Cheap Eats 2016: Ruan Thai

Cheap Eats 2016: Ruan Thai
Fried whole flounder at Ruan Thai. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Date-Night-Worthy Good for Groups

Why is it that many diners drive from the other side of Montgomery County, or from Prince George’s or DC, to eat here? It’s strange to think that a hole-in-the-wall Thai place would be destination dining, but it shows what nearly two decades of remarkable consistency and a repertoire of at least half a dozen standout dishes can do. The menu is long and, stir-fries aside, strong throughout. But the most memorable eating comes from loading up on starters and salads—a crunchy, batter-dipped tangle of watercress, shrimp, squid, and onion is a must—and structuring your meal around a centerpiece item, such as the whole fried fish doused with red curry or festooned with peppers and basil.

Also good: Barbecue-pork skewers; spicy sliced duck with chili paste and lime juice; stir-fried duck with hot chilies and basil.

See what other restaurants made our 2016 Cheap Eats list. This article appears in our May 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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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.