Image: Interior art at Baan Thai
UPDATE: Baan Thai closed at the end of 2019. Chef P’Boom plans to open Baan Siam in Mt. Vernon in 2020.
Last Visited: June 2019
A treasure resides on 14th Street through an inconspicuous door and up the stairs. At Baan Thai you can usually walk in and, in short order, treat yourself to some of the best Thai food around. The force behind the place is Chef Jeeraporn Poksupthong. A few years back she would make dishes for family dinners at another restaurant. The afternoon staff meal cooking was too good to keep off a menu, and now it is the backbone of Baan Thai.
The plating is vibrant in presentation. With many cuisines, it seems the colors get brighter the closer you get to the equator, and that is certainly the case here. They also get spicier. Be prepared, even medium heat will leave a tear in your eye. The menu is anchored to Northern Thai cuisine. The green mango salad is a classic. The curries have layers of flavors that can’t been found in many “slop and serve” versions. They do not dumb down the dishes here. Pad Thai is missing from the menu (on purpose), which is good because you’ll be brave and try something new. Sushi is also served, but I’ve never tried it.
The décor is bright and the space is surprisingly large. There are no reservations during the week. The service is swift and courteous, and if you ask, they might start talking about the food as if they were in sales not service. The drink list is solid and affordable, including sake, beer, wine and cocktails. The bar is in the back, so when dining solo, don’t be befuddled if you don’t spot it immediately. Along with Great Wall, and Da Hong Pao up the street, locals near this stretch have some of the best Asian food this side of the ‘burbs.
Other Guidance: Dress is casual. GF, V options are multiple.
Rating: Worth Paying the Cab (which you’ll make up for on the final tab)
Neighborhood: 14th Street
Address: 1326 14th St NW, Washington DC
Reservations: Walk-in only. But waits are rare. (on weekends, they sometimes seem to take them, so you may want to give them a call)
Washington Post: Unreviewed by Tom, praised by Tim.
Tyler: “This is one of three or four local places with real Thai food, and thus one of the best dining spots in DC.”