Helmed by brothers Sandeep and Jagdeep Kambo, Royal India represents the best of two worlds—fine dining and homecooked cuisine. Made-to-order naan, mint chutney, and a decadent tomato tikka masala sauce—which Fodor's summed up in one word: "smoky"—all come from mother Kambo, as do the rest of the menu's authentic Indian specialties and the kitchen's heirloom spoon. Paired with the Market Street location's 125-seat dining room and dazzling indoor waterfall, and it's no wonder Royal India's cuisine has nabbed a top-five ranking in the Best Indian category of San Diego A-List for five years running. What’s more, the spot features an ornate, hand-carved bar, where mixologists craft refreshing Indian mojitos and mango martinis—drinks that rival the kitchen's decadent desserts of mango mousse and spiced rice pudding.
Another glittering facet of the Monsoon Group helmed by brother-and-sister team Rakesh and Ashley Popat, Bombay Exotic Cuisine of India delivers the same opulent, glowing atmosphere and authentic cuisine that have dazzled diners at sister restaurants Monsoon and Masala. Glistening chandeliers illuminate the 7,500-square-foot space, which provides an avenue for parties of up to 300 guests, and has hosted a number of corporate clients including Wells Fargo and Johnson & Johnson. Inside the dining room, a tranquil waterfall serves as an ethereal room divider and squirt-gun refilling station, as romantic amber light softly rains down from the ceiling to settle upon crisp white tablecloths.
The name Annapurna, which means to be filled completely with food in Sanskrit, hints at a sprawling buffet and busy kitchen. Jumbo shrimp and boneless chicken marinated in a spicy yogurt cook inside a traditional Indian clay oven, and bite-sized bits of lamb simmer in a curry infused with Andhra spices and herbs. Chefs simmer milk, crafting it into thick paneer cheese, which pairs with a spiced gravy to fill out the range of vegetarian items. The scents of cardamom, cumin, chili, and pickled mangos fill the air. At the lunch buffet, heated pans hold mounds of rice, creamy sauces, and frozen popsicles that won’t give up information.
The flavors of South Asia sing at Indian Express, where Moghlai meals incorporate flavors from all over the region. In addition to kebabs and curries, chefs transform ingredients?spices, fresh produce, and organic halal meat?into satisfying, internationally-informed meals. Freshness is a common theme among lunches and dinners, which include authentic Indian dishes, vegetarian and meat curries, and biryani. Tandoori kebabs combine the flavors of a traditional clay oven along with the easy-to-throw, aerodynamics nature of a kebab.
Gourmet India's cuisine sates bellies with fresh meats, ripe vegetables, and astounding sauces spiced flawlessly. The restaurant's friendly staff makes all diners feel at home and excited for the palpable stomach pampering ahead. The relaxed, intimate dining room shares the duty with outdoor seating that illuminates the kitchen's bright creations with all-natural sunlight.
Copper Chimney, a food truck turned restaurant, detonates salivary glands with authentic South Indian-Hyderabadi fast food. Traditional snacks, such as samosas ($2.99 for two) and idli—rice cakes served with chutney ($3.49)—prepare appetites for more sizeable savories, including crispy crepe blankets known as dosas ($3.99–$7.99), served in masala, egg, and onion-masala flavors. Vegetarian entrees, such as ginger vegetables ($5.99), prevent non-meat-eaters from grazing in nearby parks, and diners seeking meatier options find protein-packed comfort in the chicken Hyderabadi biryani, served with gravy and the spicy-cooling combo of chili and raita ($6.99). Customers who prefer to dabble in a variety of dishes can explore Copper Chimney's buffet ($6.49), which is stocked with more exotic spices than Christopher Columbus's fanny pack.