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Indian Restaurants

I have been thoroughly fanatical about Indian food since 2001. The mere mention of cumin or cardamom or some other ingredient can start me daydreaming about an Indian meal. Whenever I visit a new city (fairly often, because of my current job), I try to make time to find an Indian restaurant. This list includes all but five or six of the restaurants I've visited, roughly in order of their quality. At the end of each description is the approximate year(s) of my visit(s).

The Truly Greats

Taste of Tandoor, 13836 Smoketown Road, Woodbridge, Virginia 22191, (703) 897-7200

This is the one that started it all; my first Indian meal! Dimly-lit and quiet, in a suburban strip mall. Reliably excellent food. Buffet every day for lunch. Hands-down, this restaurant has the best raita I've ever tasted (lots of roasted cumin). (2001-2010)

Bombay House, 463 N. University Avenue, Provo, Utah 84601, (801) 373-6677 (Also located in Salt Lake City: 2731 E Parley's Way, Salt Lake City 84109, (801) 581-0222.)

Delightful chicken coconut kurma (interesting pockets of sweetness from the "golden raisins"); excellent spicing in the mulligatawny soup; and one of the best tikki sauces I've ever tried. Very nice decor, on a pleasant college-town street. (2009, 2010)

Mother India Buffet & Cuisine, 1030 J Street, Sacramento, California 95814, (916) 491-4072

Sunny building, on a pleasant pedestrian street corner. Buffet every day for lunch, with a larger and more variable selection than most Indian buffets. Consistently excellent food. (NOTE: I understand that this restaurant changed its format in 2008, and it may have declined in quality.) (2002-2004, 2006)

The Really Good Ones

Chez Riz, 366 Queen Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, (506) 454-9996

Excellent use of spices; best mulligatawny soup I've ever had. Interesting smallish dining room. (2010)

Pintu's Indian Palace, 217 Elm Street, West Springfield, Massachusetts 01089, (413) 788-4929

Smallish but nice dining room. Excellent food. Very friendly proprietor (Pintu), who gives a lot of attention to preparing dishes to the customer's taste. (2003)

New Delhi Restaurant, 160 Ellis Street, San Francisco, California 94102, (415) 397-8470

Medium-size, high-ceilinged dining room, across the street from a very nice hotel (the Parc 55). The best chicken tikki masala I've ever had. A little expensive. (2004, 2010)

Naan n' Curry, 336 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, California 94102, (415) 346-1443

Buffet for lunch and dinner, with a huge selection. Very good food; excellent chickpea masala and interestingly green baingan bartha. (2010)

Taste of India, 851 Savannah Highway, Charleston, South Carolina 29407, (843) 556-0772

Excellent spicing, including in the rice, although the sauces and the spinach were a little on the runny side. One of the best raitas I've had. Buffet every day for lunch. (2011)

Mt. Everest Restaurant, 618 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois 60201, (847) 491-6036

Good food, relaxed atmosphere. (2004)

Delhi Palace, 1029 Briargate Circle, Columbia, South Carolina 29210, (803) 750-0866

Excellent chicken saag (chicken with spinach), and one of the best tamarind sauces I've ever had (plenty of kick). Buffet every day for lunch, and for dinner on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. (2005)

Mela, 1921 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, (416) 782-9934

Papadum included with dinner, along with a wonderful tamarind sauce and mango chutney. Pretty good raita. (2010)

Mayur, 2931 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, California 92625, (949) 675-6622

Tiny dining room, but very good food. (2005)

Maharaja Indian Cuisine, 139 Zan Road, 29 N. Seminole Square, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901, (434) 973-0440

Suburban mall, with a relaxed atmosphere. Good for children. (2004)

India Restaurant, 729 J Street, Sacramento, California 95814, (916) 448-9046

Looks a bit like a "hole in the wall" from the outside, but very good food. (2003?)

