Cheap Eats 2018: Balaji Cafe

Dosa, uttapam, paratha, and pav bhaji at Balaji Cafe. Photograph by Scott Suchman

About Balaji Cafe

298 Sunset Park Dr
Herndon, VA 20170

Northern Virginia is far from southern India, but a balmy corner of chef/owner Naresh Advani’s kitchen mimics the climate of his homeland—perfect for fermenting a dozen-odd doughs and batters for the restaurant’s menu of vegetarian dosas, chaats (crunchy snacks), and breads. If we had to pick one, it would be the masterful rava dosa—all crisp edges and soft corners, threaded with onion, cilantro, and chilies and served with a zesty vegetable stew. Round out the spread with a sumptuous samosa chaat or a balloon-like bhatura. Also good: Lemon rice; vegetable thali; paneer chili; mango lassi.

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 Petworth.

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.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.