We had heard rave reviews about Rasika, and then we got word that almost everything on the menu is gluten free. So we decided to dine here one night before a Caps game at the Verizon Center. We had our kids with us. While not the most adventurous eaters, they have had Indian food before -- both at a few other restaurants in the States and in the UK as well as at home (my attempts to make Indian food using one of the many brands of simmer sauces available at the grocery store!). We were not disappointed. Rasika is conveniently located in the Penn Quarter area of NW Washington DC, just a couple blocks from the Verizon Center. The restaurant is beautiful, but it books up early, so you need to make reservations well in advance. They open at 5:30, but the bar opens at 5:00 pm. If you arrive between 5:00 and 5:30, you can most likely secure one of the tables across from the bar that they reserve for walk-ins.
The food is divine. Our server was very friendly and attentive. He explained that virtually everything is gluten free, and he pointed out the few things on the menu that aren't. We were also assured that the kitchen staff is very careful about avoiding cross contamination when preparing food for gluten free diners. We ordered two appetizers, the lamb Seekh Kebab and the Palak Chaat, a crispy baby spinach lightly dusted in chick pea flour and fried, served with sweet yogurt tamarind and date chutney. This is not something that we would have ordinarily thought to order, but our server recommended it as the house specialty and the most popular item on the menu. Now we know why! It was incredibly delicious. Even our sons liked it! For our main course, we decided to choose two lamb dishes and two chicken dishes to share between the four of us. We went with the Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori Chicken Tikka, Kohlapuri Lamb, and Ananas Gosht (lamb). All were good, but I'd especially recommend the Kohlapuri Lamb...so tender and just the right amount of spice. They even offer a gluten free pancake-type bread instead of traditional naan for those who are gluten free. I love Indian desserts, so I saved room for the Carrot Halwa, a traditional Indian dessert of sweetened mashed carrots with saffron sabayon and cardamom ice cream. So unique and so divine! (They did warn me that there is a risk of cross contamination with this, but since it's my son, not me, that has Celiac, I was okay with that. Talk to them about it if you're interested. I believe all the ingredients are gluten free, as long as you order it without the small triangle of phyllo pastry that comes on top of it (more like a decoration). I would highly recommend this restaurant if you're gluten free and like Indian food...or even if you've never had Indian food. The friendly and helpful staff will help you make good choices, and there are many of them that are gluten free, to be sure! The prices aren't bad for a restaurant with a nice ambiance, great food, and excellent service. Just make reservations well in advance -- or arrive early to try for one of the "walk in" tables.