What began as a secret Laotian menu inside Falls Church’s Bangkok Golden—recently renamed Padaek—is now a “food movement” for chef/owners Seng Luangrath and son Bobby Pradachith. The duo spread a doctrine of deliciousness for the fiery, pungent flavors of Laos. Newcomers can experiment with tamer dishes such as khao poon (red-curry noodle soup) or crunchy catfish showered in lemongrass, or go all-in for the “jungle menu” at Thip Khao. (Try dabbling in fried pig ears alongside a Scotch and soda, “the authentic Lao cocktail.”) Inexpensive.
Also great: Piing (grilled meats with spicy toasted-rice sauce); coconut-rice salad; Orm eggplant stew; pineapple-chili gelato (Thip Khao only).