Order Mouth-Watering Indian Food From These 11 Restaurants Near DC
From gobi manchurian to a dizzying array of chaats.
For some diners, ordering Indian food means eating chicken tikka masala or a cream-laden curry. But the number of Indian establishments in DC has exploded in recent years, allowing the subcontinent’s culinary diversity to shine. Now there’s everything from fast-casual to fine dining restaurants, with captivating interiors and cocktail menus to boot. Their menus feature gobi manchurian (an Indo-Chinese dish originating in Kolkata), savory South Indian pancake uttapam, and the dizzying array of chaats—a mixture of starches, yogurt, tamarind, and crunchy toppings—that you’ll find among Mumbai street vendors. We’ve rounded up some of the DC area’s best Indian restaurants just in time for Diwali, the Indian festival of lights.
From the opulent interiors meticulously hand-crafted in India and transported to DC to the unconventional takes on classic dishes, Punjab Grill has elevated the District’s fine dining scene since making its debut last year. Enjoy the palak paneer infused with olive tapenade and leg of lamb topped with a gold leaf at home in the stately dining room or to go. Pair the dishes with a cocktail like the Punjab mule, with vodka, lemon, ginger and curry leaves. The restaurant is offering a $35 five-course Diwali brunch November 15, with masala French toast and fried chicken and dosa waffle among the selections.
How to order: Order takeout online or make a reservation with OpenTable
The 18-year-old stalwart underwent a makeover four years ago, which added brighter colors and other upgrades to the interior along with a refreshed menu, with more small plates and street food, including an assortment of chaats. Sadly, the popular unlimited $25 weekend brunch has been suspended until further notice. Diners can get takeout or delivery, or sit on the cozy balcony or sidewalk.
How to order: Order carryout online or book a table with Resy
The crown jewel of Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, Rasika broadened DC diners’ palates beyond butter chicken when the original Penn Quarter location opened 15 years ago. Be sure to try the signature palak chaat and bhindi amchoor. Now with its more contemporary West End location, Rasika has become one of the city’s most beloved restaurants, attracting celebrities and heavyweights from both political parties.
How to order: Order lunch or dinner online or book a table with Resy
Rasika’s equally venerable sister restaurant Bombay Club , which pays homage to India’s social clubs, became DC’s first Indian fine dining restaurant when it debuted more than 30 years ago. The restaurant is offering a three-course Diwali dinner for $65 ($55 for the vegetarian option). Head to the fast-casual street-food sibling Bindaas —with locations in Cleveland Park, downtown, and Foggy Bottom—for crunchy golgappas stuffed with avocado or pav bhaji bun stuffed with vegetables.
How to order: Order takeout on Caviar or make a reservation with OpenTable
Known for its made-to-order Indian bowls that can be filled with rice, chicken tikka, turmeric shrimp, and a dazzling array of toppings, Rasa debuted its second location in Mount Vernon Triangle in July. Don’t skip the masala chai cookies, mango lassi soft serve, or the tamarind margarita. You can feel good about spending your dollars here: The COVID-19 crisis prompted second-generation restaurant owners Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman (whose fathers own Indique) to team up with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen to provide free meals to school kids, restaurant and hospital workers.
How to order: Order takeout or delivery online
Bombay Street Food
Restaurateur Asad Sheikh recreates the flavors of his childhood in Mumbai. Expect crispy shells filled with yogurt and chutney (dahi puri) and Indo-Chinese favorites like chili chicken, while Bollywood posters and street scene photos bring a piece of the city to DC. Within the past year, Sheikh also opened three Butter Chicken Company restaurants, which stay open until they sell 300 orders of the eponymous dish.
How to order: Call 202-758-2415 for takeout
Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant
Paper-thin masala dosas and massive uthappams stuffed with vegetables await inside the unassuming strip mall restaurant. While diners can no longer feast on the popular lunch buffet, they can order the generously portioned thali, rice and dal accompanied by half a dozen dishes, pickles and dessert.
How to order: Call 301-434-4202 for takeout
It’s worth the trek to Howard County to dine at Ananda, where the interior is as eye catching as the beautifully plated dishes that use the chicken and vegetables sourced from the restaurant’s own farm a mile away. Take advantage of the expansive covered verandah (try to score a table by the fireplace!) while enjoying the shrimp with seasonal polenta or the butternut squash and carrot soup topped with spiced pear chutney.
How to order: Book a table with Resy or call 301-725-4800 for carryout
The license plates in the parking lot indicate that plenty of DC-area folks make the drive for the consistently superlative service and food, which includes an extensive selection of lamb and seafood dishes. Make a reservation to sit in the spacious white and gold-outfitted dining room or on the new patio designed to accommodate for social distancing.
How to order: Call 410-381-1111 for reservations and takeout orders
While a handful of DC-area South Asian restaurants serve an Indo-Chinese dish or two, IndoChen unabashedly dedicates a good chunk of the cuisine that sprouted in India with the arrival of Chinese immigrants in the 1700s. Dishes like chop suey blend wok-fried noodles with soy sauce, garlic ginger paste, cumin, coriander, and chilis. Chef Ram Thapa fine-tuned his dishes while working in Indo-Chinese restaurants in South Asia.
How to order: Call 703-419-3160 for reservations or takeout orders
The two locations in Northern Virginia deliver an assortment of bold appetizers. Think Indo-Chinese favorite gobi manchurian, several chaats, and standout naans (stuffed with dates and almonds, tomatoes and cheese, or coconut and cherries). Black-and-white photos of legendary actors in the Great Falls location pay homage to India’s film industry while the Fairfax spot offers outdoor seating. The restaurant also serves as the caterer for several area hotels.
How to order: Order takeout through Toast.