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Recs for Indian food in NOVA/DC?

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Disclaimer: I was born in the good ol' USA but my parents are Indian, meaning I was exposed to Indian food growing up. Been to India a few times. Also, I lived in Chicago which has delicious, authentic Indian food all over the place. While meat n potatoes, and American food remains my fave, once in awhile I do get craving for Indian and I'm so jaded in DC, I've decided to just wait to eat Indian when I visit the restaurants in Chicago.

HOWEVER, maybe someone here has a tip?

Ok, I KNOW that nothing will be perfect. But all I seek is quality cooking, realistic flavors. NOT store-bought curry sauce smothered in meat that will fool someone who has not eaten Indian before. Thus far I've tried:

*Minerva: Bombed out. Burnt meat appetizers.

*Angheethi: Bread was great! Appetizer was great!!! Then...Lamb curry was chewy and made from grocery store sauce. And I swear the "butter chicken" was NOT in an Indian based tomato sauce, but Ragu, or Paul Newman's marinara sauce, I kid you not., I'm not exaggerating.

*Raaga: Nope.

*Bombay Bistro: This was passable.

*RAVI KABOB: It's Pakistani/Afghani, but close enough. This place has been delicious, and tastes real!

I was hoping that a Hound could pull off a miracle and suggest a place with authentic Indian food. Decor could be marble floors, or a shack is okay too.

Thanks!

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  1. Have you tried these places?

    Haandi (Bethesda)
    Tiffin (Takoma/Langley Park)
    Udupi Palace (T/LP)
    Woodlands (T/LP)

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chocolatechipkt

      in Ashburn, my Indian friends enjoy Mirchi- they say it's more authentic than the more popular (i.e., american-ized flavors) Indian restauarants in town. I haven't tried it yet- the last time I had authentic Indian food it was in Manhattan and I cried thru the whole meal because I thought I could handle Chicken Vindaloo.... wooo! so while I can only recommend it by proxy, I DO want to try it soon. I just won't make the mistake of thinking I'm srong enough to handle Vindaloo at a REAL Indian restaurant! :)

      http://www.mirchiindiancuisine.com/

      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

        I'll 2nd the Haandi rec, though I frequent the Falls Church location.

        1. re: Aza Mila

          The Bethesda one is much better. I don't know what it is, but it is definitely better. Haandi is Bethesda is easily the best Indian restaurant in the DC area -- well I can only speak for DC and close suburbs -- but it is generally underrated, IMO. Still busy but I don't see how Heritage and Indique get higher ratings. Haandi is way better. It is also better than Rasika for standard Indian fare -- though Rasika has some great appetizers and non-traditional dishes, and a better bar/hip scene.

          1. re: masonuc

            haandi in falls church is mediocre and underspiced across the board.

            1. re: alkapal

              Try the Bethesda one.

      2. Passage to India in Bethesda--not NoVA/DC, but well worth the trip. Some--including me--say it's the best metro DC has to offer. Two newer restaurants--Ghar-e-Kabab and Shangri-La--have very good Indian/Nepali food, as well. The former is in Silver Spring, the latter on Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda.

        Passage to India breaks down the menu by region--east, west, south, north--and has veg and non-veg items from each. And they will make you dishes not found on the menu, like vindaloo and biryani. But don't look for classic south Indian veg like dosas, etc. For that, it's hard to beat Woodlands.

        1. Not claiming to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. Give Mayuri a try - in Reston.

          There are also two Indian Chinese places in Herndon. Masala Wok and one run by the Minerva folks.

          1. I always enjoy Dehli Club in Clarendon for good basic Indian. Also like Heritage India in Dupont.

            1. Second recommendation for Woodlands in Langley Park - kind of out of the way of the area you're talking about, but since someone else already mentioned it.... I'm not usually a fan of buffets, but on the weekend they have dishes in the buffet like poriyal and payasam that I hardly ever see elsewhere. Plus just about the only masala chai that I'd recognize as such in the area.

              1. karma indian bistro in Lorton is really great. i have seen comments from people of indian descent that say it is very authentic. It is reasonably priced and had a nice, wide ranging menu and a liquor license. It is closed on mondays BTW.

                We have also enjoyed Indique in cleveland park.

                2 Replies
                1. re: DCDOLL

                  I'd suggest My Karma in Lorton, too. All my friends who are Indian love it. One said when she's feeding out for her extended family, she goes there first. I find it much lighter and flavorful than Bombay Bistro.

                  -----
                  My Karma
                  9429 Lorton Market St, Lorton, VA 22079

                  1. re: chowser

                    Ditto on My Karma - well worth the trip

                2. Have you tried Rangoli in South Riding? I loved their butter chicken, which was most definitely not in Newman's marinara sauce.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Bob W

                    i heard about rangoli, too, from the manager at raaga. i think there is some connection. and i'm sorry, op, but raaga has great butter chicken (actually, ctm), saag, boti kabob, tandoori lamb chops, aachari chicken. raaga's chef is formerly of bombay club, downtown.

                    it is so interesting to see how many different opinions there are on indian food restos. i think only bbq and pizza have similar variety and taste-preferences.

                    ravi kabob is pretty good, but their meat can be fatty, gristly, and over-salted. plus, prices are getting much higher (i know, everyone's prices are up...) there is no parking, and the resto is not nice to dine in. plastic forks, styro plates. etc. every now and then we get the craving, but it has lost its lustre.

                    someone recommended a place in crystal city for kabobs that i want to try:kabob palace. anyone know this place?

