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Posted at 3:22 PM ET, 07/11/2008

Thinking of Thai?

By Julia Beizer

Neramitra Thai Cuisine's gang ped yang duck. Got Plans? readers had Thai on the brain during yesterday's chat. (Giuliana Nakashima - The Washington Post)

Thai food turned out to be a theme in the questions I didn't get to during yesterday's Got Plans? You wanted to know about the new Thai place in Dupont Circle and our favorite Thai eateries near Metro stations. We'll get to all that -- and a bit of Thai restaurant news -- after the jump.

Washington, D.C.: Hi gurus! Have you heard anything or been to the new Thai restaurant on Connecticut right next to Julia's and Lucky Bar? Can't remember the name. Any reviews?

This question's referring to Pasara Thai, the restaurant that opened less than a month ago on that bustling Dupont block just north of M Street NW. Stopped in last night for a drink at the bar and to pick up some takeout for my still-at-work husband. I found a much more pleasant space than one might expect from the understated exterior. Spare wooden tables are dotted around the room and the soaring ceilings draw your eye up to a balcony of additional seats. A long bar in the back serves elegant bright-red Mai Tais and other fruity cocktails common in Thai restaurants. The restaurant has a nice feel to it -- like it might be appropriate for a first date or a large group of friends gathering for a birthday dinner. Another plus? Nothing on the menu is more than $15 (except for the "market priced" items.)

One obviously can't review a restaurant's food based on its takeout, but I'll vouch for a great spicy green curry (the bartender's suggestion) and some perfectly crispy spring rolls. The restaurant has a sister location in the Kingstowne Town Center, and is planning to open a third in Alexandria within a month.

Also new on Connecticut Avenue is Paragon Thai, a restaurant opening tonight in Cleveland Park. As the City Paper reported on Wednesday, Paragon Thai is taking over the space recently vacated by a branch of Sala Thai. Reached on his cell phone earlier today, one of the owners confirmed that the restaurant is opening tonight and promised "big changes" in the decor from the old Sala Thai space. But since he, you know, had to put finishing touches on those changes before the dinner hour, he didn't have time to provide further insight on the decor or the new menu.

Finally, some recommendations.

Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! I haven't had really good Thai food in a long time and I'm craving it now. What are your recommendations for a good Thai place close to a Metro?

I've usually got a pretty steady craving for Thai dishes. A few of my favorite area Thai restaurants are listed below; add your own suggestions in the comments.

- Sawatdee: Steps away from the Courthouse Metro (and our office), Sawatdee is one of my favorite spots for a pad-thai lunch break. Given its proximity to the AMC Courthouse, it's a great spot for a pre- or post-movie dinner. The papaya salad is also good.
- Thaiphoon: The name is ridiculous, but I can always count on Dupont's Thaiphoon for a good meal with friends. The cramped dining room and rushed service get me down, but the appetizers make up for it.
- Neramitra: This restaurant is somewhere close to the Crystal City Metro stop, but don't ask me how to get there. I am perpetually lost in the underground Metro tunnels. Nevertheless, when I make it in the door, I always enjoy the food here.
- Rice: This one is the least Metro-accessible of the bunch, but I couldn't resist including it. Rice has a contemporary, modern vibe that isn't too common in local Thai eateries, but totally fits in Logan Circle. The drunken noodles here are some of my favorites in town. The only drawback is that the place doesn't take reservations.

--Julia

By Julia Beizer  | July 11, 2008; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Comments

I agree with Julia about Thaiphoon. I love this place to the point that it's tough for me to try somewhere new when I know what I can get there. A mountain of crispy tofu as an appetizer and drunken noodle tofu (or chicken) as the entree. Great.

Posted by: Jeremy | July 11, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I only ate there once a couple of years ago, but I remember having a very good drunken noodle at Mai Thai in Old Town - the kind that is so hot it makes you sweat.

Posted by: Arlington | July 11, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

THAI CHEF: http://www.thaichefsushibar.com/thaichef/index.html

is hands down the best Thai Restaurant in DC. It's also convenient at Dupont Circle.

I would wholeheartedly recommend the Panang Beef Curry.

Posted by: Dani | July 12, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Thai Square in Arlington is unfortunately not metro accessible, but is by far some of the best Thai food I've ever had. They are known for their crispy calamari, but I have never had anything less than spectacular.
http://www.thaisquarerestaurant.com/

Posted by: Amanda | July 14, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

How can you talk about Thai Food in Washington without at least mentioning THAI X-ING at 5th and Florida NW? It might be a bit, well, bizarre, but it absolutely cannot be overlooked. It might not really be a sit-down restaurant, but it really is some of the best Thai in the city, as well as being cheap, and possibly the most fun place to get take-out I've ever been.

Posted by: Wait Wait Wait... | July 14, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget about Kanlaya around the corner from the Verizon Center!

Posted by: PQ resident | July 14, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

If you just want authentic Thai food without the pretention of Thai restaurants in the Dupont area, try out the cafe at Thai Market on 902 Thayer Street in Silver Spring, across from the Safeway.

Great noodle dishes and very homestyle. Also, if you are one to cook Thai food, the grocery store the cafe is attached to has everything you need. It's just as good as the mom & pop sit downs in Thailand.

