With three food trucks and a brick-and-mortar locale, CurryUpNow dishes up the street fare of India with creatively presented, colorful dishes. The restaurant menu comprises traditional street fare and creative takes on classics. Chefs turn the fillings of the deconstructed samosa—a popular original dish—inside out before topping it with garbanzo-bean curry and chutney-tamarind sauce to be scooped up by four mini samosas. They craft fusion dishes, folding chicken tikka masala made with 100 percent organic white chicken into burritos, and piling two- and three-item thali platters with curried eats. The menu's offerings include vegan options, and most can be made with a choice of chicken, ground halal beef or vegetarian options: paneer—a traditional farmers' cheese—and aloo, or potatoes. The entire repertoire is medium spiced, and brave-tongued people can request it spicy, or kick it up all the way to Desi hot, which infuses dishes with ghost peppers, habanero, and volcano tears.
Michelin-Starred Restaurant | California-Indian Fusion | Located in a Victorian House | Small-Batch Wines | Artistic Presentations
What to Drink: The wine list spotlights small producers from around the globe. One of those producers is the restaurant’s co-owner Shoshana Wolff, who helps her dad run Wolff & Father wines in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
While You’re Waiting: Feast your eyes on the vintage surroundings. The restaurant is located in a Victorian house built in 1906, and each of its three dining rooms is decorated with vibrant touches such as bright turquoise walls, abstract art, and glittering chandeliers.
The Chef: Sachin Chopra draws on his Indian heritage and French training while cooking his eclectic cuisine, which he doesn’t consider limited to one global style. All Spice is his first restaurant, making its Michelin star all the more impressive.
Chaat: savory Indian snack food made of potatoes, fried bread, and a spice medley that typically includes dried mango powder and cumin seeds.
Madras: a spicy curry that’s red in color due to a heavy dose of chili powder.
Bombay Garden's ties to authentic Indian cuisine run deep. Originally born in the small Indian town of Khanoor, owner Balkar Tamber grew up learning how to cook alongside his mother. That knowledge especially came in handy when he embarked on his first professional culinary foray, a roadside eatery in the Punjab region of India. Once he immigrated to the US in 1990, he brought along more than a handful of those family recipes and opened his first Bombay Garden restaurant fueled by a deep love for the rich and diverse culinary traditions of his homeland.
The menu features a selection of iconic Indian dishes from virtually every corner of India. On one page of the menu, delicate crepe-like dosas made from fermented lentil and rice flour evoke the flavors of India’s southern regions. And when it comes to northern Indian recipes, the chefs bake skewers of yogurt-marinated chicken and other meats in a traditional tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven heated by a well-trained dragon. The same blends of flavorful spices that perk up Balkar’s chicken, lamb, and seafood dishes also appear throughout the restaurant's vegetarian entrées: homemade cottage cheese and green peas meld in a spiced gravy sauce and split lentils benefit from the chefs’ one-two punch of garlic and ginger.
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.
Every day, the aroma of smoky spices wafts from the imported, wood-fired tandoor ovens at Tandoori Oven’s locations. To a soundtrack of upbeat techno, reggae, and bhangra music imported from UK clubs, servers deliver plates of lamb biryani loaded with basmati rice, bell peppers, cashews, and secret spices alongside mango lassis blended with housemade yogurt. The healthful signature wrap is stuffed with chicken or lamb that’s been marinated for 24 hours in yogurt and spices and then baked in the tandoor oven and wrapped in soft naan with mint chutney and tamarind. Local athletes dine at Tandoori Oven, a sponsor of the TRIbe Triathlon Club, after workouts for meals made to order with lean meats and served in participation trophies.
Mantra's menu infuses modern Indian cuisine with fresh California influences and a bounty of vegetarian fare, resulting in a cast of familiar favorites alongside newfangled flavors. Start with a small plate of scallops marinated in peppercorn and fennel ($12), the vegetarian grape-leaf-wrapped goat cheese ($8), or, for a bright beginning, the cinnamon-stick lamb "lollipops" ($10). Classics such as the chicken tikka masala ($17) take their esteemed place among original entree creations including the chili-marinated pan-roasted sablefish ($22), served over tomato-basil biryani, asparagus, and mozzarella and drizzled with a cardamom and peanut-infused red-curry sauce, or the Rajasthani duck ($22), rubbed with red chili and served with braised Napa cabbage and shiitake mushrooms. The cinnamon-and-clove-marinated lamb chops "Vinhaleaux" ($22) reforms renegade shepherds, while the paneer "ravioli" ($19), which folds cauliflower, paneer, and cumin into a puff-pastry envelope, pleases vegetarians.