Top 5 Non-Traditional Indian Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

Ranging from modest holes in the wall to imperial establishments rivaling the Taj Mahal in grandeur, the most impressive Indian restaurants in Washington, D.C. vary just as much as the country's differing regions. With menus that cross over from classic fare and venture into adventurous territories, these eateries fly in the face of tradition and offer Washingtonians a taste of India's best - with a twist. Here are five must-tries.

243 K St., NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

A chalkboard menu, writing etched over warm mustard-hued walls, vibrant decor, and a door-less kitchen capture a certain cozy ambiance at the quietly lavish Indigo. Menus change regularly (check their Twitter feed for updates) at this family-owned operation, which offers a variety of meat and vegetarian options. Sit outdoors and indulge in a black pepper and fenugreek paratha (a fried bread) - it's a rarity not commonly spotted on Indian menus.

Le Mirch
1736 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

When is an Indian restaurant not just an Indian restaurant? When it fuses with a hint of Parisian charm to form Le Mirch. The Dupont-based establishment features a menu of what it dubs "modern Indian," emphasizing gluten-free and vegan options for those with specialty diets. Highlights include a creamy mango cheesecake and a grilled cheese sandwich brightened by beetroot sauce.

Curry & Pie
1204 34th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

It's possible you'll drive right by Curry & Pie without even realizing it, so obscure is its location. Set in an intimate two-story row house in Georgetown, the quaint restaurant defies convention with a menu of creative fusion dishes. The French fry chaat combines one of India's most beloved street foods with an American mainstay, while the saag paneer curry pie refreshes boring old pizza with robust South Asian flavor.

American Tandoor
7943B Tysons Corner Center
Vienna, VA 22102

The American influence is strong at this aptly named haunt located in a Northern Virginia shopping mall. There are mini masala burgers that take their cue from sliders; spicy pork sandwiches made with naan flatbreads; and fried chicken made on a traditional Indian tandoor. There are plenty of unique vegetarian options, as well as a limited selection of Indo-Chinese dishes.

415 7th St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

Simplicity reigns supreme at Merzi, where everything is laid out before you in an assembly-line style formation. Start with a base of naan, salad, Basmati rice, or a vegetable medley. Then make your way through the toppings, which range from meats to vegetables to chutneys. Finish with a samosa or naan and a beverage. It's that easy - and probably why it's known locally as the Indian answer to Chipotle.