I love Indian food. A lot. Unfortunately, I have had a really hard time finding quality Indian food in this area. Sure, I’ve tried some of the local joints that you hear about, but overall I’ve been markedly underwhelmed by each of them (not enough spice, the service is abysmal, or the atmosphere is sterile). Then last week, one of my friends suggested we go to Tandoori Nights in Bethesda. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Really? Tandoori Nights? How could a cheesy-sounding name like that be associated with quality Indian food?” I thought the same thing, but we gave it a shot anyway.
With paper menus and sparse decorations, the interior won’t win any awards, but it’s cozy enough to put you at ease when you walk in. The night we ate there it was packed, but they were still able to seat our party immediately (they’re not on Open Table). Our service was outstanding. Even though most of our party really enjoys Indian food, we’re by no means experts. Our waiter was patient, knew exactly how to interpret our questions about “spiciness”, and was spot-on in his recommendations.
We started off with some Tandoori Chicken wings (pic above is of the entree version Mrs. BWFD got) that were phenomenal. If you like Indian spices and hot chicken wings, then you’ll love these. We also got an order of Samosas and one of Pakora – I actually found both of these to be too bland for my tastes. While not on the menu, we were able to order papadums – they weren’t bad, but the sauces were slightly odd for papadums.
For the main course, I ordered Lamb Rogan Josh, a North Indian style dish. The flavor was complex and enjoyable. Since it wasn’t super spicy by default, our waiter brought some Vindaloo curry sauce to mix in. This was a perfect recommendation – it brought the heat up, but complemented the taste and spices already in the dish. Of course, we also ordered some Naan to go with the meal, and it was done just right. We all ordered different dishes and each one was excellent. Given the style of serving (as shown above), it would be quite easy to have a “family style” meal with each person ordering something different and sharing. (I sampled each dish, and was very impressed)
Given my affinity for beer, you might be wondering what I drank with this excellent Indian cuisine (or not, but I’m going to tell you anyway). Because I like a lot of spice, a strong or flavorful beer isn’t a good pairing with Indian food. I typically shy (far) away from mild lagers, but beers like Kingfisher actually provide a nice counterbalance to the spice without affecting the overall flavor.
To date, Tandoori Nights has taken the top spot as my favorite Indian Cuisine in the area.
Tandoori Nights is located in downtown Bethesda, about a block away from RiRa and Georgetown Cupcake.