Taj India, 73 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111, (801) 596-8727

Looks like a real hole-in-the-wall from the outside; the neighborhood is so run down that I was a bit nervous about going in. But once inside, the atmosphere was fine. Very good food. (2004)

Star of India Restaurant, 423 F Street, San Diego, California 92101, (619) 234-8000

Very busy restaurant in a pedestrian shopping area. Excellent food. (2004)

Mela Tandoori Kitchen, 417 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, California 94102

This is a switch: the exterior was very inviting, the dining room small and windowless. But the food was very good, through three or four visits. (2004)

Taj Palace, 6700 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, Texas 78752, (512) 454-0755

Large dining room, very nice. A separate building on a wide, busy street. Excellent food. (2003)

Namaste ("India's Restaurant"), 5230 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70808, (225) 7690600

Huge dining room, very well-appointed. A separate building on a wide, busy street. Excellent food. (2003)

Tantric Indian Bistro, 123 Stuart Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116, (617)367-8742

Good chicken curry; pretty good raita. Very nice dining room. (2010)

Masala Magic Indian Fusion, 14313 Potomac Mills Road, Woodbridge, Virginia, (703) 491-4900

Pretty good dinner. Other family members tried the lunch buffet and were not very impressed. (2009)

New Punjab Indian Restaurant, 7451 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819, 407-352-7887

Smallish dining room in a suburban strip mall, well-removed from the hubbub around Disney. Very good food. (2004)

The White Tiger, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 546-5900

Pretty good food. Buffet for lunch. The plates are metal, which causes the food to cool too quickly. (2004-2005, 2010)

Okay, but nothing to write home about

Aangan Indian Cuisine, 3500 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17109, (717) 909-7777

The food was good, but our service was abysmally slow. Maybe one of our dishes caused an unusual delay; other tables seemed to be served more punctually. (2010)

India Palace, 98 West Center Street, Provo, Utah 84601, (801) 373-7200

The spinach was fairly well spiced, but too mashed and runny. (2009)

Punjab Kabah House, Mason & Eddy Streets, San Francisco, California

Not the best decor, but reliably good food through several carry-out lunches. (2004)

Taj Mahal Restaurant, 1327 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., (202) 659-1544

Okay decor, in a busy pedestrian area of D.C. The okra was pretty good, and the mint chutney was one of the best I've had. But the spinach was very plain, and it had (raw) tofu instead of paneer. (2005)

India Pavilion, 2011 Divine Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29205, (803) 252-4355

Average-size dining room with extremely Spartan decor, in a downtown area with a distinctly small-town feel. A bit dumpy-looking both inside and out. Very good food. The buffet selections were too spicy for my wife's taste, but fine for me. (2001, 2003, 2006)

Nawab Indian Cuisine, 204 Monticello Avenue, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185, (757) 565-3200

Average-size dining room, in a small strip mall. Very nice decor. The food was okay, but way too mild for my taste. The blandest mulligatawny soup I've ever tasted. (2003, 2010)

Gaylord's India Restaurant, 1 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, California 94111, (415) 397-7775

Average setting, average food. (2004)

Aditi India Kitchen, Food Court, Union Station, Washington, D.C., (202) 682-0304

Pretty good food for a food court, although some of the sauces are a bit on the oily side. You might have trouble finding a place to sit at lunchtime during the summer. (2003-2006)

Royal Khyber, 1621 W. Sunflower Ave. #D53, Santa Ana, California 92704, (714) 436-1010

Very nice decor, but the food was way too mild. The mint chutney had no kick at all, and the raita was one of the blandest I've ever had. But the rice was pleasantly unusual a little coconut, etc. (2004)

Mother India Cuisine, 688 Baker Street, Suite 8, Costa Mesa, California 92626, (714) 668-9661.

I'm starting to wonder about Orange County! This restaurant was another disappointment. A very small lunch buffet, with aluminum foil over each selection. The spinach was a uniform green mush, the vegetable khorma was too runny, and the raita seemed to be going bad. But the zucchini was pretty good. (2009)

Not Worth the Trip

I'm fairly easy to please, so it's pretty hard for a restaurant to get on this list.

Raja's Indian Cuisine, 33 NE Second Avenue, Miami, Florida 33132, (305) 539-9551

A real hole-in-the-wall in a very busy, pedestrian-oriented, somewhat touristy area. The food is presented cafeteria-style, with six or seven selections. The cook was so stingy with the spices that it barely tasted like Indian food. (2003)

Medina Kabob, 2780 Metro Plaza, Woodbridge, Virginia 22192

Tiny cafeteria-style service, with very limited selection. Barely tastes like Indian food. (2003?)

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This page was last updated on October 10, 2010.