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Favorite Thai restaurants in D.C., nothern Virginia?

Need to hear about your favorite places for Thai.

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  1. Thai Square and Bangkok 54 end up on the top of the lists nearly always. Both on Columbia Pike, Arlington.

    In Herndon/Reston there is Tarin Thai near Elden/Herndon Pkwy and imo has better food by a small measure over Thai Luang, which is Elden near Ffx county pkwy, though the latter is very good. In Herndon forget about the one in the clock tower *yuck imo* and there's a spot near the KMart center, very close to Euro Bistro that has had decent places in the past but they never can stay open for some reason.

    I've eaten at two places downtown, Thai-tanic on 14th and a place on P, in the basement (forgetting the name). While each is good, the two in Arlington are clearly better, and I'd give the edge to the two good ones in Herndon/Reston over those two in DC as well.

    1. Paya Thai, corner of Rt. 123 and Old Courthouse in Tysons.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Meg

        And for the record, I have big holes in my history with Paya Thai as mentioned, and Pilin Thai, in Falls Church, right by the intersection of 7 and 29.

      2. Thai Square, Bangkok 54, Duangrat's, Rabiang, Crystal Thai, Supee's Kitchen (now has a new name, can't remember what it is). Supee's Kitchen is the former wonderful Thai House which was on Wilson Blvd. Maybe now called Siam Sala, but it still has the Thai House/Supee people in the kitchen.

        I am in Thai food heaven where I live....Yay! Arlington. And yes I know some are in Falls Church, but still very close.

        Crystal Thai, BTW, has been sold. But it's still very good.

        1. Ooo yay...I love Thai food...and I think there are plenty of good options in NoVa and DC...I'm going to make a list of my favorites:

          • Thaiphoon (two locations: Pentagon Row & Dupont...get the Spicy Eggplant appetizer and Panang Chicken)
          • Cafe Asia (Rosslyn, Asian Fusion restaurant...they have very good Panang and Pad Thai... not to mention great sushi)
          • Thai Noy (Westover/Arlington next to the Lost Dog Cafe...very good Pad See Ew and Mekong Chicken...very sweet though.)
          • Pad Thai (Fairfax, on Lee Hwy...they have very good lunch specials)

          My staple Thai dishes include: Pad Thai (of course), Pad See Ew, Panang Curry, Massaman Chicken, Drunken Noodle, Basil Chicken or Beef and Tom Kha Gai Chicken Soup...oh and if mangoes are in season...you must get Mango and Sticky Rice!

          And I'm looking forward to trying Rice (DC) in the next couple of weeks...a good friend of mine recommended it.

          7 Replies
          1. re: AlliantK

            Hope you're not disappointed with Rice. Too trendy! More emphasis on decor than atmosphere or more importantly taste.

            1. re: mlatt326

              Oops...oh well...the friend I'm taking is totally into trendy places...so I'm sure she'll love it! Plus she's been living in Baton Rouge for about 4 months now (after living in DC for several years) so I'm sure she'll be glad to be back in the city and try one of it's many trendy places! Thanks for the heads-up though!

              1. re: mlatt326

                AlliantK The vegetarian mushroom soup at Rice is great.

                1. re: mlatt326

                  Actually, I've been favorably impressed with the quality and imagination of the cooking at Rice on two or three visits. Decent wines by the glass, too.

                  The only downside from my point of view is that it tends to be thunderously loud when busy.

                2. re: AlliantK

                  Yech, Cafe Asia? terrible to say the least.

                  1. re: jpschust

                    Their Thai food is awful but their curry laksa is actually very good... Malaysia Kopitiam is (was?) better but too "authentic" for a lot of people. Cafe Asia is easy to take for granted until you leave DC

                  2. re: AlliantK

                    I've been to Rice a couple of times in the past few weeks, and I've loved it both times. It doesn't have everything you'd want in a Thai restaurant, but it's nice for a change.

