Judging Restaurants – Rajaji

Last week a reader mentioned that they had heard Rajaji, located at 2603 Connecticut Ave NW, might be closing soon but when I went in to get confirmation – they denied that they were closing. Just in case I figure now is a good time to get a judging in. You can see their menus here.

I had no idea they’ve been open since 1969.

Any fans?

40 Comment

  • It’s middle of the road Indian food for this area, I’d say… but I’ll always have fond memories of Rajaji as it is where my wife and I had our first date, waaaay back when.

  • The Rajaji people seem to be really nice but, unfortunately, it’s a bad place to eat (I have an Indian friend who got food poisoning there once). It’s one of the many WP restaurants which shouldn’t actually still be in business but the two big hotels keep sending through new tourists/conventioneers which keeps them going. For Indian food, better off walking up to CP to hit Indique or Masala Art in Tenleytown.

    I really wish that Rajaji, that other Indian place which is now an Italian place (with the same cooks and servers, I think) and that diner kind of place which are all next to each other would all reinvent themselves or that new restaurants would move in.

    • I agree. The nice waiters don’t make up for the lousy food. It is definitly a tourist trap for the the Omni and Marriott guests. We went there earlier this summer and the chicken was dry, the bread burnt, and the flavor bland. Indique in Cleveland Park is the place to go on Connecticut Ave.

  • Bombay club > most Indian restaurants in DC.

    • Bombay Club is superb. As is Rasika. Indian food is actually a strength in DC when compared to other large American cities, even {gasp} New York. You can even get very good Indian food in Bethesda!

      • I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but DC is actually quite terrible for Indian food. Agreed, Bombay Club and Rasika are good, but first, they are very expensive and second, they cater mostly to their umm..non-Indian patrons. And even so, one has to escape to the boonies to get something that could be considered ‘authentic’ by South Asian standards. Actually, NYC has some of the best Indian food in the world; in fact, some of the Indian restaurants there are better than restaurants IN INDIA because there is intense competition between those places clustered on Curry Hill (Bhatti, Bhojan, Dhaba to name a few).

        • Much like Vietnamese, Korean, or Afghani food, you really need to go out to the suburbs to find good Indian food.

  • Im a big fan of their neighbor, Ton-o-Sushi.

  • I’m Indian. This place is atrocious. I found the service pretty weak (as is the case at many Indian joints), the food was mediocre, but perhaps most appalling, the supposed manager or owner sat at the bar and basically shooed us away when we asked if there was any Naan coming out for the buffet.

    I’d agree with previous posters — go to Indique, or Rasika if you can afford it or get a table. But I’d say the place in Georgetown — Bombay Palace is it? — next to (dearly departed) Furin’s, is really good, and you can almost always get a table.

  • File under “All restaurants on CT are either overpriced or outright suck”.

  • It’s easy to tell people to go to Rasika etc., and believe me I agree they are much better restaurants, but Rajaji fills a void. It is the best Indian place anywhere near Woodley/Adams Morgan. Agreed, that’s not saying much, but sometimes you just want a quick basic indian meal. The dinner is better than the buffet, but all the dishes are overpriced by about $2.

    • I’ve never been to Rajaji so can’t comment on that. However as far as Indian restaurants near Woodley/Adams Morgan go, how does Taj Mahal (http://www.tajmahaldc.com) compare? Or Himalayan Heritage (http://www.himalayanheritagedc.com)?

    • saf

      I prefer Jyoti, on 18th St.

      • jyoti is one of my favorite places for indian food in this town, too.

        i went to rajaji once about 5-6 years ago and was not impressed.

        • Wow, I am surprised by the love for Jyoti. I had one of the worst meals of my life there. It was 5-6 years ago and I always went to Rajaji since. Together these sort of prove the biased sample from any number of individual reviewers: one awful meal and you never go back.

      • There are three Indian restaurants on the corner of CT and Calvert and none of them are very good. I always go to Jyoti.

      • Agree with others, Jyoti is the best (in the Adams Morgan/Woodley Park area) for standard, non-fancy Indian food.

    • I’m no expert but I’ve always had a great meal at Jyoti in Adams Morgan. Not exactly the same neighborhood as this one, but if you think Woodley Park and Adams Morgan are the same neighborhood then I guess it is.

  • I’d rather have a Tasty Bite pouch than eat from that place.

  • We stopped going there years ago when we found someone’s check in our Vindaloo, and they would do nothing about it (would not replace or take the Vindaloo off our bill).


  • I was in the kitchen once, unspeakable filth is the only way to describe it. do not eat here if you value hygiene.

  • I don’t want to be too harsh here but it surprises me they stay in business year in and year out, yet Sake Club can’t manage to stay afloat.

    I am increasingly aware that I don’t understand the restaurant business one bit.

  • hate this place.

  • I’m sure there will be some turnover in WP in the coming years. Rajaji is actually the best of the 3 indian places in WP but the other 2 can go(one changed to italian hinting that it’s days are numbered). Jandara Thai is leaving from what I hear. and the Woodley Park cafe is a joke. No idea how that place stays open.
    I fear though that the spaces will just continue to be snatched up by chains like Noodles and Co/Hot-n-Juicy. I don’t know how the community can prevent this though. Is there anyway an ANC can impose an anti-franchise overlay or declare a moratorium on them? What is to prevent a Bubba Gump Shrimp or Hooters from opening in WP? I think the locals need to establish a business outreach program to try and lure classier local restaurant groups to invest in the neighborhood. Sure a Hooters would be profitable there but a Rustico would do even better.

    • I can never understand the blind resistance to chains. They may not be trendy or exotic, but they’re reliable and generally average or better (which is what allowed the brand to expand). That’s more than can be said for most of the options in Woodley Park. I’d rather go to Hot n Juicy for a $1 beer and an appetizer than to Trattoria Italiana, which it replaced, for a $20 plate of half-cooked pasta. Local isn’t always better, as this neighborhood proves quite plainly.

      In my opinion, a Rustico would not do particularly well there. Zoo traffic will not be drawn to an upscale beer bar with no kids menu, and hotel/conference crowds are more likely to venture out into the rest of the city or eat at their hotels. If “classy” restauranteurs thought there was money to be made in the area, they would have filled one of the empty buildings long ago. It’s just never going to be a destination dining scene, regardless of whether chains or local restaurants come in.

  • I’ve always felt like this place, the Indian-turned-Italian place, and the American restaruant or whatever are owned by the same people? They all of similar awnings, layout, and signs.

    Maybe that is how they’ve been able to stay in business? Sort of like how most of the (bad) restaurants on the Georgetown Waterfront are actually the same.

  • Tiffin in Langley Park is the best Indian joint in the area.

    • i like tiffin, but rasika is better, though twice the price.
      and heritage is as good as tiffin.

      • heritage in dupont? why is it that the hosts and waiters are all white people? it feels like applebee’s. love that it is a nice restaurant with an entire section of the menu devoted to street food, though. wish more places had it. papri chaaaaaaaaat!

    • Heritage over Tiffin anyday. Tiffin always seems a little bland to me. And I have never been nearly as impressed by Rasika as I think I should be.

  • Too much gas anyways…..pfffffff

  • I have consistently been happy with Fusion on GA.

  • Top Five Indian/Pakistani joints in the metro area:

    Rasika (DC)
    Woodlands (MD)
    Masala Art (DC)
    Ghar-e-Kabab (MD)
    Kabob Palace (VA)

    • Ahhh, don’t tell anybody about Ghar-e-Kabab or Kabob Palace! Those are mine! But both are fantastic.

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