There are no shortage of Indian places in Washington, D.C. and it’s fairly clear there are some front runners. For instance, you can’t really speak about Indian cuisine without mentioning Ashok Bajaj, The Godfather of bringing Indian food to DC with his first restaurant here, Bombay Club. Since then, the likes of Rasika have brought modern twists to Indian classics, paving the way for folks like Indique, the popular Pappe on 14th Street, and the over-the-top Punjab Grill.
While you can get simple street food style fare like Sev Puri at many of these places (and confession we LOVE the version served at Bombay Club), what about good old fashioned, highly spiced (which doesn’t always mean hot) Indian style street food? This is where Bombay Street Food II comes in.
Located in the Barracks Row neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Bombay Street Food II seeks to provide very affordable, highly flavorful Indian cuisine like one might find either on the streets of Bombay, or in a very moderately priced grab-and-go spot in India, or even in stalls near bus stops.
When you enter you can tell it is very casual and relaxed, but the fragrance and aroma from the open kitchen hits you like a freight train. Curry, cardamon, peppers, heat, spice, flavor…it immediately has you salivating and elevates your hunger to ravenous proportions. Which is nice because in addition to being very moderately priced, the portions are large.
Highly recommend getting the above and below appetizer to pair together, especially if going while folks who are spice adverse. While the Bhel Puri was spicy, it was certainly on the mild side, and the Palak Chat pictured below was nice to tamp it down before more intense dishes arrived.
This was a nice flavorful and cooling dish to pair with the puffed rice above. Honestly a perfect combination, however we must admit, the versions at Bombay Club and Rasika still have our hearts.
Our 2nd favorite dish of the night. A close tie for number one to be honest. This was PACKED with flavor. Perfectly seasoned and definitely spicy, served with traditional potato rolls and a cooling mix of onions, lemon and cucumbers. Like an insanely cravable Indian version of a Sloppy Joe, apparently very popular on the streets. We would come back anytime for just this a few very cold glasses of beer to wash it down. One of the best Indian dishes we have had in DC hands down.
From the Indo Chinese section of the menu, this dish resembles a “General Tso Chicken” one might find at any Chinese take-out. There wasn’t a heavy breading which was nice, and the sauce was smooth and balanced a sugary sweetness with a lingering long heat. It was a well thought out and balanced dish and one very good for those who may not like traditional Indian food.
Very tender, often bone-in chunks of goat meat simmered in a spicy thick and rich sauce. Absolutely amazing. Spicy with a warming sense, as in the faster you eat this the more intense the mouth heat becomes. Paired with delicious naan, rice, and some raita, this was out of bounds good. The goat was not gamey at all, and had a mild earthiness to it like lamb traditionally does. As one of the higher price points, it was worth it.
The BEST dish of the night, and the best chicken biryani we have had in DC. Presented covered in pastry table side, the bread is carved and pulled back by the server which unveils a piping hot steaming vat of flavored rice with tender chunks of chicken hidden inside. Unlike traditional biryani served at other places, this one packed a pleasant and mild kick. This is worth a repeated visit with a table of friends to help enjoy.
All in all, the highs at Bombay Street Food II are insanely high, and even the lows are still very good solid dishes that we are happy we ordered. We loved the flavors, the spice, and the heat. These dishes tasted of love, and are insanely affordable. We will return and recommend this to anyone who loves Indian food and is living in, or visiting DC.
And bonus points: everyday if you show an active military or Hill staff ID, you can get a lunch special combination vegetarian thali for $10 or non-vegetarian thali for $12.