I’m looking for a nice-ish Indian restaurant for my birthday dinner with my parents this Friday. Where would you recommend?
Oh man, I wish you hadn’t said THIS Friday, because all I want to do is send you to Rasika (or the sister restaurant Rasika West End) where you’ll spend slightly more money but have one of the best meals in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, reservations for a Friday night are hard to get a month in advance, let alone a couple of days, so you’re going to have to go elsewhere. But for your next parent-funded celebration, plan it in advance and lock down that table.
You do have some good options on short notice, though, and there are three places in the District I think would fit the bill nicely. Indique Heights, with locations in Friendship Heights and Cleveland Park, is reliably good Indian food, if nothing spectacular. All of the standbys (samosas, tandoori chicken, lamb vindaloo, you know the deal) are on the menu and made well, and Indique Heights is nice enough to feel like you’re celebrating. My main gripe? I think it’s too expensive for what it is. You can be eating more exciting food for these prices at other places in the city.
Masala Art up in Tenleytown is another potential location. Tucked in right by a Subway in an unassuming strip mall, this fairly unappealing exterior actually hides an attractive restaurant. More important, of course, is that the food is delicious. Masala Art’s food manages to be both more authentically Indian than Indique Heights (Pro tip: if you get the vindaloo, watch out, cause it is HOT. They are not toning down the spice level here) while still coming across as an upscale version of Indian food. That being said, this wouldn’t be my first choice for a birthday meal. It’s out of the way and can be a bit fussy; it doesn’t necessarily have the fun factor I know I’m looking for on a birthday. I know this is dinner with your parents, not a night out on the town with your friends, but I still think something a bit more lively is in order.
My ultimate recommendation, then, would be to go instead to Himalayan Heritage, a Nepalese/Indian restaurant located in Adams Morgan. Here, you have the perfect combination of good food and a fun, celebratory vibe, all at very reasonable prices. Chicken Masala is on the menu, of course, but there are also some Nepalese specialties like momos that you won’t find many other places in the District. And at the end of the meal, you’re in Adams Morgan and a short walk from Dupont Circle or U Street, making it easy to stop somewhere nearby for dessert or a drink.
Hope you have a great birthday, and let us know where you go and how it turns out!
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