There aren’t many Laotian restaurants in town, but you’d probably keep going back to Thip Khao even if there were. The menu is big and has everything from coconut sticky rice and khao soi to pigs ear and fermented snakehead. It’s all excellent, and we recommend eating it family-style so you can taste as much as possible. The only mistake you can really make is to overestimate your spice tolerance. When your waiter says you won’t be able to handle a certain dish, trust them.
The Columbia Heights space isn’t the most convenient to get to, but this is food worth the travel time. Round up everyone who will make the trek, and be sure to tell the know-it-all of the group, “I told you so” when he goes for the hottest thing on the menu.