100 Best Restaurants 2012: Rasika

No. 7


The crown jewel of Ashok Bajaj’s restaurant collection is this gorgeously lit Penn Quarter dining room–easily the area’s best Indian restaurant and unlike any other in the crowded field. Anchoring chef Vikram Sunderam’s menu are first-rate renditions of familiar curry-house stews–lamb rogan josh, chicken tikka masala–but nearly everything else is unexpected.

The bread called kulcha is stuffed with goat cheese, the cocktail list includes a riff on a Dark and Stormy made with butternut squash, and tandoori-cooked meats are joined by kebabs and fish from the tawa griddle. The famed palak chaat–fried leaves of spinach zigzagged with yogurt and tamarind–is a winner, but on one visit it was eclipsed by a more unusual veggie dish: lentil-flour-and-cabbage cakes in a stunning yogurt sauce flecked with mustard seeds.

What to get: Ragda patties, potato cakes with tamarind-date-and-mint chutney; avocado and banana with date chutney; black cod marinated in honey, dill, star anise, and vinegar; mint paratha, the spiraled bread.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

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.