Tandoori Nights

Written by on October 10, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(tandoorinights.com) – Clarendon neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: Initally, I had noticed the spot when Chris and I would walk through the Market Common on our walks to Georgetown. But, four of our friends (two married couples) highly recommended the place for their delicious cuisine. We found a coupon in our newly-acquired Entertainment Book for Washington, DC & Northern Virginia, and simply had no excuse not to try it.

Type of cuisine: Extremely mild, Indian-inspired foods.

Ambiance: Up the stairs at the Market Common and into the space called Tandoori Nights, one is first welcomed to an uncovered, outdoor patio, complete with host and server! Upon entering the double-glass doors, one enters a grand space with tall ceilings, brown wooden floors, pale yellow walls accented with wooden chair/booth backs and wall spaces, as well as curved, whimsical shapes throughout. The whimsy is most noticable by way of the brown- and beige-toned veil-like fabrics draped across the ceiling, in front of the windows and overhead as couples and families dine in booth seating. A curved top of wood over a pale green, cushioned bench allows for overflows of people as they wait to be seated, though on this evening, the extra space was less than necessary. Detailed and vibrant paintings create murals along the ceilings and diving walls, in bright oranges, deep blues, of regal women and nightscapes of whispy clouds, stars and a full moon.


The theme of polka-dots can be caught throughout despite its subtle nature: as glass casing for bar beverages, creating patterns on the walls from dotted votive candle holders in oranges and whites, as booth seat-backs in velvety rusts, browns and oranges. At the front, prior to entering the extensive and expansive back dining area, wine bottles are displayed like artwork in a perfect square, approximately four feet by four feet (4×4) set back into a larger lit square, creating the illusion of uncertainty – between a box coming at you and one extending farther away from you. Curved glass hangs over the booths at the back of the bar, where polka-dotted bottle shelves work their way into checked glass ribs. Tables and chairs are also available in dark wood, almost black in color, to nearly blend into the alternating dark- and light- wooden floorboards. The painted wall beyond leads to the kitchen, hidden from diner attention, views and fragrances. Rounded, orange cushioned booths in the open as well as those fancifully and carefully draped with chiffon linens are both lit with plastic, curvy lights, resembling IKEA clouds hang from the ceilings above. As do recessed lights in hues of blue, set in the tiled ceiling panels. Seating is availble for larger parties in an enclave to the right of the restrooms hallway, cloud lights and whimsical fabric elegantly draped overhead. Soft music is heard gently streaming the hidden speakers in the establishment; while quiet, it still masks the clanking of dishes in the near-by kitchen, where tandoori orders steam and sizzle their way out and into our midst.

What I ordered: Being our first visit to Tandoori Nights, we decided to order the Vegetable Samosas ($5.99 for two) to start: seasoned potatoes and green peas wrapped in a deep-fried light pastry.

Vegetable Samosas

While awaiting our orders, one of the staff brought us a basket of poppadoms with three sauces: a slightly sweet tamarind, yellow mustard, and a mint sauce with the slightest hint of spice.


For our main entrees we selected two of our favorites: Chicken Tikka Masala ($14.99), barbecued cubes of chicken cooked with onion, bell peppers in “tomatoes” sauce and Chicken Korma Kashmiri ($15.99), chicken cooked in creamy sauce with almonds, fruits and dried nuts, “lightly spiced“. And a Garlic Naan ($3.99), freshly baked white bread topped with garlic and fresh butter, and a sprinkling of parsley flakes helped us clean our plates.

Dinner at Tandoori Nights

What I loved: The flavor of the Tikka Masala was our overall favorite, but we both strained to find the flavor behind the curries. Chris had to add salt to the rice and curry in order to get a semblance of flavor from the subdued tastes and blandness of the foods. The creaminess was beautiful and the fresh vegetables crisp and colorful, which gave vibrance and texture to the food.


Why I loved it: The restaurant is large and spacious, colorful, vibrant and classy. The fragrance of Indian food cooking in the distance leaves one without carrying the odors of spices and fried food out the door with you (in your hair, on your person, etc.)

Cost: Average to high ($13.99 – $21.99 per dinner entree)

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