                  3. In addition to Thai Square and Bangkok 54, I recommend Tong Thai in University Mall in Fairfax.

                    Dennis_S, have you tried Tong Thai yet?

                    I've never been impressed by Duangrat's. While they have nice decor (I seem to recall tablecloths and a live musician), I think you can get better food elsewhere.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mattm

                      I haven't. I only saw the first mention of it a week or two ago here. Thanks for the reminder!

                    2. Favorite Thai in DC is Regent Thai on 18th, near T, in Dupont. Very fresh tasting and a beautiful setting.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jmasek

                        I 2nd the Regent Thai. Very friendly service...excellent (strong) drinks...and great Thai food. I went there on a whim after being sick of standing in line at Lauriol Plaza and I'm so happy I ended up there.

                      2. I don't normally share a secret this good, but Po Siam in Arlandria, north of the Birchmere, just south of the Wafle House (sic); Yum roast duck, steamed mussles.

                        1. We really loved the Bangkok 54 in Arlington when we visited - so much so we had dinner there and then returned for lunch a few days later.

                          1. I am convinced that there are more Thai restuarants than McDonalds in the DC area. I've tried almost all of them. There is one clear winner: Thai Square with Bangkok 54 not too far behind. All the rest are too Americanized; they are designed to appeal to what Thai owners think Americans think when they think of Thai food. Got that? Prime example is Dungrat's or Tara Thai. Or they do not use authentic Thai recipes or ingredients. Many are ok but just nothing special. Stay away from "fusion" restaurants that try to be everything to everyone, e.g., Cafe Asia.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Dakota Guy

                              I understand what you are saying...but I think saying "stay away" from places like Cafe Asia is a little strong. While it might not be truly authentic...there are definitely some great dishes to be had. And the sushi is very tasty. The poster didn't ask for only authentic restaurants...they asked for our favorite Thai places. Cafe Asia is also a great place for a large party who wants a cool and different atmosphere than most asian restaurants.

                              1. re: AlliantK

                                Perhaps "stay away" is a bit strong but I can't imagine why anyone would go there unless you want "a cool and different atmoshere." Certainly I wouldn't go there for the food; there is much much better Thai, sushi, etc., elsewhere and at lower prices.

                            2. I have lived in this area for over 22 years and have eaten at most of the Thai restaurants (especially when they were far and few between - now it's like Starbucks, one on each corner) and my favorites are Thai Square and Thai Noy in Arlington. Thai Square has to be the most authentic Thai (I lived in Bangkok for 9 years) I have tasted. There are others which will do when you can't make it over to Thai Square (I can't remember if I've been to Bangkok 54, but with the raves it got on this page, I'll have to try it again) but if anyone tells you to try Tara Thai or Duangrats - do not listen. I don't know what they rave about. Tara Thai is ok if that's the only Thai you've got within walking distance but it's too Americanized. I also don't know why people rave about Neisha - their dishes are none I've ever eaten in Thailand. Crystal Thai used to be good, but they've gone downhill in the last few years. Thai Palace in Chantilly is ok, but pricey for what you're getting. In Herndon, try Thai Palms. They have the Thai style noodle soups and a good lunch buffet. Pattaya Thai in Sterling is also pretty decent.

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: mlatt326

                                Where is Thai Palms?

                                Have you tried Tarin Thai at Elden/Herndon Pkwy, behind the Chipotle, near the Giant? What are your thoughts on it and Thai Luang in comparison with Thai Palms?

                                1. re: Dennis S

                                  Thai Palms is 410 Elden Street in Herndon (off Elden Street in the K-Mart shopping center, there's a whole bunch of restaurants to eat in there including a Five-Guys and a Hard Times).

                                  I've tried Tariin Thai for lunch a couple times and it was OK. Not bad, but I haven't tried Thai Luang.

                                  1. re: mlatt326

                                    Nice, thanks. I'll be checking it out this week for lunch most likely.

