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Spicey near National Zoo

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I did a search for dining near the zoo, but they all came up asking for kid-friendly. We are two very spice-loving adults and want to grab lunch before hitting the zoo - tomorrow! Indian, Thai, Good Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. We'll be taking the metro from Ballston and do not want to veer off course if possible. Time is a little tight. Options?

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  1. there's a small stretch of places right across Connecticut from the Woodley Park Metro. I can't in good faith remember any particular one, but try using Woodley Park as a search term (or just scan Woodley Park Hound's comments in that area) he or she has good instincts IMHO.

    1. I'd recommend getting off at the Cleveland Park metro, where there are many restaurants. It's about the same distance from the Woodley Park and Cleveland Park metro stations to the zoo, but from Cleveland Park it's downhill plus much better eating choices. There's a Vietnamese restaurant there (the pho is not recommended but otherwise good) as well as Indian... If you search Cleveland Park you'll get a better idea than I can give you. There's also the pan-Asian restaurant Spices, which might be perfect for you -- they've got a "suicide curry" if you're serious about spicey ;)

      There is Thai and Indian in Woodley Park, but nobody ever said it was good, I don't think (although Lebanese Taverna at Woodley Park might be a good option if you decide not to take my Cleveland Park advice).

      Just FYI, in case it's of interest, Rocklands Barbacue has a stand at the zoo, at the Great Ape House....

      5 Replies
      1. re: mselectra

        Nam Viet is the Vietnamese place at C Park and is one of my faves in the whole area. I think the Arlington location is a bit better, but that's neither here nor there.

        I've eaten from much of the menu and haven't had anything bad at all, but I'm a broken record about my faves, which is a cup of the sweet, spicy and sour soup and then the curried squid. If you're going just for spice, though, they end up putting out flavor (I can't recall any stand-out spicy dishes).

        The pho is northern style, which most Americans don't like. For me it's not that it's bad, but there is better pho elsewhere and their menu just shines.

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        Nam Viet Restaurant
        3419 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., washington, dc, DC 20008

        1. re: mselectra

          We took your advice and got out at Cleveland Park. Had a great lunch at Nam Viet. We had two noodle soups: Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef) and Hu Tieu (Pork & Shrimp). Both had great, complex flavors in the broth. A great find since we can't get good Vietnamese where we live. Thanks to everyone!

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          Nam Viet Restaurant
          3419 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., washington, dc, DC 20008

          1. re: mojoeater

            Glad you liked it. I'll have to try the Hu Tieu. I've had the Spicy Beef, though it's been too long for me on that one, too.

            1. re: Dennis S

              A squirt of sriracha and squeeze of lime made is deelish!

            2. re: mojoeater

              I missed this before, but so glad you had a good meal at Nam Viet, especially since you don't get good Vietnamese food often. Dennis S was a better person to recommend it, so glad he had weighed in. I haven't been there in a while (it's our usual spot before a movie at the Uptown) but I do think it's perfect for on the way to the zoo -- casual and quick and good food, too. I'll make a note of your and Dennis's recs for next time I'm there.

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              Nam Viet Restaurant
              3419 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., washington, dc, DC 20008