Cheap Eats 2016: Punjabi Junction

Cost:

Go for the goat: Both a curry and this egg-topped biryani are good vehicles for the meat. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Vegetarian-Friendly

“Have you ever had ‘Indian spicy’?” our waiter asks when we request that the kitchen go full-blast. He has a right to be concerned. When unleashed, the heat at this otherwise unassuming Indian spot near Dulles Airport can scorch—even pappadams pack serious peppery bite, and tender goat in a chili-laced onion gravy imparts a slow and steady burn. (Chilled raita helps.) Still, the spice-averse won’t go hungry. A popular all-you-can-eat lunch buffet offers a milder version of that goat curry, and diners can scale the heat up and down as they please. Given the punches the kitchen is capable of packing, mild dishes can be surprisingly delicate—try a fragrant biryanicrowned with onions and herbs.

Also good: Vegetable pakora; tandoori chicken tangdi; baingan bharta (eggplant with ginger and garlic); kulcha stuffed with paneer cheese, onions, and jalapeños.

See what other restaurants made our 2016 Cheap Eats list. This article appears in our May 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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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.