                                    I know the K-Mart area very well - lots of good eats there. Have you yet tried the place just east of there, where Euro Bistro is? The last couple of places weren't great, but they weren't bad either. Somehow, no one restaurant seems to last there, but the replacement is always Thai.

                                    1. re: Dennis S

                                      I tried Thai Palms today to much disappointment I'm sorry to say. I did, for the first time in my life, go to a thai buffet, and I suspect (hope) that's the problem. Even the larb gai, which I make at home and let sit around for a while was uninspiring.

                                      It did attract a crowd, which made me sick for them, and I didn't order off the menu. I know you spoke of the soups (I had the tom yum gang which was also uninspiring but also part of the buffet). I will try it again, probably on a Saturday and order off the menu (I've noticed that generally kitchens maintaining a buffet give short shrift to ordered plates as a general trend).

                                      Service was great and decor was nice, but of course this board is about the food.

                                      You also said you haven't been there in a while. I know in that same place was a different restaurant that was great, but somehow went out of business (many posts of it about 3-4 years ago). Maybe TP used to be better and has slid.

                                      For both of us, I'll try the new one just east of it a few hundred yards and report back. Certainly for anyone else looking, in Reston/Herndon, I put Tarin thai and Thai Luang ahead, and even the woeful place in the clock tower (paya thai?)

                                      1. re: Dennis S

                                        I tried the other place in Herndon today - Thai Towne is the (awful) name of it. It is in the strip just to the east of the K-Mart complex, near Euro Bistro. It has an outdoor patio which worked well for the beautiful weather today.

                                        This is also the place that has changed names, decor, etc. about 3-4 times since '99 yet is always a thai place.

                                        The food is good, but not great. I rank it below Tarin and Luang, but far above Thai Palms and the godawful place in the clock tower.

                                        1. re: Dennis S

                                          Update: The space that was Thai Palms is something new again. This time it has both Thai and Sushi in the name(!). For those of you who remember, this is the space across from KMart in Herndon that had Van's Vietnamese - which was well liked on the board. Since then, it's been one sorrow after another, in terms of quality.

                                  2. re: mlatt326

                                    Duangrat's has changed over the years and become less authentic. But they are responding to their audience, I imagine. It's a wonderful place for a festive occasion and the food can be scrumptious, just not as authentic as a place like Thai Square. Duangrat's is upscale Westernized Thai food, but still very yummy. I don't think I'd like to go to Thai Square for a birthday celebration, but Duangrat's would be great. Does anyone remember when Duangrat's had Khantoke? That was fantastic. I wish they'd bring it back.

                                    BTW, I am pretty Thai-food savvy. Spent many years in Thailand like some others on the board. Thai food is wonderful; I'm spoiled by having my early life taste buds affected by Thai cooking. Nothing else compares, IMO.

                                    1. re: mlatt326

                                      Gee, I feel bad that you think Crystal Thai has gone downhill. I love Crystal Thai. They make great honey-roasted duck, pad lard na with beef, guay dew kaw (just trying to phoneticize it). I went to Bangkok 54 a couple of times and loved their duck spring rolls, but didn't like their wide noodle dishes very much. Please don't give up on Crystal because I don't want them to go out of business--it is one of my regular go-to restaurants.

                                      1. re: Mulan

                                        Do you know that Mr. Boon sold Crystal Thai a couple months ago? I think it's still very good.

                                      2. re: mlatt326

                                        What do you like at Thai Noy? I've been unimpressed the 2 times I've tried it.

                                        1. re: kcm19

                                          Pad See Ew with Chicken and Massaman Chicken...also I think their Pad Thai is good but a lot of places have decent Pad Thai.

                                          1. re: kcm19

                                            Try the crispy chili fish or the pad see-ew.

                                        2. Sorry - not sure where that is. I don't work in that area any more (not since March) but I have been back just for Thai Palms a couple times since.

