So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.
This week, we’re turning an eye towards India. When the mercury starts to creep upwards, we like to feast on hot foods to help cool us down. It sounds counterintuitive, but it works. To chill out even quicker, enjoy your meal with a few cold beers from the Subcontinent or a freshly-frothed lassi. Here are our top ten Indian restaurants to help you spice up your summer.
Rasika/Rasika West End
Award-winning chef, Vikram Sunderam, presides over this pair of modern-edged Indian restaurants. His deft hand transforms classic cuisine into 21st century masterpieces that incorporate a multitude of flavors. Coriander and cumin accent wild boar chops, lobster floats in a pool of oniony tomato stew rife with fenugreek, and shrimp gets a poppy preparation with fresh mango, cashews and ginger.
These sister restaurants from chef-owner, K.N. Vinod, both feature sprawling menus that showcase the width and breadth of Indian cuisine. We especially love the biriyani at Indique and the thalis at Indique Heights.
Bombay Club alum, Sudhir Seth, opened this laid-back Rockville redoubt in 2009. Casual Indian fare – oftentimes accentuated with global influences – is the order of business here. No matter what you get for dinner, order the lime and ginger-perked pineapple, grilled in the tandoori oven, for dessert.
Southern Indian fare reigns supreme at this downstairs companion piece to Heritage India’s northern cuisine upstairs. Order the crispy crepe-like dosas that come filled with everything from spiced mashed potatoes to seasoned ground lamb.
Punjabi By Nature
Fans of Subcontinental cuisine swear by this place. The Chantilly eatery focuses on northern favorites, such as curries, tandoori specialties and rice dishes.
Looking for world-class vegetarian cuisine? It’s tough to beat this southern Indian restaurant in Langley Park, Md., which has a menu so large that you’d have to dine here a dozen times to try everything. Or you can go for the lunch buffet and sample nearly 20 items in a single sitting.
Curry Mantra 2
A knowledgeable insider wrote to tell us that this restaurant makes “an awesome, awesome vada pav” – a deep fried potato patty sandwiched in a mini roll that’s sometimes called an Indian burger. For that reason alone, this Falls Church eatery is tops in our book.
Passage to India
This is the more traditional companion piece to Sudhir Seth’s Spice Xing. A portion of the menu is divided into the four points of the compass, so you can explore the entire Subcontinent in a single meal.
The founding cornerstone of restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s empire focuses on Parsi, Goan and Moghlai specialties. Spicy ginger and garam masala rubbed duck kebabs and the coconutty fish curry are always on our must-order list.
Perched in Petworth, this Indian restaurant concentrates on the classics. We’re particularly fond of the tikka masala, dal makhani, and the seafood curry.
Is your favorite missing? Disagree with one (or more) of my choices? Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @nevinmartell.