Interview by Amy Henderson, Cleveland Park Main Street volunteer

Paragon Thai restaurant opened in Cleveland Park’s historic “Park & Shop” in 2013.  Owners Kwansuda “Pam” Poolsombat and Araya Sreearayanpong both immigrated from Thailand in 2001, though they didn’t meet until they both worked at a Thai restaurant in Rockville.

When they decided to open their own restaurant, research persuaded them that Cleveland Park would be a great location. The neighborhood had a reputation for friendly people, and the nearby Cleveland Park Metro provided a constant flow of people visiting the nearby National Zoo.

“Customer service” is the priority at Paragon Thai. Pam and Araya work hard to please their clientele–a mission that includes finding the most authentic Thai cooking staples for their menu.  Ingredients like tamarind and other spices, coconut milk, rice, noodles, hot sauce, and the infamously “hot” Thai red chili peppers are all ordered from Thailand. Even though similar varieties are available on U.S. grocery shelves, Pam insists on ordering the authentic Thai versions–she says she wants her customers to experience the real thing!

Customers enjoy bringing their families to Paragon Thai, and often write effusive letters of appreciation that Pam and Araya treasure. One wrote, “You’re my favorite and I have recommended you to every friend I have,” while another signed a fan letter by the name and order the owners would recognize—”Edna: Chardonnay and a diet coke and something with chicken.”

Visit them at 3507 Connecticut Ave NW and online at You can order for pickup or delivery directly from their website!

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