Masala Art - SW Waterfront

4.1
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788 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary Indian

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Pre/post Theatre
Good Vegetarian Options
At long last, I have a good answer for theatergoers hoping to catch dinner near Arena Stage on the Southwest Waterfront. It’s called Masala Art and it’s a spinoff of the Indian restaurant of the same name in Tenleytown.

Since mid-July, when the second restaurant made its debut, loyalists have had rich reasons to dine closer to home. One is chicken tikka, its moist nuggets elevated with basil and lime leaves. Another is a south Indian fish curry that gathers chunks of cobia in a turmeric-tinted coconut milk gravy. (The dark purple rind in the bowl is kokum, a fruit that imparts a pleasant sweet-sour note.) Tender baby eggplant draped in a thick cloak of pureed peanuts, sesame seeds and tamarind makes for a meaty vegetarian meal.
1101 Fourth St. SW. 202-554-1101. masalaartdc.com.
WashingtonPost.com,
What 788 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
4.3
food
3.9
service
4.1
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
82% of people would recommend it to a friend
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M
Washington DC
39 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

We had the pre-theater dinner special, three courses for $35. The food was very good, the service was excellent, and the decor is very nice. We also stopped at the bar and had a very nice experience with the bartender and a few of the regulars. We would definitely go again, especially if we go to Arena Stage, which is just around the corner.

GB
Washington DC
19 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This visit my wife & I each ordered the pre-theater menu, choosing different appetizers & entrees, and the same dessert. Not only was everything delicious and served appropriately hot or chilled, but the service was very attentive. The food we didn't quite have enough appetite to finish was carefully packaged so we could take it with us. A very enjoyable dinner out.

D
Washington DC
16 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Always good food and service.
Great menu with so many choices. ...very good vegetarian options. Perfect place for dinner before attending Arena Stage.
They have a nice pre-theater menu.

G
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on September 29, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

Good in a pinch. But service is indifferent at best.

DS
Washington DC
17 reviews
Dined on September 22, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 3

I ordered the prawns, a broccoli and lentil appetizer, and mulch’s onion flatbread. The prawns came with lentil soup. But it was too peppery. I like hot food and have made it myself using Madhur Jeffrey’s cookbook. The prawns were raw, incendiary hot, but not very flavorful. I’ve had borh these fishes before at M A and they have been excellent but not this time. I took the prawns home and boiled them for 4 minutes. Made a nice lunch.

OT
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

Food and atmosphere perfectly lovely. Pre-theatre Arena Stage patrons — bill was incorrect, did not include discount on wine; 6;00 pm reservations, ordered food before 6:30pm per terms; but food service and bill not timely. Barely made it to theatre in time.

OT
Atlanta
2 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Booked for a birthday dinner. Food was great but nothing special done for birthday.

AR
Washington DC
27 reviews
Dined on August 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely love this restaurant...an excellent alternative to the wharf restaurants that are overpriced and overrated!

OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

Masala Art was listed on Open Table as taking part in DC restaurant week. When we arrived they said they were not participating. I’m not sure whether this is a mistake on the part of Open Table or the restaurant claimed to be taking part when they are not. It would be good to correct for next year.

SW
Washington DC
25 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 3ambience 2

The food at Masala Art/SW always is excellent. The service, however, can be spotty. Unfortunately the live music is far too loud & discomforting & can ruin an otherwise enjoyable dinner evening.

KS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 12, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 5

I have been to this restaurant before. The food and service were both excellent. However, this time the service was horrible and the food was mediocre. I am very disappointed!

F
Washington DC
31 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

This is a pretty restaurant that is convenient to Arena stage. The food was good, but not uniformly great. My husband had the Tandoori Chicken, which was terrific, but my fish dish was not as expected. It was described as a fish curry with coconut. Instead, it was a soupy tomato-based sauce, in which I could not detect any coconut. Since the main ingredient for the base is tomato, the menu should state as such. Our friends had the lamb, which was very good, but they also had the fish and were disappointed. In addition, the restaurant is very noisy once it fills up. I would recommend the restaurant to Arena Stage theater-goers for convenience, but not in general.

PT
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

We ordered the pre-theater menu, which entitles you to a half price bottle of wine (so good deal). The chicken appetizer was good, though it did not come with the yogurt as advertised. The entrees were mediocre. Two out of three of us did not get the entree we ordered, but we did not want to take the time to send the food back to the kitchen. Overall, I was disappointed with this restaurant.

A
Washington DC
43 reviews
Dined on August 8, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

The food was quite good. Our server, who was new, was very attentive, although a bit confused. She'll improve, I'm sure. You just need to allow enough time when you eat here -- it usually takes longer to get your food than expected.

RT
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 4

While the food was great, the service was slow, staff didn't seem to know about the food, took a long time to figure out which dishes met needs. Wrote ahead of time to share dietary restrictions and to say we were celebrating a birthday, neither of which was acknowledged.

N
London
39 reviews
Dined on August 1, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Good place for dinner before seeing a show at Arena Stage. The crowd at the bar can get a little loud, though, and sometimes the service is erratic.

OT
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on July 31, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

Except for the helpful hostess, the service in the bar area was subpar notwithstanding that they were not busy. The food was overpriced given the lack of quality and portion size in relation to average Indian restaurants. On our way into the restaurant a man who turned out to the bartender, let the door close on my wife, instead of holding it.

TS
Washington DC
66 reviews
Dined on July 30, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Nice wine list, and really flavorful Indian food. Very good with a nice atmosphere.

LJ
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on July 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place for drinks and dinner after visiting Arena stage.

MA
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

This was truly the worst dinning experience my husband and I had. The service was awful. The food was cold and had to send back our overly priced lamb chops. We were told by the waitress that the kitchen has issues and the restaurant was understaffed. We will never come back and will pass this experience to our friends and family and our customers at our Business we run.

R
Washington DC
87 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 1food 5service 1ambience 5

Beautiful restaurant with very tasty Indian food (if you like it spicy) but the service is HORRIBLE. Hostess didn't know what was going on--seated us 1/2 hour past our reservation and almost took another party who tried to bogart our table. She never apologized for the wait. To top it off the bartender was nowhere to be seen until just before our table was ready, and when we arrived there were only about 6 people at the bar and no one besides me waiting for a drink. Once we were seated it was apparent that the waiter was totally overwhelmed--we waited for 15 minutes before he even showed up and I explained that we only had an hour to eat. Regardless, our drinks took forever and arrived at the same time as our food, we had to wait to get our check, the extra bread we ordered never arrived, and during all this time there were 4 tables empty with the bar area packed with people waiting to be seated. We missed our performance as a result (they did not allow late entries). Clearly this place is terribly mismanaged. If you have all the time in the world and nowhere to go, I'd recommend it because the food is tasty and the restaurant is quite pretty, but you could starve to death waiting for service....

SV
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 4

Went for a pre-theater dinner and service was unusually slow. It took about a half hour to get our cocktails and we had to leave for the theater before we finished our drinks. Food was delicious -- just wish we had more time to enjoy it.

OT
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

Good quality food at a great value. Wait staff gets overwhelmed at Arena pre-theater time, which is unfortunate since it is the one good restaurant within 2-3 blocks of the theater.

T
Washington DC
49 reviews
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent buffet. Lots of vegetarian choices. Large selection of cold salads. Desserts were very tasty. Service is always the best. Can’t wait to go back

Q
1 review
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Try the pre-theater menu, a good value at $35 per person for three courses. The food is spicy and authentic! Service was excellent with waitress refilling my water glass constantly. The restaurant is conveniently located near the Metro, and not quite as crowded as those restaurants nearby on the Wharf.

C
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on July 24, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 4

Waitstaff poorly trained. This is the second time we went, once 7 months ago when they were fairly new, and we decided to try them again before going to Arena. Both times had a similar experience with waitstaff. They are polite order takers, with little to no knowledge of the menu, and no ability to offer suggestions. Food service slow. Food quality hit or miss. 3 friends enjoyed their meal, mine was super salty. They are located in a great restaurant area, and they need to up their quality to compete. I would not go back at this point, although I love Indian.

E
Washington DC
28 reviews
Dined on July 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was a much better experience than I’ve had in the past at Masala Art SW. previously, the food was consistently excellent (why I go back) but everyone seemed annoyed and rushed and service was slow. This time, it was much more relaxed and enjoyable.

OT
Washington DC
46 reviews
Dined on July 13, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

This is not your standard run-of-the-mill Indian restaurant. While there were a few familiar dishes on the menu, there were many more I'd never seen before in Indian restaurants and I was eager to try them. We got a series of appetizers that were beautifully presented, new (for me) and different, really tasty if spicy. I want to go back to try all the other "non-standard" fare. The service was good, though the waiter could have been more attentive to drink refills--we would have had another beer if the waiter had asked or was even around for me to ask. Same with water refills, could have been better. While the head water was friendly, the back waiter who delivered the food was gruff and intimidating. I mentioned this to the manager on the way out: Great food, service could have been better. And the noise level was completely reasonable.

GR
1 review
Dined on July 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A great take on classic Indian dishes in a modern setting!

K
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on July 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food and really reasonable service was great

AF
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Exquisite meal, ranks easily with or better than recent Rasika fare but at a fraction of the price. Can't wait to go back.

j
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Much improved since a few years ago. Really excellent now.

f
Washington DC
33 reviews
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

The food was great and the portions were generous. I love the way the place was decorated. It was a bit too noisy for our group of 7 to easily hear each other across the round table. We had to speak with raised voices to be heard above the din. The one downfall was the service. The waiter never seemed to be looking our way, so one of us was always jumping up from the table to physically bring him to us, for whatever the request was. Then he brought the check without asking whether anyone wanted dessert or coffee (which several people did want). So he quickly withdrew the checks and took the orders for those items. Still it didn't spoil our overall experience and I would recommend the restaurant.

OT
Baltimore
2 reviews
Dined on July 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was excellent, flavorful, not oily with generous portions. The appetizers - pani puri, Bhel puri were great. Each Pani puri had its own soup spoon so it was each to eat and later use it to drink the pani puri sauce - nice touch.

We ordered a variety of naans. Each type was done very well even the butter naan was not greasy (which in most restaurants is slathered with butter).

Ambience was great, good decor and seating.

The service was fine. The waiter brought some more food than we ordered (perhaps someone else’s order which they quickly correctly).

r
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on June 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Noise level can be bothersome but this time was much better. Food is consistently wonderful, traditional with just the right amount of creativity with flavors and combinations.

BA
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 5

Much better than expected and this is coming from a foodie. We chose the tasting menu which meant five courses to include an Amuse and each course had its own wine pairing. Only issue I had was that the wine tasted cheap and the wines were not transitioned out to match the course, it was a choice between one red or one white which didn't match what was on the menu. The wine options were not as advertised for the tasting menu.

OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very good food, great service, moderate price ez walk to Arena Stage, I recommend it!

w
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Server was outstanding. Very helpful, pleasant attitude and attentive. Made celebrating one of our guests birthday a very special occasion.

JW
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great Indian food. Went two nights in a row for an encore dining experience.

M
New York Area
112 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

We had the $45 tasting menu. It is a lot to eat, but gives you a variety of dishes. The food was all very good. Our server Leo was very attentive, but not overbearing. It was nice to find a quiet place to eat in DC, especially in the Wharf District. I thought the tasting menu was a very good value for all the food you received. We could not finish it all.

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