As noted a few days ago, longtime Wheaton Thai joint Suporn went kaput earlier this month. Coincidentally, holiday housecleaning here at Chez Me turned up the 2003 and 2004 Washingtonian Cheap Eats issues, both of which included Suporn, which had been eclipsed in recent years by Nava and Ruan, which were among Wheaton’s five restaurants on the 2010 list (Hollywood East, Full Key, and El Pollo Rico are the others). It was a reminder that for many years, Suporn was considered Wheaton’s (and indeed the region’s) go-to Thai food destination — and I don’t think it slipped so much as Nava and Ruan became awesome.
It’s interesting how Wheaton’s “cheap eats” food scene has evolved, even in just six or seven years. Of course, many places have been around a lot longer than that, so maybe it is an evolution of (a) quality or (b) mass media perception of quality or (c) some combination thereof. Only Hollywood East and El Pollo Rico are on all three lists (2003, 2004, and 2010). The 2003 list also included Good Fortune, Matamoros, Paul Kee, and a couple of places that no longer exist: Thanh Thanh (11423 Georgia, current site of Jose’s Grill at the north end of the grungy, blue-sign-themed strip mall just north of University) and Nam’s of Wheaton (11220 Georgia, current site of Grill Cancun in the grungy, non-thematic strip mall anchored by Dunkin’ Donuts and Kenny’s Surprisingly Decent Sub Shop), both Vietnamese. Paul Kee still has many fans, but GF and Matamoros are not even in the top five of their respective Chinese/Latino genres in Wheaton anymore.
The 2004 list was the same minus Thanh Thanh (belly up in 2003) and Paul Kee (no particular reason?). Still lots of good, cheap options here (Paul Kee, Full Key, New Kam Fong, Saigonese, any number of Peruvian/Salvadoran/Bolivian spots, plus Marchone’s and the taco trucks if we’re counting takeout-only), maybe a couple will make the 2011 list. Of course, Marchone’s has nothing to do with any evolution: they have been here since 1955.