100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 47 Rice Paper


Spicy lemongrass tofu. Photograph by Scott Suchman

The big news is that the service has improved—the genial proprietor, Mai Lam, has bolstered the staff on the floor, which means less frenetic servers and, even better, more opportunities for them to interact at the table, essential for a restaurant like this where first-timers need to be shown, for instance, how to bundle their grilled meats into wraps.

The high level of cooking hasn’t changed, and that’s great news, too—the modishly industrial Eden Center cafe is still cranking out more than a hundred different dishes a night, and with the same level of detail and consistency it had when it opened three years ago. This remains Washington’s quintessential Vietnamese restaurant, good for both novices and the more experienced, who will likely rejoice in the encyclopedic array of options from northern, southern, and central Vietnam as well as in the many lightly modernized preparations—which, as in a glorious thrice-cooked chicken, thankfully go light on the self-congratulatory reinvention.

Don’t miss:

  • Snails in coconut cream sauce
  • Bun cha (lemongrass-and-chili-marinated meatballs and grilled pork with vermicelli)
  • Grilled stuffed grape leaves
  • Roast quail
  • Caramel clay-pot pork ribs or fish
  • Hot pot
  • Vietnamese coffee
  • Lime soda

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 Petworth.

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.