Voted top five in the Best Indian category of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 CityVoter awards, Laxmi's Indian Grille serves a range of dishes?from spicy meats to subtle vegetable stews?designed to please all palates. A perfume of fresh ginger, rose water, and house-made cottage cheese drifts from the bustling kitchen out into the dining room of the Main Street location, where vibrant paintings provide an elegant contrast to walls of rustic exposed stone. At both Main Street and the newly minted Tilden Street eatery, a clay tandoor oven is kept aflame throughout the day, enabling chefs to bake breads, meats, and underripe bananas to a golden patina.
Every morning at Jazmin Restaurant, chefs load morsels of freshly kneaded naan dough into the tandoor oven. The aroma of baking bread soon fills the dining room, mingling with the heady scents of curry and cumin that waft from grills sizzling with halal chicken and lamb. Chefs also flaunt seven vegetarian entrees that swap meat for lighter ingredients such as homemade cheese and lentils. To contrast the savory dishes, dining companions can share traditional Indian desserts of mango ice cream and mango custard, which stand as evidence of the mango’s worth beyond its inclusion in fruit hats.
Tendrils of smoke curl slowly up from the ornate waterpipes at Eclipse Hookah Lounge, filling the air with the sweet smell of flavored tobacco. Sourced from the shisha experts at Starbuzz and Al Fakher, the tobacco is the cornerstone of the lounge's laid-back vibe, but the experience goes far beyond a little smoke. Here, overstuffed couches cast in the invitingly dim light of lantern-style wall sconces invite guests to settle in. Although the lounge is a suitable spot for a night of conversation, there are other distractions available; two 60" televisions flicker with lively highlights, and a professional audio system often fills the room with the chilled-out sounds from around the world. Guests can also take advantage of the lounge's affiliation with Kabobeesh, ordering beef tikkah roll sandwiches or chicken gyros from the restaurant ranked number 11 on Forbes magazine's Top 20 Best Eats for the Buck in America list.
On a typical evening in the kitchen of Bombay Grill, chefs can be found marinating lamb in coconut vinegar for vindaloo, simmering filets of seasonal fish in curry sauce, and stuffing potatoes with house-made cheese for vegetarian dum aloo. Fresh shrimp and tender spring chicken bake in a tandoor oven, and green tea leaves, raisins, pistachios, and other ingredients brew together for flavorful chai tea.
Executive chef and owner Bharat Luthra named his restaurant Khajuraho after a town in Madhya Pradesh, India—a town famous for a series of Hindu and Jain temples filled with erotic monuments. Like those iconic statues, the sights, smells, and tastes of Luthra’s Indian cuisine create a vivid statement in support of sensuality and the enjoyment of life. His restaurant's elegant white-clothed tables, great enough in number to seat up to 120, stage feasts fit for mild to spicy palates and carnivorous to vegetarian appetites. Luthra bakes succulent marinated chicken inside a tandoori clay oven, spikes fresh seafood with garlic and ginger, and keeps vegetable balls from rolling off the plate with a smooth cream sauce and repurposed bowling-alley bumpers.
At 401 Nirvana, owner Nabin Chhantyal and chef Jagmeet Singh viewing dining differently, depending on the time of day. For breakfast and lunch, the pair turns out distinctive diner fare ranging from fluffy omelets to flavorful wraps and deli sandwiches. When the sun sets, they trade in their spatulas and slicers to take a distinctly modern approach to Indian cuisine. It's here where Chef Singh has transformed once-simple recipes into artistic, minimalist compositions, and set dishes on fire for a truly dramatic presentation. He's even created edible terrariums filled with fresh produce and air harvested from a local garden. Though the menu sometimes features these whimsical creations, it's always anchored by contemporary interpretations of dishes such as tandoori chicken, lamb kebabs, and vegetarian masala, many of which are grilled in an authentic clay oven. A handful of American diner-style plates, such as hotcakes, turkey burgers, and sandwiches stuffed with spiced mahi mahi or herb-marinated chicken, round out the menu at breakfast and lunchtime. The dining room at 401 Nirvana also complements the distinctly modern cuisine: a warm color scheme surrounds rough wooden tables and benches with stained-glass partitions.