                                          1. One place that still hasn't been mentioned is Thai-X-ing near Howard U. It's on Florida in the 500 block. I assume it still exists. Pretty much carryout only (a couple of very small tables). Only open from 4-10 pm or something like that (used to be open for lunch but no more). Very idiosyncratic. He starts chopping up the stuff after you place your order, but has an interesting collection of reading matter for while you wait. Very authentic food.

                                            If anybody has an update on this place please post. I haven't been for months.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: johnb

                                              I live very close to Thai Xing, and have had the food twice. Both times it was very good, but MAN it takes FOREVER. The last time we tried to eat there, we called in the order at around 7pm, and were told to call back in about an hour to see if it was ready. So we called at 8pm, and he said it would be a little bit longer. So we called at 8:30pm, and he said it would be another HOUR. I cancelled the order. It's good food, but it ain't THAT good.

                                            2. ditto on bangkok 54 and a few others. has anyone tried urban thai in crystal city. pretty good.

                                              1. We ate at Neisha at Tyson's Corner Mall 2 weeks ago- it was excellent-
                                                The Pad Thai was great, as was the salmon in banana leaves..

                                                1. No one ever seems to mention Sawatdee Thai in Courthouse Plaza (Arlington). I think it is fantastic and authentic, as do my friends who grew up on their Mom's Thai cooking (They introduced me to it) . I especially love their curries. Have had several great fish/seafood dishes as well. Their pad thai and other noodles have been tasty.

                                                  Another place I really like, that has a family-run/hole-in-the-wall quality to it is Ghin Na Rhee Restaurant located in arlington at 2509 Harrison St. (off Lee Hwy in the plaza with Harris Teeter). The food has always been excellent and the staff is extremely friendly and accomodating. A friend of mine has a wheat/gluten intolerance, and they always remember her and recommend dishes that are 'safe' for her or offer to remove 'unsafe' ingredients from other dishes.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: julialimei

                                                    I've eaten well at both places, particularly at Ghin Na Ree, where some of the appetizers are sized as main courses. A combination of the yum nua (the quality of the beef is amazing)and the shrimp wrapped in wonton skins is as good a meal as there is in the DC area.

                                                    But the reason why Thai Square comes up so often is the depth of the menu and how much of it is Chow worthy.

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      I tried to eat at Ghin Na Ree a couple months ago, but the proprietor wouldn't let me order anything except one of the lunch specials. You don't want my $$? Ok, fair enough.

                                                      1. re: Bob W

                                                        You're right. Their lunch service is limited. I forgot to mention that. It's strange, but to get the better stuff you have to go for dinner.

                                                    2. re: julialimei

                                                      yes i have gone to ghin na ree for many years...close to 20. excellent food. the last owner (not the current) was the sister of the owner of sala thai (i think).

                                                      1. re: julialimei

                                                        I second Sawatdee- I live right behind it and never feel the need to go any further. It is delicious and priced reasonably as well. I am a very loyal customer.

                                                      2. My father is Thai and the only restaurants he deems acceptable are Thai Square @ Glebe & Columbia Pike in Arlington (which has Americanized its flavors some over the past 10 years) but is still quite good and Po Siam near Arlandria in South Arlington.

                                                        At Po Siam, try the boat noodle soup - a traditional fisherman's dish and at Thai Square, try the crispy fried duck, the chinese broccoli with crispy pork. Just a little something to add variety to the usual Thai standbys of curry, peanut sauces, and salads.

                                                        My family hates Duangrat's. Haven't yet tried Bangkok 54, but hear good things. Alas, nothing beats Thailand, where you can get a bowl of duck noodle soup for less than 75 cents.

                                                        1. The best Thai food in Northern VA is Thai Square, followed by Thai Basil. Thai Basil doesn't seem to get a mention, probably because it's so far out of the way in Chantilly, but this is where my husband goes when he wants "Mom's cooking."

                                                          The worst is Tara Thai. I know lots of Thais and everyone agrees it is not very authentic.

