100 Very Best Restaurants 2015: No. 51 Passage to India

The dining room at Passage to India in Bethesda, Maryland. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Twangy sitar music and exotic aromas add to the allure of this refined salon of a dining room. Which isn’t to say the cooking is timid or Westernized.

Chef/owner Sudhir Seth offers one of the most diverse Indian menus in the area, with nods to many of the country’s regional cooking styles, including the lesser-seen curries and vegetarian stews of the west and the tangy, spicy flavors of the south.

Samosa chaat plays the crispness of the fried pastry against the cool, sweet flavors of yogurt and tamarind; the effect is stunning. Those inclined to go for searing heat can find a pleasurable burn with stews such as goat curry and a simmering of eggplant with peanut gravy and whole jalapeños. But there are gentler forays too, such as homey chicken saag, not on the roster but there for the asking.

Don’t miss:

  • Karwari prawn curry
  • Lamb stew with apricots
  • Plantain dumplings
  • Spinach with buttermilk and black salt
  • Dill-flecked chickpea roti

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.