Spice 6: Naan Pizza

Spice 6 Naan Pizza

There’s nothing better than food that proves you wrong. Fast casual CAN be flavorful. Fast casual CAN mean from-scratch cooking. Fast casual CAN be so good that it warrants a trip down Rhode Island Avenue to Hyattsville, MD.

Meet Spice 6, a fast casual Indian restaurant that only shares one thing in common with the Chipotle concept: Speed. Spice 6 hasn’t conformed to be bland. Those who fervently avoid shy spices and mild flavor will see what we mean, especially if they go off menu by requesting Vik’s hot sauce.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Naan Pizza is innovative, yet familiar enough that Indian newbies will feel comfortable. Load up a freshly baked round of naan with a sauce (Tikka Masala, Kadai Masala, Korma Masala or Spinach Masala) plus a protein (chicken, lamb, veggies, tofu or house made paneer cheese). Complete your pizza with a few more toppings and mozzarella cheese before it goes back in the oven for a hot sec. Then, BOOM New Delhi Domino’s to the face.

In choosing your protein remember that lamb is the reigning defending, undefeated, undisputed champion of Indian food. It’s not like chicken, which just sits there soaking up sauce. The owner, Vik Singh, must really trust his Nepali Chef, Upendra Thapaliya. Being a strict vegetarian, Vik’s never tried the meaty parts of his menu. Don’t worry Vik, your chef’s got it under control.

Spice 6 Chaat

Another top pick is the chaat, a typical Indian street food. In a year when street food is king (even Anthony Bordain is opening up a street food hall in NYC), the chaat is a must try. Fried strips of naan are topped with a savory pile of chickpeas, herbs and sauces (the best of which is a sticky sweet tamarind chutney). Wash it all down with a mango lassi.

Naan pizza not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like Rasika or Bombay Club.

Bombay Club: Club Thali

Bombay Club Thali

It a small plates world, Bombay Club offers the Indian way to eat a little bit of everything. These samplers are known as “thalis” and the Best Thing on the Menu is most definitely the Club Thali – fish, chicken, lamb, vegetable, dal, lemon rice and raita. Thali eaters are privy to the holy trinity of curry proteins: chicken, lamb and fish along with veggie accompaniments like lentils and spinach as well as the requisite starches, naan and rice. We have yet to go to another Indian restaurant in DC that offers thalis, but will certainly be on the lookout. For more on thalis, check out CNN’s coverage of Mumbai’s best eats.

Bombay Club was Ashok Bajaj’s first restaurant, opening its doors before Rasika and Rasika West End, which also serve delicious and adventurous Indian, but with less of a Washington feel. Steps from the White House, Bombay Club has a real special air to it. The dining room is elegant, the service is top notch and the quiet atmosphere lends itself to easy conversation.

Our waiter informed us that Bombay Club is of great importance to Bajaj, who visits daily (sometimes several times) to ensure that everything is meticulously in its place. This makes sense seeing that the restaurant has hosted the likes of U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, President Nelson Mandela, Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford to name a few.

Bombay Club Lamb Shank

In addition to being a little more formal and stately than its Indian cousins Rasika and Rasika West End, Bombay Club is also a little more spicy. We particularly liked the lamb shank dish, which tasted like Christmas on a plate and brought some gentle heat.

Club Thali not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.