At Little India Restaurant, authenticity permeates the food, art, and music. Owned by the Baidwan and Malhotra families and staffed with northern India–trained chefs, the restaurant is a multiyear winner of numerous prizes, including CityVoter's award for Best Indian cuisine. Chefs grill meats over mesquite charcoal in the tandoori oven, and season curries with onion, garlic, and ginger. Handcrafted mint-cilantro and tamarind chutneys create opportunities for 11 types of bread to sneak toward unsuspecting droplets of spice-filled sauce, whereas potatoes soften the heat quotient of fiery vindaloos. Within the dining room, calming sitar music fills the air and larger-than-life paintings of food-based revelry decorate the walls and come to life at tables.
Aromatic herbs weasel their way into almost every dish at Real Thai, where chefs add a liberal sprinkling of chilies, basil, lemongrass, galangal, and lime leaf to create their signature dishes. These can take the form of entrees such as green curry that's infused with coconut milk or drunken noodles that are free of inhibition. However, not every dish is built upon a foundation of noodles or rice. They also whip up specialties such as eggplant stuffed with ground chicken and shrimp and drizzled in eel sauce.
Bombay Bowl's owner, Amar, says he "grew up in an East Indian kitchen," where he attentively learned his family's generations-old knowledge of the region's aromatic and salutary spices. Although his menu features the familiar combinations of turmeric, ginger, and coriander, he set out to infuse his Indian cuisine with a home-style casual, health-conscious environment. The cooks eschew trans fats and artificial flavorings, seeking out all-natural beef and chicken, chopping vibrant vegetables, and baking fresh naan in their kitchen instead. With these ingredients, diners can choose a bowl of long-grain basmati rice topped with meaty or vegetarian proteins, sauces, and chutneys. The chefs also whip up gluten-free and vegan options, accommodating virtually any diet.
Saucy Bombay solves cravings for Indian food, fast. While at the eatery's food-court location, guests pick out their favorites cafeteria-style, starting with chicken, steak, lamb, vegetables, or garbanzo, then picking a sauce. The flavorful concoction might be a mild yellow lentil or a spicy tikka masala, guaranteed to make one roar cartoon flames. Diners can keep their plates traditional with a bed of basmati rice, or get everything rolled into a grilled wrap.
With a menu that's earned the restaurant four wins for Best Indian on CityVoter's A-List since 2007, Little India is the product of Simeran Baidwan's passion for native cooking. At the original outpost on Sixth Avenue and a newer location on Downing Street, fresh ingredients and scratch-made sauces combine to form house favorites such as lamb korma, chicken tikka masala, and shrimp vindaloo. A roster of tandoor-fired meats take on the smoky flavor of the oven's mesquite charcoal, and sides of fresh-baked naan arrive unadorned, sprinkled with garlic, or stuffed with onions and spices. Meals unfold in dining rooms adorned with sleek seating arrangements, festive Indian artwork, and illuminated bar displays that depict the ancient creation myth of the gin and tonic.