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Best of Arlington 2019

Esaan Tumbar

Best Restaurant Service

Photo by Skip Brown

Even if the Northeastern Thai cooking at Esaan Tumbar wasn’t amazing (which it is), we’d still go back for the warm, gracious service imparted by its co-owner, Tu Yutthphon, and his manager, Supannee Pipatanasuk. Guests are welcomed into the diminutive, 40-seat restaurant on Old Chain Bridge Road as if it were a private home. The hosts mix up and serve cocktails themselves, then walk you through the menu’s delights (oh, those papaya salads!) step by step. Be sure to ask about the “secret menu,” which recently included grilled squid salad and crispy pork with sticky rice and tamarind sauce.

–David Hagedorn