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Shiso leaf chaat served with white pea ragda, green mango and mint at Penn Quarter’s new Rania.
Greg Powers for Rania

15 Must-Try Indian Restaurants Around D.C.

Where to find posh plates that riff on regional cuisines, fast-casual bowls, and creamy curries

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Shiso leaf chaat served with white pea ragda, green mango and mint at Penn Quarter’s new Rania.
| Greg Powers for Rania

Much of India’s rich history can be observed through the lens of regional cuisine. Influenced by nine major religions, a range of geographic landscapes, trade routes, and colonization, there’s more to India than vindaloo and naan (although those dishes are undeniably popular for good reason). The D.C. area is a hub for Indian immigrants, with many choosing to share their memories and family recipes in professional kitchens.

From nationally lauded, modernized fine dining venues to fast-casual counters, here are over a dozen reliable destinations for Indian food around D.C.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Indique

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This family business pushes a modern approach to classic Indian dishes. Get playful with a child pleaser for kids an adults alike: the chicken cheese kebab. Boneless chicken breasts are marinated in cream cheese and yogurt, cooked in a clay oven, and served with fenugreek leaves. Don’t miss the gobhi pecorino kulcha, a leavened bread stuffed with cauliflower, cheese, cashew, almonds, raisins, and jalapeno.

Cauliflower pecorino kulcha at Indique.
Joy Asico for Indique

Bombay Street Food (Multiple locations)

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Mumbai was still known as Bombay when restaurateur Asad Sheikh was growing up in India. At the Columbia Heights original, along with locations on Capitol Hill and National Harbor, he shares the thriving street food vendor scene from his childhood through favorites like Bombay palak chaat (a mixture of crispy fried spinach with spiced yogurt and chutney), bhel puri (puffed rice mixed with a medley of raw onion, tomato, and chutney), and vada pao (spiced potatoes with ginger, garlic, and cilantro chutney served with a roll). Follow up these snacks with the Bombay thali for two: an assorted platter that includes curries, vegetables, bread, and rice. Sheikh also runs fast-casual chain Butter Chicken Company and London Curry House on U Street NW.

Indo-Chinese cauliflower from Bombay Street Food
Indo-Chinese cauliflower from Bombay Street Food.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Jyoti Indian Cuisine

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A fixture in D.C. for almost two decades, Jyoti highlights a wide spectrum of Indian food. In particular, its fish section explores dishes from West Bengal and Kerala. Try one of their fish curries to get a taste of Goa — a most popular beach state full of Portuguese influences — or a spiced red snapper that’s roasted whole in a tandoori oven.

Glassey

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This AAPI-owned, women-owned business in Shaw serves Indian street food in a hip, laid-back setting. Head here for tofu curry, fluffy naan, and boozy mango lassis. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. includes $6 dishes and drinks.

Logan Circle’s color-soaked standby draped with silk fabrics imported from New Delhi specializes in Northern Indian cuisine. Chef Sanjay Mandhaiya formerly cooked at India’s Moti Mahel, which is widely considered the birthplace of butter chicken. The menu also features lamb biryani, tandoori grilled meats, palak paneer, samosas, and more. A new daily happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) centers around naan kathi rolls, discounted cocktails like a Ginger Bliss (rum, elderflower liqueur, ginger, and lime), and $10 off bottles of wine.

Naan kathi rolls come stuffed with lamb, chicken, paneer or chickpeas.
Pappe

This charming, family-owned corner staple in NoMa features a cute patio decked out in colorful string lights with a separate bar slinging drinks and trays of biryani and butter chicken. Customers can peruse a long list of specials and vegetarian options on the chalkboard inside.

Karma Modern Indian

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Open since 2018, this sleek, Bib Gourmand-designated restaurant just north of Chinatown integrates nontraditional Indian ingredients into its upscale offerings. Highlights from executive chef and New Delhi native Ajay Kumar include chicken chettinad punched up with peppercorn and curry leaves, saffron duck, masala-style lobster, herb and goat cheese naan, and new dishes for fall like chopped shrimp and spinach cornets. A big bar up front stirs spins on classics like a gimlet with anise and cinnamon-infused Forager gin and lime. Owners Sachin Mahajan and Ricky Singh recently added a more casual offshoot in Old Town called Kismet, with another en route to Richmond.

