Whether you’re looking for high-end tasting menus, home-style dishes, or more contemporary takes on Indian cuisine in the nation’s capital, we’ve got you covered. These are the five best Indian restaurants in the Washington, D.C. MICHELIN Guide.
It’s yellow, not the telltale blue of its name, that defines this sunny Indian restaurant. Located in a cheerful house with a self-service patio full of colorful picnic tables. How can you not adore a place where love notes from customers cover the walls?Indian expats and residents line up for such classic comfort cooking from the sub-continent as the spicy chicken masala and tender, melt-in-your-mouth goat curry. Even side dishes are elevated here—for instance, daal is packed with smoky flavor and doused in a cardamom-scented relish, while paneer paratha (flatbread stuffed with cheese, onion, chopped red chilies and cilantro) is especially fluffy and addictive. US$15-50
Large windows and a navy blue-and-white palette set a distinctly modern tone at this appropriately named Indian bistro. It is a far cry from your everyday curry house, as a great deal of care is taken to coax each dish with distinctive flavors. Even its spices are ground on the premises—while you wait, read about their health benefits in the guide on the back of the menu. The chef-driven menu is at once traditional and contemporary. Don't overlook the imaginative drinks, both spirit-based and alcohol-free, like the Tiger's Tail made with blood orange, turmeric, and chili water. Naan here is a cut above the norm, as in the wild mushroom with a hint of truffle. The use of top ingredients shines through in the elegant, rich and flavorful paneer lajawab. US$30-75
Karma Modern Indian's Calcutta jhaal muri & mixed nuts with puffed rice. Photo by KSM, courtesy of Karma Modern Indian
From the hand-carved wood and gold-patterned wallpaper to the gleaming marble, it seems no expense was spared when designing Punjab Grill, the first statewide outpost of a luxury chain with locations spanning the globe. The regional Punjab-focused menu is equally dazzling and luxurious, with caviar and gold leaf sprinkled in among other quality ingredients. One, not-to-be-missed favorite is the aloo tikki chaat, which arrives as a towering, boulder-like presentation of crispy potato cake topped with a mashup of lightly roasted Brussels sprouts and fried kale, then dressed with avocado sauce, raspberry chutney, and rosewater-infused yogurt. The drama continues through dessert, with the elegant and eye-catching dark chocolate pistachio gianduja. US$40-75
With easy access to the Metro, this is a good-looking, loud and lively spot that lures all types of diners. Everyone is here for their kitsch-free Indian cuisine and laid-back ambience—both of which are as perfectly suited for a casual night out with friends as they are for a formal dinner with colleagues or festive celebration.It’s difficult to live up to the hype, but Rasika turns out several winning dishes. Grab a seat at the back counter for views into the kitchen, which turns out such highlights as crispy palak chaat tossed with raita, tamarind and date chutneys. Then, crunchy okra displays a perfect blend of spicy and sour flavors. Match this with top house-made cubes of paneer, skewered with peppers, onions and accompanied by a tangy green sauce. US$45-75
A fixture on the DC scene for a number of decades now, this Penn Quarter stalwart, owned by the affable Ashok Bajaj, still functions as a club for politicians and Beltway insiders. If you can take your eyes off the senator snuggled into the half-moon banquette, the polished Indian cuisine doesn’t disappoint. Palate-pleasing items span the continent to include Northern grilled meats, as well as Southern seafood and coconut-inflected dishes. Tender minced lamb is coaxed with a hint of heat in the Seekh kebab, while the bharli vangi's soft-as-pudding bulbs of stuffed and braised baby eggplant simply burst with flavor. US$50-75
The Bombay Club's cilantro shrimp. Photo by Michelin North America
Hero image: Karma Modern Indian's Jodhpur tandoor grilled chicken. Photo by KSM, courtesy of Karma Modern Indian
Last year was extremely tough for the restaurant industry and chefs around the world, but MICHELIN is very happy to bestow the Michelin Young Chef Award on nine talented young chefs around the world, from Thailand to Germany.