The Indian lunch buffet is often a solid value, but rarely is it offered with the level of care and ambition you’ll find at Asad Sheikh’s Cameron Station dining room. In place of a standard-issue steam table are square glass bowls filled with lush curries, trays of delicate vegetable fritters, and jugs of rose-infused water. The $11.99 deal ($13.99 on weekends) is a terrific tour of what the kitchen can do, but come anytime and you’ll be rewarded with rich, velvety stews—a superlative butter chicken, an addictive version of the eggplant purée known as baingan bharta—and gracious, helpful service. Few settings on the Cheap Eats list are as well suited for a date night as this corner dining room, with soaring arched windows and burnt-orange walls.
Where you can get it: 191 Somervelle St., Alexandria; 703-419-3160
Also good: Dahi poori, crisps filled with yogurt and tamarind; tandoori chicken wings; chicken or lamb with hara daniya, a cilantro-and-mint curry; goatbiryani; onion kulcha and garlic naan.