Posted by: Khun David | July 14, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Neramitra

Great food, good service, and good people. It is near the temporary Arena Stage in Crystal City

Posted by: Arlington | July 15, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Don't use the tunnels to get to Neramitra (I work in CC and still get turned around). Exit the Metro to street level and go downhill on 18th St to Crystal Dr, then take a right and Neramitra is about 2 blocks down.

Thai Square is Metro-accessible via the constantly-running multitude of 16 series buses departing from either Pentagon or Pentagon City. I've been there twice and loved everything I've had (see the recommendations in the Post's annual dining guide or the Washingtonian's 100 Best for ideas) - and it's very reasonably priced.

Posted by: Clodilla | July 15, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm amazed no one's mentioned Rincome (http://www.rincomethai.com/), on Columbia Pike near Glebe Rd. Maybe because it's a nondescript-looking place with tacky decor in the lower level of a Days Inn, ensuring complete anonymity! But it's one of the most authentic Thai places around, and the family that runs it is very friendly and helpful if you're new to Thai food. All the standards -- pad thai, curries, crispy fish -- are excellent, but make sure to leave room for the mango-sticky rice dessert.

Posted by: Thaiphool | July 15, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Thai Kingdom on K Street (& 20th?) is the best bang for the buck. Also the decor is fantastic. Best kept (until now) secret in DC.

Posted by: Eric Wexler | July 15, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

If you are in southern Prince Georges, looking for Thai, try Bangkok Golden in Fort Washington. It's on Livingston Road in the Hunters Mill shopping center. Very good service if you want to eat in. The papaya salad and drunken noodles are excellent and spicy, as is everything else. I love their duck curry.

Posted by: Sparks | July 15, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Wheaton is the place to go for Thai food. If you want a whole in the wall place that serves really excellent food, try Ruan Thai. Its at the corner of Amherst and University Blvd (the tiny strip shopping center that also houses Provisions catering). Try the coconut milk and lemongrass soup with shrimp. SO DELICIOUS!!!

There are so many other places in the area that are whole in the walls. i think the Post did a story on Wheaton's Asian restaurants a few months ago?

Posted by: around | July 15, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, 'hole in the wall' (not whole).

Posted by: around | July 15, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

My DC favorite is definitly Bangkok Joe's in Georgetown. The noodle bowls are awesome and don't even get me started on the butternut squash potstickers!

Posted by: Jen | July 15, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I love thai food- thanks for all the great ideas!

I have to add PASA THAI in McLean and Bangkok 54 in Arlington (off of Colombia Pike). Both are amazing-- I strongly suggest the Panang Curry at PASA THAI, and the Veg. Pad Thai at Bangkok 54.

Posted by: Mclean/Arlington | July 15, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Sawatdee!! Yeah!! So glad you mentioned this one - has my favorite red curry anywhere outside of Bangkok. It's so fragrant I have to stop myself from licking the bottom of the bowl when it's all gone.

Posted by: Julie | July 15, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Read the user comments for that restaurant called Rice in Logan Circle. They're hilarious. Apparently the restaurant's manager will harass you if he feels you left a tip that was too low. (i.e. 20% of pre-tax bill). Nice. Sounds like a classy place.

Posted by: e | July 15, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I like 1Gen Thai in Ballston. It is on Glebe next to the Macy's end of Ballston mall, so a short stroll from the Metro.

And I have always been a fan of Sala Thai with their various Metro accessible locations including U Street and Clarendon.

Posted by: Glenn | July 15, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

You might not believe this, but try Ruby Thai in the food court of the Montgomery Mall on Democracy Boulevard in Bethesda, MD. The tomato chicken is ridiculous!

Posted by: Steve | July 15, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm American and my wife is Thai. We recommend the following restaurants: Bangkok 54 (Columbia Pike), and Pilin Thai (Falls Church/Route 7 - yellow awning). Bangkok 54 also has a pretty good Thai grocery store next door if you like to cook at home. In D.C., we like Thai Kingdom on K Street and 20th.

Many of the other restaurants downtown (Thaiphoon, etc) are passable but a bit watered down for the falang set. Arlington and Falls Church have some legit spots because there is actually a local Thai community. If you're lucky enough to have at least one Thai speaker in your dinner party, you are sure to get top notch service and "real" Thai food. Even as an American, it is quite noticable to me when I get the "real" stuff because my wife is along, as opposed to going with some guys from work and getting the less spicy/flavorful stuff because the Thai staff tries to be nice to weak stomached falangs. Bangkok 54 in particular throws it into high gear if you take a native speaker, I highly recommend it.

Posted by: Rory | July 15, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Neramitra - are you guys crazy? I work across the street, have been there several times and have never had anything better than mediocre American-Thai. However, just around the corner in the quainter part of Crystal City is a little Thai restaurant called Urban Thai that has great food, a nice atmosphere, very friendly staff, and solid lunch specials. It is at 561 23rd Street... skip Kanlaya, go there instead!!

Posted by: Crystal City worker | July 16, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I second Rice, but I'd also offer up Regent Thai on 18th street. Somehow its flavors are more complex to me than a lot of the sticky-sweet stuff around town - seems a cut above. Handsome dining room, too.

Posted by: logan | July 18, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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