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50 Best Restaurants: Nam-Viet has been a local treasure for over 30 years

You’ll want to order everything from the newcomer on the menu (because it has to be good), to the classic lacquered baby back ribs.

Photo by Rey Lopez

By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano

Nam-Viet

Arlington | Vietnamese | $$

Not much has changed at the 30-plus-year-old Vietnamese restaurant, Nam-Viet, and no one is mad about that. But when there is an addition to the menu, it must mean it’s something good. The baby back ribs are a phenom: deep fried and lacquered with a sweet fish sauce, they are a carnivorous showpiece, meant to be eaten with the hands, to gnaw at the bone, to lick fingers, to let sticky sauce collect at the corners of the mouth. There is no way to be delicate around a display like this.

Of course, there are other treasures: the bubbly-fried crispy spring rolls; hu tien, a clear rice noodle soup, clean and aromatic; grilled short ribs where the char is so lovely and deep, eating the strips of fat even seems like a good idea.

Need a wake up from the pending coma? Order the Vietnamese iced coffee, which, for $1 more, comes complete with ice cubes born from cold-brew coffee. It’s an iced drink that actually gets stronger over time because sleep just means less time for eating. // 1127 N. Hudson St., Arlington

This post originally appeared in our November 2019 issue’s 50 Best Restaurants cover story. For more food reviews, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

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