Authentic Indian food is a cuisine that tends to divide diners. Some are committed to the hunt for the best Washington, DC restaurants serving dal, fiery chutneys, chat and thali, while others are content to munch dense samosas and neutered chicken tikka. Here are our picks for the best of the bunch.
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The best Indian food in Washington, DC
Bombay Club evokes not the multihued Mumbai of today but India in the time of the Raj, when English gentlemen could sit in restrained, masculine dining rooms and, presumably, cherry-pick the best of the subcontinent’s cuisine. Decorous waiters in penguin suits warn against the supposed heat of a non-threatening lamb vindaloo (thali platters, tandoori meats and Goan curries are also on offer); the menu offers discreet explanations of the various regional styles.
Rasika brings the delicacy of upmarket Indian cooking to Washington. One of restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s empire, which also includes the Oval Room, Bombay Club, 701, Ardeo+Bardeo and Bibiana, Rasika is under the creative eye of Vikram Sunderam, who ran the kitchen at London’s Bombay Brasserie for 14 years. Grouped into categories including "chaat", "tawa" and "tandoor", the menu covers much ground, with ample choices for both vegetarians and carnivores. Whatever you do, try the palak chaat, a signature dish of crispy baby spinach leaves dressed with yogurt that melts on the tongue.Other locations: Rasika West End, 1190 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, at M Street, Foggy Bottom (1-202 466 2500).
Top-quality, complex-flavored Indian food (the chef once plied his trade at Bombay Club) and an interesting wine list, without the worry of getting overly dressed up. Vegetarians love this place, where meatless dishes make up about a third of the menu—including the fabulous begumi khazana, a feast served on a silver platter.Other locations: 2400 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, at Calvert Street, Glover Park (1-202 333 3120).