633 D St., NW
Washington, DC 20004
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown, Downtown
Cuisines: Vegetarian/Vegan, Indian
Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday 5:30 to 10:30, Friday 5 to 11, Saturday 5 to 11.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: Gallery Place-Chinatown, Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
Price Range: Expensive
Noise Level: Chatty
Palak chaat; lobster moilee with ginger, green chilies, and coconut milk; tandoori lamb chops with cashews, ginger, and green herbs; truffle-oil naan; tomato/gold-raisin chutney; chocolate samosas; apple beignet with cardamom ice cream.
Small plates, $7 to $12; entrees, $14 to $27.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Valet Parking Available
Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.
Softly lit and draped in rich fabrics, Ashok Bajaj’s Penn Quarter dining room is a sensual setting. In the open kitchen, chef Vikram Sunderam turns out the area’s most exciting Indian flavors, able to showcase cutting-edge Indian cuisine while also elevating such familiar stews as chicken makhni and lamb rogan josh.
Some of Sunderam’s creations employ ingredients not typically seen in Indian cooking, such as a layering of avocado and banana with tamarind chutney or a lentil pancake laden with asparagus. Although matching Indian dishes with wines can be tricky, the restaurant offers a four- or six-course chef’s-table menu with wine pairings. Innovative cocktails—especially one made with Scotch and spiced honey—disprove the notion that Indian food should be served only with pale ale.
Also good: Mango shrimp with a bright cilantro sauce; fried spinach with date chutney; black cod with a hint of star anise; breads such as goat-cheese-filled kulcha, warm naan, and mint paratha; date-and-toffee pudding fragrant with vanilla.
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.