Chicken chettinad with naan at Karma Modern Indian.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC

Dante Datta and Suresh Sundas, a respective drink expert and chef who met while working together at Rasika West End, reunited under one roof last summer with an anticipated Indian restaurant and cocktail bar at a corner just south of H Street NE. Sundas likes to combine Northern and Southern Indian cooking styles with some unorthodox touches: Think za’atar olive naan, chicken tikka tacos, chimichurri chutneys, or grilled chicken reshmi kebabs with a hint of blue cheese. Datta and bar manager Tom Martinez, both alums of now-closed Columbia Room, collaborate on inventive riffs on classics.

Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru.
Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The palace-like Penn Quarter space that formerly housed Punjab Grill reopened this spring as a luxe new Indian restaurant called Rania, which means “Queen” in Hindi and Sanskrit. Chef Chetan Shetty, who recently cooked at acclaimed New Delhi restaurant Indian Accent, guides diners through a multi-course dinner of inventive Indian cuisine that goes way beyond the expected (as in dishes like braised lamb shank accented with spinach, coconut foam, ghoda masala spice blend, and mustard frills). Prix-fixe menus of three ($75) or four courses ($90) join an a la carte menu at the restaurant’s Sundowner Bar.

Beef short ribs with saffron nihari, charred broccoli rabe, and pickled mustard at Rania.
Greg Powers for Rania

Rasika (Multiple locations)

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James Beard award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam plays liberally with spicy chiles and sour fruits to make Rasika one of the most celebrated Indian restaurants in the country. His palak chaat, a fried baby spinach dish decorated with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney, has inspired imitators around town. Dal makhani slowly simmered in a decadent, buttery gravy and cauliflower Bezule (with mustard seeds, green chilies, and curry leaves) are also best sellers. Both the Penn Quarter flagship and its West End sibling are ideal venues for vegetarian diners, too. Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj also runs Bombay Club, a power dining staple downtown for over three decades that unveiled a new look last summer.

A dish of cauliflower bezule from Rasika
Cauliflower Bezule from Rasika
Shimmon Tamara / for Rasika

Masala Art

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This Indian mainstay in Southwest and Tenleytown offers lengthy menus full of ground lamb kebabs with hints of jalapeno and mint, best-selling biryani bowls served in silver tins, creamy, cashew nut shrimp curry, and triangles of fluffy naan flecked with rock salt and cilantro. A Ramos Gin Fizz with star anise-infused gin joins tall, icy bottles of Taj Mahal beer. Romantic details are aplenty here, from flickering candles balanced on metal figurines to wood-carved elephants to street lights piercing through a beaded curtain wall. 

Co-owners and Eater Young Guns (‘18) Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod started this local fast-casual brand to introduce Indian food to a broad audience. Choose from premade bowls highlighting chicken tikka, lamb kebab, shrimp, spiced beef, sweet potato tikkis (a vegetarian-style cutlet), and more. Customers can also build their own, choosing from a base of vegetables or rice and adding mains, veggies, and toppings. End the meal on a sweet note with kulfi pops made out of a dense, creamy version of ice cream found in India. The fast-growing brand maintains locations in Navy Yard, Arlington, Mt. Vernon Triangle, and Fairfax.

Rasa assorted bowls
Rasa [official]

Kohinoor Dhaba Inc.

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A mix of traditional and modern, Kohinoor Dhaba highlights the best of North Indian food right by Crystal City. Try the fragrant goat biryani or keep it simple with one of its tandoor options. There’s also an extensive vegan menu. Load up plates during its daily lunch buffet (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Indochen

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The Indo-Chinese restaurant unveiled a follow-up location in June at the foot of an Old Town Hyatt. Chef Ram Thapa sends out samosas, chicken spring rolls, pork belly, orange shrimp, chicken chop suey, veggie chow mein, and shrimp fried rice to go along with butter chicken, family-style biryani, palak paneer, and other Indian staples that pay homage to Indochen’s predecessor London Curry House. A well-stocked bar with 100 types of wine makes a mean barrel-aged Manhattan. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A parade of plates at Indochen.
Indochen

Namaste Jalsa

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For decades, a Chinese population has migrated to India for economic and spiritual reasons, and Indo-Chinese food has gained popularity worldwide. In Alexandria, Namaste serves gobhi Manchurian (fried cauliflower tossed in a spicy Manchurian sauce) and vegetarian chili momos (Nepali-style dumplings). Namaste also has all the Indian classics and an impressive naan list. 