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I really like Kabob Palace, but its not Indian, its Afghan food I think. The chickpeas and the ground beef kabob are excellent.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        However, the restaurant isn't nice to dine in either - I would recommend take out. They did open a dine-in restaurant a couple doors down, but I haven't been yet. I have heard its not as good as the take-out though.

                        1. re: dcfoodie13

                          They actually have three enterprises. One is the 24-hour carry-out/sit-down joint, another is the "Family" restaurant, and in between is a hookah restaurant. In principle, same food at all three. I went in to the hookah place, it was deserted, and the food was awful. I did not try the kabobs.

                        2. re: alkapal

                          Speaking of related places, Rawal Kabob in Chantilly (same plaza as Minerva, Picante!, and Thai Basil) is supposedly connected to Ravi Kabob in some matter. It's got the parking, but same lack of atmosphere I suspect. The menu claims to cover the whole subcontinent.

                      2. I enjoy the food at Bombay Curry Co in Alexandria. Their butter chicken is the highlight to me.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Adam23

                          I better try that next time because the chicken Vindaloo was atrocious at Bombay Curry Co.

                        2. Here are some very good tips. Please try to follow these recs:

                          2nd for Passage to India in Bethesda. Definitely order both the pickle and spice trays on the back page of the menu. Go for vegetarian choices here, like lotus stem,
                          baby gourd, black dal, and baby eggplant.

                          Dahi Vada and Tandoori Chicken at Punjab Dhaba on Rte 50, Loehmann's Plaza in
                          Falls Church. One of my favorite meals in DC

                          Woodlands, Langley Park, MD location only. Paper dhosa (without fillling) and mutter paneer.

                          Street Hawker Zone menu at Hertage India Dupont. Bhel puri, Gobi Masalam.

                          Shiney's in Annandale. Ity's Pakistani, but with some Indian dishes. Limited meny. Long pepper pokori, chaat papri, chicken karahi

                          2nd for Bombay Curry Co., a very fine place for chaat. Get the tandoori chicken wings, especially the tandoori chicken wings which are outrageously good.

                          1. I second Woodlands and also suggest Saravana Palace in Fairfax. Saravana is a vegetarian restaurant, but their dosas rock and they have a list of the top 10 most ordered items on their menu that you can order if the menu seems too overwhelming. They have a few Chinese-Indian dishes...my fave is the spicy sweet and sour cauliflower. I've enjoyed Mirchi but have only been there once - but would gladly go again to try more!

                            For a quick fix in Arlington, I like Tandoori Nights in Clarendon. I know, I know...sounds sketchy, but their lamb channa (I forget the exact wording) is delish.

                            I've tried Minerva, Raaga, Haandi, Bombay Curry Club and a few others that I thought were below-average.

                            1. Nobody's mentioned Rasika. Much of the menu is not your typical Indian food, and so I'm not sure where it scores in terms of authenticity, but it's quite amazing if you're in the mood to splurge.

                              1. Heritage India in Glover Park on Wisc Ave (north of Georgetown is always good.

                                1. BIG second for Rangoli in South Riding. My bride and I were there last Friday, and besides the food being top-notch, the service was phenomenal. We drive 25 minutes from the middle of Fairfax County to go here rather than any of the other places much nearer to us.

                                  1. We were spoiled by amazing Indian food when we lived in, of all places, Germany. Between our friends at the Indian restaurant there and the wonderful Indian restaurants in Amsterdam, we were sadly disappointed by DC's offerings.

                                    I agree with your assessments of all the above! Bombay Bistro is the closest thing to really good Indian food in Rockville. There's a place called India Palace up in Germantown, on 355, that's good.

                                    Have you tried Heritage India, just north of Georgetown near the Whole Foods and Austin Grill? Also on 355.

                                    1. Haandi in Falls Church is hands down my favorite Indian restaurant in the area. I have never been to the Bethesda location, but the Falls Church one is fairly easy to get to, right off of I-66. Mulligatwany, butter chicken, methi chooza, lamb vindaloo, daal masala, and their assorted breads are all outstanding, The service is also really good and consistent.

                                      1. One check out Rangoli in South Riding....pretty good place. another down home cafe kinda place is Aaoji in old town herndon. great butter chicken but make sure to order of the menu and not the buffet thing. Banjara in Ashburn is decent also. But of the three I mentioned Rangoli in south riding is the best...good food, great service, and pretty trendy place.

                                        1. haven't read this thread in a while, but did i mention mayuri in reston? great buffet when we went with indian friends on a sunday....

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            I did, but I need to go back - especially since I live around the corner. Glad to hear they're still doing well.

                                            1. re: Dennis S

                                              you are one lucky man!

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                My wife works with someone who is apparently a friend of either Mayuri's owners or Minerva's owners. Apparently the main chef at Mayuri was lured away from Minerva and apparently is well known in India. He's being treated very well from the account my wife passed along to me.