                                                          I eat at Crystal Thai because it is close to work, but I think they lean too much to the sweet side to be called authentic, and trying to get them to make anything spicy is near impossible.

                                                          10 Replies
                                                          1. re: jiminica

                                                            I agree. Thai Square is probably the best. I'd like to try Thai Basil.

                                                            My husband and found a place in Centreville. It's fairly new, called Bangkok City. It's not the most authentic, but the food there is decent but the best part is that it's only 5 minutes away from where we live. The atmosphere is nice (clean, modern). I hope it gets enough business so we don't have to drive a long way when we are craving Thai.

                                                            Another place we liked (since it was the closest to us) is Thai Palace off Rt. 50/Rt. 28 in Chantilly, but I think it's $1/$2 more expensive per dish for less food so I haven't been there in quite a while since you can go somewhere else for better food for less money.

                                                            1. re: mlatt326

                                                              Is Bangkok City the one in the Multiplex shopping center off Rt 28 by the Shopper's Food Warehouse?

                                                              I'm surprised no one's mentioned Sakoontra in the Price Club plaza off Lee Hwy and West Ox Road. It's pretty good, and Tom Siestma has given it good reviews.

                                                              1. re: dpan

                                                                I'll second Sakoontra. We've always been pleased with their food.

                                                                Another place in the vicinity is Star Thai in Fair Lakes. We don't like it as much as Sakoontra, but it's been there for a while -- anyone have some thoughts on it?

                                                                A new Thai place called Sweet Rice has opened on Broad St in Falls Church across from the Giant. Anyone tried it?

                                                                1. re: dpan

                                                                  Yes, BKK City is between Shoppers and Sears in the Multiplex shopping center.

                                                                  I like Sakoontra too - not crazy about their soft/fresh eggroll but overall it's decent. I like their pad see-ew and crispy duck.

                                                                  1. re: dpan

                                                                    I'll dissent on Sakoontra. I ate there a couple years ago and wasn't impressed by the food, which was somewhat greasy without being as flavorful as other restaurants like Thai Square, Bangkok 54, or Tong Thai. Sietsema seems to value decor, which was pretty nice. I rate the food at Sakoontra as okay, but would prefer to satisfy my Thai cravings elsewhere.

                                                                    1. re: mattm

                                                                      I agree with MattM on Sakoontra. The food was average, some good, some bad. The waitress was excellent at explaining the dishes and serving us--however, the owner is a boor. My 3 y.o daughter, with whom we eat out frequently, had spilled some rice on the carpet during the course of dinner. Since it's basmati rice, it's not sticky, and hadn't really fallen in a clump so that I could pick it up. I pointed it out to the waitress when she was clearing our dishes, and she seemed amused and said it was no biggie. Next thing we know, the owner is pulling the waitress over and publicly berating her. He makes one of us get up and has her vaccuum under the table because he says it will ruin the carpet. There was another couple with us, and we were embarrassed beyond belief and in a state of shock that he would get so made at her (and us). Anyway, we gave her a big tip--the owner was watching us, and, as we were walking out the door, stormed over to see how much we were giving her. How rude!

                                                                  2. re: mlatt326

                                                                    If you like Thai Palace, try Thai Basil- 100x better. It's just slightly west of the Rte 28 interchange. Get off Rte 28 onto 50W and take an almost immediate left at the first traffic light which I think is Airline Road. There's a shopping center on the left (and a brand new one on the right) Drive all the way around the left shopping center, bearing left. Thai Basil is at the far end of the center, almost at the end, hidden from the road. The owner is Nangkran Daks. She's often in the restaurant playing hostess.

                                                                    Sakoontra is good too, though as we are farther west now, we tend to stick to the things out towards Centreville.

                                                                    A new place opened up in Sully Station a couple months ago called Sila Thai. We've eaten there 2x. Very good also. Their crispy duck is excellent, and the sundried beef isn't as good as my husband's auntie's but it comes close.