Indique

Cauliflower pecorino kulcha at Indique.
Joy Asico for Indique

This family business pushes a modern approach to classic Indian dishes. Get playful with a child pleaser for kids an adults alike: the chicken cheese kebab. Boneless chicken breasts are marinated in cream cheese and yogurt, cooked in a clay oven, and served with fenugreek leaves. Don’t miss the gobhi pecorino kulcha, a leavened bread stuffed with cauliflower, cheese, cashew, almonds, raisins, and jalapeno.

Cauliflower pecorino kulcha at Indique.
Joy Asico for Indique

Bombay Street Food (Multiple locations)

Indo-Chinese cauliflower from Bombay Street Food
Indo-Chinese cauliflower from Bombay Street Food.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Mumbai was still known as Bombay when restaurateur Asad Sheikh was growing up in India. At the Columbia Heights original, along with locations on Capitol Hill and National Harbor, he shares the thriving street food vendor scene from his childhood through favorites like Bombay palak chaat (a mixture of crispy fried spinach with spiced yogurt and chutney), bhel puri (puffed rice mixed with a medley of raw onion, tomato, and chutney), and vada pao (spiced potatoes with ginger, garlic, and cilantro chutney served with a roll). Follow up these snacks with the Bombay thali for two: an assorted platter that includes curries, vegetables, bread, and rice. Sheikh also runs fast-casual chain Butter Chicken Company and London Curry House on U Street NW.

Indo-Chinese cauliflower from Bombay Street Food
Indo-Chinese cauliflower from Bombay Street Food.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Jyoti Indian Cuisine

A fixture in D.C. for almost two decades, Jyoti highlights a wide spectrum of Indian food. In particular, its fish section explores dishes from West Bengal and Kerala. Try one of their fish curries to get a taste of Goa — a most popular beach state full of Portuguese influences — or a spiced red snapper that’s roasted whole in a tandoori oven.

Glassey

This AAPI-owned, women-owned business in Shaw serves Indian street food in a hip, laid-back setting. Head here for tofu curry, fluffy naan, and boozy mango lassis. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. includes $6 dishes and drinks.

Pappe

Naan kathi rolls come stuffed with lamb, chicken, paneer or chickpeas.
Pappe

Logan Circle’s color-soaked standby draped with silk fabrics imported from New Delhi specializes in Northern Indian cuisine. Chef Sanjay Mandhaiya formerly cooked at India’s Moti Mahel, which is widely considered the birthplace of butter chicken. The menu also features lamb biryani, tandoori grilled meats, palak paneer, samosas, and more. A new daily happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) centers around naan kathi rolls, discounted cocktails like a Ginger Bliss (rum, elderflower liqueur, ginger, and lime), and $10 off bottles of wine.

Naan kathi rolls come stuffed with lamb, chicken, paneer or chickpeas.
Pappe

Indigo

This charming, family-owned corner staple in NoMa features a cute patio decked out in colorful string lights with a separate bar slinging drinks and trays of biryani and butter chicken. Customers can peruse a long list of specials and vegetarian options on the chalkboard inside.

Karma Modern Indian

Chicken chettinad with naan at Karma Modern Indian.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC

Open since 2018, this sleek, Bib Gourmand-designated restaurant just north of Chinatown integrates nontraditional Indian ingredients into its upscale offerings. Highlights from executive chef and New Delhi native Ajay Kumar include chicken chettinad punched up with peppercorn and curry leaves, saffron duck, masala-style lobster, herb and goat cheese naan, and new dishes for fall like chopped shrimp and spinach cornets. A big bar up front stirs spins on classics like a gimlet with anise and cinnamon-infused Forager gin and lime. Owners Sachin Mahajan and Ricky Singh recently added a more casual offshoot in Old Town called Kismet, with another en route to Richmond.

Chicken chettinad with naan at Karma Modern Indian.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC

Daru

Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru.
Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Dante Datta and Suresh Sundas, a respective drink expert and chef who met while working together at Rasika West End, reunited under one roof last summer with an anticipated Indian restaurant and cocktail bar at a corner just south of H Street NE. Sundas likes to combine Northern and Southern Indian cooking styles with some unorthodox touches: Think za’atar olive naan, chicken tikka tacos, chimichurri chutneys, or grilled chicken reshmi kebabs with a hint of blue cheese. Datta and bar manager Tom Martinez, both alums of now-closed Columbia Room, collaborate on inventive riffs on classics.

Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru.
Striped seabass with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney from Daru.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Rania

Beef short ribs with saffron nihari, charred broccoli rabe, and pickled mustard at Rania.
Greg Powers for Rania

The palace-like Penn Quarter space that formerly housed Punjab Grill reopened this spring as a luxe new Indian restaurant called Rania, which means “Queen” in Hindi and Sanskrit. Chef Chetan Shetty, who recently cooked at acclaimed New Delhi restaurant Indian Accent, guides diners through a multi-course dinner of inventive Indian cuisine that goes way beyond the expected (as in dishes like braised lamb shank accented with spinach, coconut foam, ghoda masala spice blend, and mustard frills). Prix-fixe menus of three ($75) or four courses ($90) join an a la carte menu at the restaurant’s Sundowner Bar.

Beef short ribs with saffron nihari, charred broccoli rabe, and pickled mustard at Rania.
Greg Powers for Rania

Rasika (Multiple locations)

A dish of cauliflower bezule from Rasika
Cauliflower Bezule from Rasika
Shimmon Tamara / for Rasika

James Beard award-winning chef Vikram Sunderam plays liberally with spicy chiles and sour fruits to make Rasika one of the most celebrated Indian restaurants in the country. His palak chaat, a fried baby spinach dish decorated with sweet yogurt, tamarind, and date chutney, has inspired imitators around town. Dal makhani slowly simmered in a decadent, buttery gravy and cauliflower Bezule (with mustard seeds, green chilies, and curry leaves) are also best sellers. Both the Penn Quarter flagship and its West End sibling are ideal venues for vegetarian diners, too. Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj also runs Bombay Club, a power dining staple downtown for over three decades that unveiled a new look last summer.

A dish of cauliflower bezule from Rasika
Cauliflower Bezule from Rasika
Shimmon Tamara / for Rasika

Masala Art

This Indian mainstay in Southwest and Tenleytown offers lengthy menus full of ground lamb kebabs with hints of jalapeno and mint, best-selling biryani bowls served in silver tins, creamy, cashew nut shrimp curry, and triangles of fluffy naan flecked with rock salt and cilantro. A Ramos Gin Fizz with star anise-infused gin joins tall, icy bottles of Taj Mahal beer. Romantic details are aplenty here, from flickering candles balanced on metal figurines to wood-carved elephants to street lights piercing through a beaded curtain wall. 

RASA

Rasa assorted bowls
Rasa [official]

Co-owners and Eater Young Guns (‘18) Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod started this local fast-casual brand to introduce Indian food to a broad audience. Choose from premade bowls highlighting chicken tikka, lamb kebab, shrimp, spiced beef, sweet potato tikkis (a vegetarian-style cutlet), and more. Customers can also build their own, choosing from a base of vegetables or rice and adding mains, veggies, and toppings. End the meal on a sweet note with kulfi pops made out of a dense, creamy version of ice cream found in India. The fast-growing brand maintains locations in Navy Yard, Arlington, Mt. Vernon Triangle, and Fairfax.

Rasa assorted bowls
Rasa [official]

Kohinoor Dhaba Inc.

A mix of traditional and modern, Kohinoor Dhaba highlights the best of North Indian food right by Crystal City. Try the fragrant goat biryani or keep it simple with one of its tandoor options. There’s also an extensive vegan menu. Load up plates during its daily lunch buffet (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Indochen

A parade of plates at Indochen.
Indochen

The Indo-Chinese restaurant unveiled a follow-up location in June at the foot of an Old Town Hyatt. Chef Ram Thapa sends out samosas, chicken spring rolls, pork belly, orange shrimp, chicken chop suey, veggie chow mein, and shrimp fried rice to go along with butter chicken, family-style biryani, palak paneer, and other Indian staples that pay homage to Indochen’s predecessor London Curry House. A well-stocked bar with 100 types of wine makes a mean barrel-aged Manhattan. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A parade of plates at Indochen.
Indochen

Namaste Jalsa

For decades, a Chinese population has migrated to India for economic and spiritual reasons, and Indo-Chinese food has gained popularity worldwide. In Alexandria, Namaste serves gobhi Manchurian (fried cauliflower tossed in a spicy Manchurian sauce) and vegetarian chili momos (Nepali-style dumplings). Namaste also has all the Indian classics and an impressive naan list. 

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