The sign outside is unassuming and the inside––bearing nothing more than a few stools––may make newcomers wonder how Adam Express stays in business. But one bite into a fresh sushi roll or Korean entrée makes it all clear. Those who happen to snag one of two seats in front of the open kitchen can sit and watch as chefs prepare kimchee and bibimbap to order without flavor enhancers like MSG or chocolate syrup. Besides Korean specialties like chap chae––vermicelli noodles with shredded beef, veggies, and soy sauce––the chefs cook up a number of Chinese dishes such as fried rice and lomein, and blend Japanese and Korean traditions to make bulgogi sushi rolls, which feature marinated beef, crab cakes, and pickled radish.
If you’re looking for authentic Vietnamese food but don’t dare venture outside of DC proper, head to Pho Viet. This Columbia Heights café is owned by two Vietnamese immigrants who have brought their home country cooking to bear on a city already well-known for its international flair. As the name makes clear, brothy bowls of pho are the main menu attraction inside this brick-walled eatery. Tile floors and old-school chrome diner chairs don’t offer much more ambiance, but most diners are faced down toward the table anyway, casually slurping away at the sometimes-spicy Vietnamese noodle soup. There’s the lemongrass bowl, doused in red chilies, and many more served with off cuts, briskets and compact meatballs. Vermicelli bowls and rice plates round out the straightforward menu.
To get into Radius Pizzeria, you’ll have to first head up the main stairs of the building, then hang a left. But it’s the out-of-the-way location that helps to keep Radius feeling like a bit of a secret, while the interior – two long runs of tables and hardwood floors that push to the end of the room, where bay windows take in the street scene below – is too much fun to keep to yourself. That’s why plenty of Washingtonians can sneak off to grab a slice of New York-style pizza, but done up with interesting toppings. You’ll find lamb sausage, gorgonzola and feta cheeses, roasted pears and cauliflower as available options, along with starters like risotto balls and fried pickles. During happy hour, huge slices of cheese pizza are available for just $5, and other bar specials rotate in throughout the week, like half-off pasta on Tuesday nights.
Growing up in Thailand, Aschara loved helping out in the family kitchen. Her mother taught her how to cook at a young age, and she relished waking up early on the weekends to purchase food from the markets on her own. On those market days, she also gained a deep appreciation for the tasty food sold by street vendors, an appreciation that underlies her menus at Beau Thai. Those menus are packed with fresh, authentic Thai dishes, including a Sunday brunch inspired by the same street foods she loved as a young girl. Meanwhile, her friends and partners Ralph and Drew—natives of North Carolina—bring their own unique perspective to the restaurant, most notably in the craft cocktails poured at the full bar. Spicy, battered Beau Thai chicken pairs perfectly with a Thai basil gimlet, while a sparkling lemongrass cocktail made with homemade limoncello makes a bowl of homey noodle soup or green curry pork feel extra special.