Authentic Indian fare a short walk from the Capitol

Congressional staffers need not travel far for a taste of Southern Asia — they can walk to Aatish on the Hill, a nearby restaurant serving authentic Indian-Pakistani food.

Located at 609 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Aatish is a three-minute walk from the Eastern Market Metro stop or a nice stroll from the congressional office buildings — 10 minutes from the House side and 15 minutes from the Senate side.

Though a bit worn and ordinary, the restaurant’s exterior is no indication of what’s inside. Tables are covered in white cloths, and calm Pakistani music plays in the background. Mosaics hang from the salmon-colored walls.

For those tired of waiting in line at the trendier lunch spots around the Capitol, Aatish offers a quieter, less hectic experience. Diners rarely have a problem getting a table.

The restaurant’s daily “Jumbo Lunch Buffet” runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Diners can heap their plates with naan (traditional Indian bread), vegetable dishes, chicken curry and rice, among other options. At $9.95 per person, this may be the most cost-effective option. 

Aatish also offers several entrees, featuring lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetables. The portions are huge — come with a big appetite — but naan must be ordered on the side. These dishes range anywhere from $8 to $12.

One specialty among the many choices are the samosas. These dumpling-like treats are stuffed with potatoes and green peas and fried to perfection. The $4 appetizer is well worth the expense, and the two samosas that come with an order can easily be split between two diners.

Another standout is the Aloo Saag, which serves as a flavorful dish for vegetable lovers. The entree consists of potatoes cooked with spinach, herbs and spices. Restaurant goers can ask for their food prepared mild or spicy, but unless you’re a regular jalapeño eater, mild should be spicy enough. This dish comes with a side of rice and costs $7.95.

For those in a rush, food can be ordered for takeout, but the calming atmosphere of Aatish makes it hard to want to leave. The restaurant also has a bar for those who have a few extra minutes to spare on a lunch break. 

Perhaps the nicest thing about Aatish is that it welcomes everyone — from the lobbyist dressed in a business suit to the jeans-wearing grassroots activist. The delicious food, fair prices and pleasant ambiance beckon all.