Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj and chef Vikram Sunderam have been repeatedly solicited to bring Rasika to New York and other dining-destination cities. Though Bajaj has no plans to expand outside of DC—he prefers to make daily rounds to his eight restaurants—it’s a testament to how special the Indian restaurant remains ten years into existence, not only in Washington but also on a national stage. Sunderam, who garnered his first James Beard Award in 2014 for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic, continues to helm the kitchens of the Penn Quarter original and younger West End sibling with a consistency and creativity that are rare. (Picking between the two is mostly a preference of neighborhood, though we’re partial to the original’s recently refreshed design.) His menu mixes traditional tandoori meats and curries with such inventive creations as snapper over creamy coconut noodles or braised lobster in a dough-encrusted vessel. Knowledgeable sommeliers are quick to recommend spice-friendly wines.
Don’t miss: eggplant with peanut sauce; cauliflower bezule; mango shrimp; palak chaat; tuna chutneywala; braised lamb kashmiri; chicken tikka masala; goat-cheese kulcha; onion-sage naan.