Some restaurants get better with age, but even more don’t—part of what makes this 19-year-old restaurant from Bangkok native Sunthorn Rojural remarkable. The minimalist room doesn’t look tired, and the kitchen continues to produce plates that are bracingly spicy and fresh. Appetizers shine. Start with herb-flecked fishcakes; a numbingly hot salad of ground pork and crunchy pig skin, ginger, and lime; or tender squid tossed with lemongrass, mint, and chilies. Don’t necessarily skip more traditional dishes—the green-curry chicken is near perfect—though adventurers can also do well with the likes of pork-knuckle stew served with a heap of herbs and pickled lettuce.
Where you can get it: 3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-685-7040
Also good: Steamed pork-and-shrimp dumplings; crispy squid with basil; eggplant with bean curd; Floating Market Noodle Soup.