Indian Food Guide
amiteshparikh | Aug 21, 2015 | 9:00AM |

This may surprise you, but we like to eat. A lot. Especially when it comes to Indian food. We’ve heard from a lot of people that D.C.’s Indian food game is lacking, so we took matters in our own hands (literally) and sampled the menu at a slew of Indian restaurants in and around the District. We were delighted to have put the rumors to rest and have prepared this guide to help you do the same! So put away those forks and knives, and get your taste buds ready for a spice invasion.

Rasika

  • 633 D St NW, Washington, DC 20004
  • 1190 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037

Best Thing to Try: Flash Fried Spinach Chips- CHAATS ON CHAATS!

It is impossible to talk about Indian food in D.C. without mentioning this District favourite. With two locations, one in Penn Quarter and one in West End, Rasika boasts a wide menu with a truly pan-Indian cuisine. You will find Bombay street food along with Zoroastrian/Parsi delicacies and North and South Indian curries. Make sure you try the Palak (spinach) Chaat! Also, the Patio in West End makes for a great date spot. – Amitesh Parikh

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Himalayan Heritage

  • 2305 18 th Street NW, Washington DC, 20009

Best Thing to Try: Indian Chinese – Paneer Chilli/ Chicken Chilli

Finally a place in the District that serves Indian Chinese food!!! If you think American Chinese food is good, you will DEFINITELY LOVE Indian Chinese food – the mixture of Chinese and Indian spices works sooooo well… mmm….. You absolutely HAVE to try the Chicken/Paneer Chilli, and the Gobi (cauliflower) Manchurian. – Amitesh Parikh

The Bombay Club

  • 815 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006

Best Thing to Try: Brunch!

Stay true to D.C.’s reputation as a city that brunches, and take part in perpetuating the stereotype of a D.C. Resident while indulging in some great Indian food! The Bombay Club’s Sunday brunch is one of the absolute best deals in the city ($32.00 per person). If you think Indian food and Champagne is not a good combo, be prepared to be surprised! While they have a great patio, the restaurant’s colonial theme provides a great respite from the outdoor heat. If you are not in the mood for Indian brunch, you should definitely try the truffle naan with any of the Indian curries.- Amitesh Parikh

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Le Mirch

  • 1736 Connecticut Ave NW
, Washington DC 20009

Best Thing to Try: Jackfruit Curry

You *know* that if you add a french “Le” before a name, that place is going to be F-A-N-C-Y! This restaurant, just a few blocks north of Dupont Circle, offers some delicious food, and has a great lunch buffet during the weekdays! Try the jackfruit curry or the ginger tuna. – Amitesh Parikh

Red Toque Cafe

  • 1701 6th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Best Thing to Try: Goat Biryani

This cute little neighbourhood joint offers a vast array of Indian and Mediterranean food. While the inside is very bare bones, the outside patio is adorable, and a mural offers a route for a suggested bike tour through Shaw. Definitely try the goat or the lamb biryani here. – Amitesh Parikh

Malgudi

  • 2400 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007

Best Thing to Try: Mendhu Vada, Rava Dosa

This is the only exclusively South Indian restaurant inside the District, and it does not disappoint. You have to try the Mendhu Vada or the Dahi Vada for appetizers, and then have a Dosa as your entree. If Indian crêpes are not your thing, the restaurant also offers a variety of South Indian curries that you will probably not find elsewhere in DC. – Amitesh Parikhgiphy-2

Salt and Pepper Grill

Best Thing to Try: Kari Pkora

Salt and Pepper Grill is a small halal take-out joint with two locations: on Georgia Avenue, and on North 14th St NW. They have a very good selection of home-styled dishes that are usually not served by Indian restaurants in the US. Try, for example, the Kari Pkora, or Bhindi (okra) Masala. – Amitesh Parikh

Zaika

  • 2800 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

Best Thing to Try: Raj Kachori, Paneer Tikka Masala, Daal Makhani, Gulab Jamun

Delicious Indian food, which the city is sorely in need of, comes to D.C. in the form of Zaika, where the cooking is a blend of authentic Indian as well as east-meets-west ideology. The restaurant may not be in D.C. proper, but Arlington is just a hop, skip, and jump away, especially when you take the Metro. The venue has indoor and outdoor seating, and you will find classic and modern items rarely available on most Indian restaurant menus. – Priya Konings

Zaika

Merzi

  • 415 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Best Thing to Try: Naan Roll with Lamb and the Creamy Tikka Masala

You know how Indian food can take a while? Well, no more! This Chipotle-styled restaurant allows you to build your own Indian meal with either rice, naan, or vegetables as the base. And it’s really good! – Amitesh Parikh

Teddy’s Roti Shop

  • 7414 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20012

Best Thing to Try: Chicken Bussupshut

While not “Indian,” one cannot discount the Indian influence over Surinamese, and Caribbean cuisines. This restaurant serves “Roti” which is a Trinidadian bread wrap stuffed with a flavourful filling. The restaurant is very small and is more of a take-out joint. It also is a little pricey, and the service can be iffy, but if you brave through it, the food is delicious!  – Amitesh Parikh

