100 Best Restaurants 2010: Passage to India
No. 83: Passage to India
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Cynthia Hacinli, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg, Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published January 1, 2010
100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Passage to India
Address: 4931 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301-656-3373
Neighborhood: Bethesda/Glen Echo
Cuisines: Vegetarian/Vegan, Indian
Opening Hours: Open daily for lunch 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and for dinner 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM.
Nearby Metro Stops: Bethesda
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Sev-murmura chaat; samosa with chickpeas and yogurt; lamb cooked in the tandoor oven; shrimp in coconut curry; pickle plate; fresh mango with yogurt.
Price Details: Entrees, $10.95 to $23.95.

Cuisine: Chef/owner Sudhir Seth tackles his native India’s every culinary corner on his menu, which ranges far beyond commonplace curries and tandoori meats. With an impressive level of accuracy and consistency, he conveys the flavors of not just the familiar north (with its reliance on kebabs) and south (with its breads and veggie stews) but also the east and west.

Mood: The low-lit dining room, with elaborate wood carvings and photographs of Indian palaces, is a throwback in an age of clean-lined, bustling spaces: quiet, serious, almost serene. Waiters in jackets and bow ties tend to their tables with a military-like precision.

Best for: Anyone willing to venture beyond the safe ground of butter chicken; anyone seeking an oasis of calm to dine in.

Best dishes: Sev-murmura chaat, a mash-up of puffed rice, vermicelli, and dates, sweetened with tamarind; a potato-stuffed samosa dressed up with chickpeas and yogurt; juicy, thin slices of lamb cooked in the tandoor oven; shrimp in a coconut-based curry with coriander and garlic; a marvelous pickle plate; a dessert of fresh mango peeking out from a blanket of cardamom-spiked yogurt.

Insider tips: If you want to sample some of Seth’s complex and layered cooking but are on a budget, come at lunchtime. Main courses arrive with a side of lentils, rice, and a salad—all for about $10.

Service: ••

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Moderate.

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