Are your taste buds tired of the same old lunches and dinners? Do you absolutely love the best hot dogs in DC and the best pizza in Washington, DC but sometimes crave something a bit more ethnic? You might want to head to these local restaurants, serving the best Thai food in DC—from satay to dumplings, noodles, pad thai and more, these eateries offer delicious fare in both authentic and modern settings. And if the exotic meal has left you incredibly energized, you’ll want to finish off your outing at the best jazz clubs in DC.
Best Thai food in Washington, DC
Johnny Monis was just 24 when he opened Komi, the Greek-inspired restaurant that vaulted him to culinary stardom. For his second place, Little Serow, he took inspiration from northern Thailand. As at Komi, there is no menu; $45 gets you a family-style meal of about seven dishes. Flavors are bright and bold, and the heat can be intense. The menu changes weekly, but dishes might include snakehead fish with bamboo shoots and rice powder or pork ribs with whiskey and dill. The restaurant can only accommodate groups of up to four and doesn’t take reservations, but the staff will text you when a table frees up.
Located on the second level of Tsunami Sushi on 14th Street, this restaurant within a restaurant serves one of the city’s meanest plates of pad thai. Dishes hail from every region of Thailand, with standouts including the milky Tom Yum noodle soup with roasted pork and ground chicken. Perhaps the best part: Although this hidden gem is in a pretty popular neighborhood, it’s usually fairly easy to find a table.
This family-run restaurant earns high marks for staying true to traditional Thai tradition: many dishes follow the owner’s family recipe book and the walls are adorned with sepia-toned snapshots of the founder’s ancestors. Menus are essentially identical at both the Shaw and Mount Pleasant locales, though the latter offers a spicy pork stew worth driving out of your way for.
Doi Moi is your spot if you like your Thai food with a side of fusion and flair. The 14th Street hotspot serves polished Southeast Asian cuisine, including Thai-style fried marinated beef and Vietnamese marinated pork ribs. Ever accommodating, the restaurant also offers gluten-free and vegetarian options. Don’t overlook the carefully concocted cocktails and, if you’re still thirsty by the time you pay your bill, just head downstairs to sister speakeasy Two Birds One Stone.
The secret is out on this charming restaurant that started out as a humble takeaway joint in the owner’s home on Florida Avenue. It has since grown into one of the hardest reservations to snag with a new, BYOB location in Shaw. It’s a dream for indecisive diners, as chef Taw Vigsittaboot serves a rotating tasting menu based on the freshest ingredients available—but always expect (and order!) the signature pumpkin curry.
Based on common Thai street foods, the menu (and interior) at Soi 38 is designed to reflect Bangkok’s open air night markets. The dining room can be just as bustling, with guests enthusiastically ripping into skewered meats and rustic curries. Don’t be afraid of a little spice—especially since the extensive beverage and cocktail menu will help you wash down any fiery bites you decide to indulge in.
This Logan Circle standard has satisfied DC slurpers for years. Following a redesign, the noodle house better reflects the sleek area that surrounds it. The space is intimate, meaning you can easily hear the clinks of woks over the buzzy conversations while waiting for your skewered meat, dumplings and salads. The venue also leads a swift take-out business, just in case you’d rather devour your meal at home.
Our favorite spot to enjoy the chef’s Asian classics is up top, in the space’s mezzanine section. From here, observe what’s going on all around the bustling restaurant while admiring the masterful sushi chefs working at the counter below. This Dupont Circle spot also offers an excellent happy hour program that includes $4 glasses of wine and sake as well as select nigiri sushi and maki rolls for under $5.
Recipes dating back generations are the stars of the menu at this family-owned restaurant. With nearly ten locations throughout the D.C. area, Tara Thai does its part to bring classic, flavor-rich Thai dishes and sushi to the masses. Offerings range from standard favorites (think pad thai and larb gai) to modern takes on classics, like the Bangkok wings dish and the tilapia sautéed in hot chili paste.
Helmed by the same family behind Beau Thai’s success, BKK Cookshop serves a sleek menu of classic street food dishes and over a dozen noodle bowls and stir fries (the coconut noodle bowl is an absolute must). Head to the corner patio for a pleasant meal outdoors when the weather permits it.
Regent Thai’s menu highlights the cuisine of four different regions in Thailand: north, northeast, central plains and the south. Expect to find dishes packed with heat, a few raw items, plenty of seafood and creamy, coconut-laced broths. Do also anticipate a bit of pageantry when it comes to the food’s presentation: think noodles served in carved out pineapples and elaborate garnishes.