we’re glad to see pop up again and again—a sublime tofu salad, blessedly mild pork ribs.

Some sherpa tips: The key to finding bliss in the lagoon-blue dining room is to pace yourself—which isn’t easy considering that the family-style seven-course menu contains as much pleasure as pain—and to make good use of the sticky rice, herbs, and cucumbers that come gratis. (Also, never has a good Vouvray or dry Riesling been so soothing.)

Finally, get in line before the place opens—it doesn’t take reservations, and the 28 seats fill up in a flash.

Don’t miss:

  • Snakehead dumplings in galangal broth
  • Morning glory stir-fried with egg
  • Crispy pork skin with anchovies, tamarind, and chilies

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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.