                                                                    1. re: jiminica

                                                                      I still can't get a hold of where Thai Basil is, but I can google it. Am looking forward to trying it.

                                                                      1. re: mlatt326

                                                                        Thai Basil is in a classic, tired, NoVa strip center on the south side of Route 50 just west of Route 28. The name of the plaza is Chantilly Park Center, but the odds of finding anyone who knows it by that name are slim. Also, Thai Basil is almost hidden from view -- it's a couple doors to the left of Merchant's Tire.

                                                                        Also in the same strip are Minerva, part of the popular local Indian mini-chain, Picante! The Real Taco (which also runs the Picante Burrito Express in the group of shops between Chantilly Park Center and Lee Rd to the east), and Rawal Kabob, a very casual Pakistani joint that is not bad at all.

                                                                        A new strip recently opened just west of this one; it's got a Vietnamese eatery called Pho 98, a casual sandwich/coffee spot called Cafe Aroma, the Philly Cheesesteak Connection, and Paisano's, a pizza/subs joint.

                                                                        All in all, this is now a fairly chowish neighborhood (there's also a Five Guys across Lee Rd in Chantilly Crossings, where Target and Costco are).

                                                                        1. re: Bob W

                                                                          I finally tried Thai Basil and I was very disappointed. My dish
                                                                          was so bland and tasteless (I tried the guay tiew) I had to
                                                                          douse it with nam pla to make it have any taste. The curry
                                                                          puffs which they spelled "kary" were also disappointing. The
                                                                          nua sod had a nice taste but was overcooked.

                                                                          My stepson had the drunken noodles and they were delicious; my
                                                                          friend had the pad wun sen and that was pretty good and another
                                                                          friend had the penang chicken. I didn't get a taste of the
                                                                          penang chicken but he said it was good - however, I've never
                                                                          seen carrots served in that dish before here or in Thailand.

                                                                          I think I'll stick to BKK City when it comes to going for Thai
                                                                          food close by Centreville. The service was terrible. The girl
                                                                          that waited on us put us in the far corner (by the bathrooms)
                                                                          when there were plenty of tables for 4 available (there were
                                                                          only 2 other tables being used in the whole restaurant) and she
                                                                          was so unfriendly I actually did something I haven't done in a
                                                                          very long time - left less than a 15% tip (I usually leave at
                                                                          least 20%).

                                                                2. Has anyone tried Chala Thai in Merrifield? (in the same shopping center as the 5 guys on Gallows Road) I had takeout from there recently and thought it was delicious, but I'm no expert on the authenticity of Thai food (I do love Bangkok 54 though).

                                                                  1. Sounds like there are mixed reviews here of Duangrat's, but what about Rabieng?

                                                                    1. Rabieng has a wonderful weekend Thai dim sum selection. Actually small plates would be a better description. Very inexpensive and very fine. I think Rabieng is quite authentic and the atmosphere is lovely.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: dumpling

                                                                        Thanks! I went to Rabieng today, and everything we had was delicious!

                                                                      2. Have you tried Sila Thai Cuisine yet? They just opened it for a couple months and I went there more than 10 times already. The crispy duck with basil, Sizzling Beef, and Panang Jumbo Shrimp are the best. Sundried Beef, Shrimp Cake, and Shrimp Blanket are also delicious...
                                                                        You can check out their website too. www.silathaicuisine.com

                                                                        1. A great Thai restaurant that rarely gets mentioned is Bangkok Blues in Falls Church. It's definitly not your normal Thai restaurant. It's a music venue with awesome Thai food...there's live music every night, usually of the blues, soul, and rock and roll.

                                                                          There's a cool backstory to the restaurant's owner that I think is on the website: http://www.bangkokbluesrestaurant.com...

                                                                          When I originally went I thought it would be good music with decent food...fun for a date night. Turns out the food was excellent and even pasted the test of my date who had just gotten back from spending 5 months in Thailand.