100 Best Restaurants 2011: Masala Art
Comments () | Published January 20, 2011
Cheap Eats 2012 100 Best Restaurants (2011) Cheap Eats 2011

Masala Art
Address: 4441-B Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202-362-4441
Neighborhood: Upper Northwest
Cuisines: Indian
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Kid Friendly: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Tenleytown-AU
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Bhel puri; samosas; chickpea-and-onion fritters; dal; butter chicken; sole curry; chicken in saffron-and-cashew curry; naan with rock salt and cilantro.
Price Details: Starters, $4.25 to $5.50; main courses, $9.95 to $21.95.
Special Features:
Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly, Delivery

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

“Bet the jockey, not the horse” is standard advice in horse handicapping. It also applies to the restaurant business, where chefs and managers hop from place to place. This subcontinental charmer is the product of partners Atul Bhola and Surinder Kumar, who worked for years at the venerable Heritage India in DC’s Glover Park—Bhola as general manager, Kumar as chef.

Their Tenleytown storefront is a quietly transportive dining room with handsomely framed prints and unshowy but excellent cooking. To diners accustomed to curry-house takeout, digging into Kumar’s interpretations is like switching from standard TV to high def. Bhel puri, a street-food salad of puffed rice, tamarind sauce, and mango, is more pungent than other renditions, while butter chicken is an explosion of tomatoes and toasted spices.

The restaurant isn’t perfect—service can be scattered, main courses are sometimes marred by overdone meats, and pacing is a problem. But to find cooking this good at prices this agreeable is cause for excitement.

Also good: Chickpea-and-onion fritters; fish in coconut curry; chicken in cashew-and-saffron curry; naan with rock salt and cilantro.

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Inexpensive to moderate.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/20/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews