Masala Art - SW Waterfront

4.0
738 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary Indian
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 738 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.0based on recent ratings
4.2
food
3.6
service
4.1
ambience
3.9
value
Noise · Moderate
85% of people would recommend it to a friend
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S
Jacksonville
6 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

My daughter and I seated with only a small delay-a nice seat in an otherwise nearly empty restaurant
our pre-dinner drink request was simple and almost well-handled, server poured water over the table and noticed only after we advised, promptly and apologetically cleaned
the chicken appetizer was tastier than expected, one veg, one lamb entree good, stingy on rice
dessert coffees surprised server who must have been new-very kind but hovered too much

will likely return, maybe even in 2019, but will almost certainly sit, eat, and drink in the bar area.

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CS
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Our otherwise cheerful server never introduced himself, which seemed odd. We appreciated that he answered our numerous questions about the menu, but after we ordered our food, he never came back to check on us, or to find out if we needed anything else, even though we had mentioned we might order something else.

The food overall was well seasoned. We especially enjoyed the chicken tikka appetizer, the chickpea biryani, and the goat-cheese-stuffed bread. Delicious! And we didn’t have to wait long for the food.

I would go back again despite the odd service.

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WA
Baltimore
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food was excellent and tastefully prepared. Seasoning was to all four members of our dinner party. The service was impeccable our waiter was very patient and explained any dish we had questions about. I will be returning .

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PO
Denver
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

We arrived at 5:00 PM on a rainy Sunday and had the place to ourselves. Our waiter was responsive, the food very good. I recommend the rock salt naan and the chili garlic naan. The place filled up by 7:00.

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S
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on May 11, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

Great food, great atmosphere! Among the best Indian food in DC.

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MG
Washington DC
14 reviews
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very very good! My sister and I had the tasting menu which gave a very good selection of the restaurants’ food. Even though our waiter was new, he was very thoughtful and attentive. Good prices, excellent service and pleasant atmosphere. Will definitely be back!

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KM
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on April 29, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

We had lunch reservations. Promptly seated but took at least 20 minutes before wait staff appeared. Restaurant was not busy. Food was very good but again probably 20 minutes before it arrived. Pace was just a bit too leisurely.

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N
Washington DC
33 reviews
Dined on April 28, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 3

The food was good, but the restaurant was clearly overwhelmed by the combination of a birthday party and a rush of pre-theater diners. We did make our 7:30 curtain, but the slow service created tension that detracted from the enjoyment of the experience.

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LK
Las Vegas
8 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent as always

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SQ
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

The restaurant is OK but the service is incredibly slow and anxious making for theater goers. We had to ask multiple times for drinks, some food items and bill. They need to hire more waiters.

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OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

We were there and fabulous. The food was awesome but an extra waiter or two would have helped the waiter to table ratio for service levels.

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KB
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 5

A wonderful surprise. My friend and I had the Tasting Menu. It truly provided an excellent assortment of all the different flavors available, and everything was delicious. Like other reviews I will say the service was a little off, but I think ours may have been due to the waiter being new. As other staff noticed, they pitched in to help, and genuinely showed an effort to be attentive and accommodating. Overall the experience was very satisfying and I believe that if notified of theater tickets or other scheduling issues up front, Masala staff would ensure the service was as prompt as possible. Highly recommend.

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A
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on April 26, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Best things about the restaurant: ambience! (it is not too loud) and the food was excellent. The service was slow. Admittedly we did not adequately alert the waiter about our theater tickets until we realized that dinner was taking a really long time to appear, so don't make that mistake if you go. It was about 45 minutes from ordering to having food on the table on a Friday night at 6:30. Once the food arrived, we were really happy because it was very delicious!

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GB
Washington DC
18 reviews
Dined on April 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

My wife and I went to Masala Art for dinner before going to see a play at the Area Theatre. The food was extremely tasty, both the appetizer and dessert, both of which we split, and our entrees. The delivery of our food was timed almost perfectly, and the waitstaff were extremely attentive without being intrusive. We both enjoyed it very much.

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JL
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on April 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Good food and great service!

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k
New York Area
30 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

The food was great, no doubt there but the service was a bit slow and our waitress was not very hygenic handling the food, her fingers dipped into the food while she was placing the dishes on the table. I think she definitely needs to be re-trained. The manager and the hostess were great and made us feel welcome.

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d
New York Area
7 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love this place! Their food is always delicious, service gracious and efficient, lovely atmosphere, not too noisy, convenient for a pre-theater dinner.

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MA
Washington DC
63 reviews
Dined on April 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

The food was excellent. It's my favorite Indian restaurant. Lots of really nice options on the menu. Love the spicy Tandoori Prawns!

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KK
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The brunch is a great deal. Good food at a good price!

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BC
Washington DC
8 reviews
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

We were happily surprised at our experience. We did pre-theater dinner for Arena Stage and it worked beautifully. The food was interesting and good. It was all very pleasant.

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o
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on April 2, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 3

This is probably the 5th or 6th time I’ve eaten here before a show, and this time the service was terrible and the food was barely okay. We showed up at 6:30 for a 7:30 show. We ordered the prix fixe menu so we could have a faster meal. We let the server know we had to leave by 7:15 for the show, and he assured us we would receive our meal in plenty of time. We didn’t receive our drinks until the second course, and our meal took so long that we couldn’t eat the last course. We didn’t have time to box up our leftovers, and our water was not filled the entire time.

I wish this was a better option for dinner before seeing a show at Arena Stage. The service and value were abysmal and the restaurants was not that busy. I won’t be going back after this experience.

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OT
1 review
Dined on March 28, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

When going to Arena Stage, going to Masala Art -SW Waterfront is an added treat and the menu has lots of variety.

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M
Washington DC
15 reviews
Dined on March 27, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Pre-theatre Dinner

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D
Washington DC
11 reviews
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great place, very tasty food and good service. The food is amazing, a lot of new things and a very good price.

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WB
1 review
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very good food, reasonable portions and prices and music (soprano sax with recorded backing tracks- top notch musicianship)

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RB
1 review
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 4

Terrific food, but experience tainted by being woefully understaffed. Admittedly 6:00 on a Saturday and perhaps many like us were eating before an 8:00 Arena Stage curtain. Our server was hard working but clearly overwhelmed by the number of tables she was covering. Previous visits were before Sunday shows and didn't have nearly the problem.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 3

Delicious food. Service slow and inaccurate, as was the bill.

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NY
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on March 8, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

great stop before Arena Stage- especially with happy hr at bar till 8 pm

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OT
Washington DC
8 reviews
Dined on March 8, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 1ambience 3

I have been to this restaurant many times and have always liked it. However, this time we had a new waiter and a very bad experience. He could not seem to understand what we wanted to order and put in the wrong order. This meant we had to wait for half of our meal and then had to wolf it down when it came because we had to get to the theatre. I hope this waiter is not there next time we go back or that he has had considerable training.

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Q
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on March 7, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

Have dines there pre theater many times. Sadly the service was lacking. Orders entered late. Plates not cleared. Just sloppy service. Food very good as always.

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S
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined on March 7, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

The food we ordered varied in quality from excellent to decent to below par. However, what was notable about our experience was the complete cluelessness of our waiter.

It began with him asking for our order seconds after we sat down. When we advised we were not ready, but to come back in a few minutes, he didn't, and we could not get his attention for 15 minutes. By then, we were slightly concerned about having time to finish our meal before the theater. So we skipped ordering wine. Our waiter was totally unfamiliar with the menu, and we had to show him where each dish we were ordering was printed. Our appetizer and entrees did come promptly and were correct. Our waiter never checked back with us, and we had to flag him down to order dessert and coffee. The coffee came promptly (each cup was only half-filled), but the dessert never came. Neither did our waiter to give us a check; we had to walk over to the manager and also make sure the dessert we never received was credited. To the manager's credit, he brought us a (different) free dessert, but we didn't have time to eat it before leaving.

Our fellow diners also had poor service. We saw entrees delivered to the wrong table. And the diners at the table next to us never received their bread order until after they had finished their dinners and had canceled the bread order.

We will not be returning.

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KS
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Awesome service! Seated right away! Food was outstanding!!!

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Great restaurant near Arena Stage. Good variety of Indian dishes, including lots of veggie options. Love the Naan.

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GB
Washington DC
19 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

As usual, the food was excellent, we enjoyed our shared appetizer & our two entrees. There appears to have been some turnover in the waitstaff recently, and our waitress seemed new at her job, including somehow not writing our appetizer on our order slip, a fault soon corrected.
The sound level was higher than usual due to a lot of conversations plus music in the bar area.

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S
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

No I would not ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::(

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LE
New Orleans
2 reviews
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Server did not know the menu; had to look as we pointed to items. Theater menu advertises half price for bottle of wine, but we were charged full price. Lots of sauce with little protein. Everything tasted like cardamom. Might have been better had we ordered from the regular menu.

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MS
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on February 15, 2019
Overall 3food 1service 3ambience 3

We ordered, as we normally do, baingan bharta. Instead of it being the consistency of a veggie "stew," the dish that arrived at our table was, quite literally, a soup, with pieces of eggplant floating in it. We asked our wait staff, and she said that was the normal presentation, which it quite clearly is not.
Very very disappointing.

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M
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 5

Something was not going right at Masala Art the night we went. After being there for an hour, we had received about 4 bites of food. We had to get to the theater so they threw some random first course bowls our way. We did not get a full meal. The food we got was good. I would try Masala Art again, but not on a busy night.

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C
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

Horrible. 100% horrible. It was a strange pre fix menu with a bunch of dishes that I didn't recognize. The food was horrible . The service was also horrible. Our waiters was really nice, but it took over 90 minutes to get our food. That seemed to be the problem for everybody.

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D
Washington DC
39 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 3

Sadly, the whole restaurant experience was a comedy of errors. They clearly were unprepared for their Valentine's Day diners, yet my guest and I couldn't figure out why the service was so terrible when they were offering a very limited holiday menu with the same appetizers and deserts for everyone and only 6 simple dishes offered as main courses (3 options on the vegetarian set menu and 3 on the non-vegetarian set menu) all accompanied by rice and paratha. We arrived at 6 p.m. and they served the food in the wrong order starting about 45 minutes later and it was mostly lukewarm and not nearly as good as my previous two dinners there. The best dish was the "amuse bouche" of roasted brussel sprouts which, while delicious, isn't an Indian dish. It also took over an hour (after asking 4 times) to get my friend's cocktail served - a mojito that was all rum, no soda, and one mint leaf. We took the dessert samplers as carryout because it was taking too long..and ended up tossing them because they weren't very good. The harried manager did at least remove our 2 cocktails from the final bill after I complained. I don't know what the trouble was, but I've never seen a whole restaurant staff from top to bottom so obviously panicking and overwhelmed.

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