Woodlands

  • 8046 New Hampshire Avenue, Langley Park, MD 20783

Best Thing to Try: Kanchipuram Idli

I used to go to this restaurant in Bombay! Definitely try the Kanchipuram Idli and the Special Rava Masala Dosa. They are to die for! Also if you have never had or heard of a Falooda, do yourself a favour and get it here! – Amitesh Parikh

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  • 4221-B Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

Best Thing to Try: Momos

If you have never eaten Nepalese food, this is your chance! This place offers a lot of Indo-Nepalese food. You absolutely have to try the Momos (Nepalese-Tibetan dumplings) and the Nepali Khaja set. If you like Indian pickles, wait till you try the Nepali pickles. – Amitesh Parikh

Sacrificial Lamb

  • 1704 R St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Best Thing to Try: Paneer Makhani

If you haven’t been here to satiate your late night (read: drunk) Indian food cravings, you probably haven’t lived in D.C. for very long! Located right off the 17th Street corridor in Dupont, Sacrificial Lamb makes some of the best, cheap Indian food you can get in D.C. The restaurant has a very dive-y feel that’s hard to find elsewhere, and the flavor of their food is just on point. Try the goat dishes here, the special biryani, or my personal favorite – the paneer makhani. – Amitesh Parikh

Pansaari

  • 1603 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Best Thing to Try: Masala Chai

The closest you will come to a chaikhaana in D.C. A cool joint with a very hip vibe. You can enjoy tea and naashta (snack)-time Indian style. Make sure to try the masala tea while walking around the space and browsing though a selection of Indian spices and goods. Pansaari also has a brunch every Saturday with food that celebrates the culinary diversity of Indian cuisine. The space also hosts cooking classes and sometimes, offers Hindi lessons. – Amitesh Parikh

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Haandi

  • 1222 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046

Best Thing to Try: Tandoori ANYTHING

Worth the trek out to the burbs, Haandi is absolutely incredible. Granted I just realized all my friends who also swear by Haandi are white, there’s always a TON of Indian people in there so that must mean something right? Their stuff is pretty traditional, you won’t find Palak Chaat here normally (although they sometimes run it as a special). Any of their tandori dishes elevate grilling to an art form and they also have the best muligatawny soup I’ve EVER had. They do a mean take-out business, which makes it ideal for hung over dinners (not that I’m speaking from experience…). – Marissa Rubenstein

DC Dosa

  • 1309 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002

Best Thing to Try: Dosas – ALL OF THEM! (Ask for all the dipping sauces!)

Ah DC Dosa. These are the giant yellow things you see everyone walking around with at Union Market (and yes, they’re worth that super long line). Basically an Indian crêpe, you choose your fillings and the type of dosa you want. Everything is vegetarian here and it’s all delicious. Don’t be scared to get creative with your filling choices, I always ask for a little bit of everything. At the end you get to choose the sauce you want and ALWAYS ask for for all the sauces, because a) they’ll give you all of them and b) trying to choose only one sauce is a ridiculous waste of your precious dosa-eating time. – Marissa Rubenstein

DC Dosa

Naan & Beyond

  • 1710 L St NW, Washington, DC 20036
  • 1700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
  • 429 L’Enfant Plaza SW #340, Washington, DC 20024

Best Thing to Try: Veggie Tikka Naan Sandwich or the Aloo Masala Dosa

There’s always a line out the door which is a really good sign! Not only do they have great naan sandwiches, but they also have dosas, which are these phenomenal south Indian crêpes. Check it out for lunch if you’re downtown. – Priya Konings

Indigo

  • 243 K St NE, Washington, DC 20002

Best Thing to Try: Meat Thaali, Chicken Saag or the Goat Curry

H St. was seriously lacking solid Indian food (Cusbah’s fine, I guess), so Indigo’s opening in late 2013 marked the shop’s long-awaited transition from food truck to brick and mortar. This truly is a mom and pop joint – the hand-written chalkboard menu changes daily, and lists not only their outstanding authentic Indian street food (all based upon traditional family recipes), but also cute, funny notes from the owners to their kids. Kind of cheesy? Yup. The type of shit I love about locally-owned small businesses? Absolutely. Standout dishes include the spicy Chicken Saag, with about eight pounds of spinach wilted in with the chicken, and the Goat Curry, a deep, ridiculously heady blend of tender goat and a house-ground spice mix. Can’t decide? Go with the Thaali platter that allows you to select five different meat or vegetable options. Tons of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well, and a dope patio perfect for weeknight lounging. This place rules. – Logan Hollers

Spice Xing

  • 100-B Gibbs St, Rockville, MD 20850

Best Thing to Try: Paneer Makhni

This is one of my favorite spots for Indian food in the suburbs. The food is spicy and delicious, and they have a big menu so there is always something new to try. Their paneer makhni is amazing: cubes of cheese in a silky, creamy gravy, and their chaat selection, breads, and chutneys are all made in awesome and so awesome. – Priya Konings

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