Cheap Eats 2008: Rangoli

Why go: An exurban eatery that neatly impersonates a downtown destination, complete with maître d’, gem-toned silk lampshades, and white china.

What to get: Masala dosa filled with spiced potatoes—a showstopper; peppery chicken chettinad, which tastes like a saucier precursor to Caribbean jerk; palak paneer, a stew of creamy spinach and cubes of house-made cheese; aloo gobhi, a fiery mix of potatoes and cauliflower; fruit jalebi, batter-fried slices of banana, pineapple, and apple with house-made ice cream.

Best for: Date night away from the kids—the serenity and pampering make it the perfect place to recharge your batteries.

Insider tip: The lunch buffet, an even bigger bargain, presents thoughtfully chosen, oft-replenished dishes.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

See all Cheap Eats 2008 restaurants 

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.