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photo credit: Reema Desai

Sura image
8.3

Best New Restaurants

2023

Sura

Thai

Dupont Circle

$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsCasual Weeknight Dinner
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If you blink as you’re walking down P Street, you might miss Sura, a basement restaurant in Dupont Circle with a paper-plastered door and some of the best Thai street food in the city. 

Skip the four-seat bar near the entrance and slide into a half-bench, half-chair table tiny enough to spoon-feed the person across from you (but only if that’s not weird). Your eyes will adjust pretty quickly to the underground lighting and the smooth sounds of American contemporary music will ease you into your seat.

The meals are fresh and fast—so fast that you might wonder if they brought you someone else’s dinner by mistake. Fret not, that really is your bowl of steaming spicy belly rice that has been set in front of you. Like all good street food, you start eating with your nose long before you pick up your fork. And while the smells don’t come wafting outside to float you down the dimly-lit hallway like a cartoon character, you will breathe deeply every time something hot is set down.

Family-style is the way to go here, so grab a friend or a date and taste your way through the menu. Everything is under $20, so it’s possible to down a few dishes, a couple of drinks, and dessert without breaking the bank. They’re not going to make substitutions (the cucumber belly salad comes with a warning that it is “not recommended for novices”), but you shouldn’t need them since every dish is impressive as is. The exceptions: some dishes can be made meatless and you can ask them to adjust certain spice levels.

Sura is worth searching for thanks to its fragrant meals and fast service, so put on your explorer cap and get to work. Even on the most hectic night, you’re unlikely to wait long for your food and the flavors will be bold and bright.

The menu at Sura changes frequently, but here are a few examples of the dishes you might find here.

Food Rundown

Sura image

photo credit: Reema Desai

Calamari

While the calamari has a crunchy tempura-esque batter and the squid is the perfect amount of chewy, the real star of this dish is the chili and garlic sauce. The tangy spiced sweetness makes the calamari go from good to irresistible. Don’t be ashamed if you just swig a spoonful of the sauce because we did, too.
Sura image

photo credit: Reema Desai

Spicy Belly Rice

This bowl lives up to the spice level (it’s not Thai spicy, but has a nice kick) and has a great portion size. They don’t skimp on the ingredients, so you’ll have plenty of belly, basil and chilis to last until your final grain of rice. The pork belly’s rich meaty flavor and the expertly cooked rice are a treat for your mouth.

Cucumber & Belly Salad

The cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans are crisp and bursting with the freshness that immediately perks up your body. They’re soaked in fish sauce, which is pungent, but not overpowering and the pork belly has the same delicious taste that you’ll find in the spicy belly rice.
Sura image

photo credit: Reema Desai

Chicken Himapan

Don’t be surprised if you feel like the dish is doing lots of things in your mouth. We loved all the individual elements, from the perfectly fried chicken and light sauce to the cashews and ginkgo nuts, but it all seemed to just be thrown into the bowl.
Sura image

photo credit: Reema Desai

Lychee Crème Brûlée

This crème brûlée is the kind that anyone would enjoy, even if they don’t like creme brulee. Loaded with chunks of lychee and a perfectly caramelized sugar crust, it’s definitely on the sweet side. Grab a spoon and dig in.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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