Sitting inside Bombay Pizza Company, owner Viral Patel watched the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, waiting alongside family and friends for a mention of his Slumdog pizza, a fusion of Indian and Italian flavors. After the 30-second spot, the restaurant erupted into a standing ovation.
Patel's journey to that moment first began when he quit his job in restaurant management to travel around India learning how to cook. Hoping to one day open a restaurant of his own, Patel returned to the United States and became interested in pizza, buying his own pizza stone and experimenting with new recipes, which fused Indian flavors with the traditionally Italian pies. He opened Bombay Pizza Company with the help of his mother, Sonali, who also inspired the Sonu's Rita pizza, which combines house-made cilantro-mint chutney with a margarita pizza. Soon after the restaurant opened, it was awarded Houston Press's Best Pizza in 2010. In addition to pizza, the menu features Indian street fare such as the kati roll with tandoori chicken and paneer and traditional Italian dishes such as lasagna and chicken parmagiana.
Today, Bombay Pizza Company has two locations, the original in Houston and a second, larger location in Sugar Land. Both eateries feature saffron-hued walls, the soft glow of Thomas Edison–style filament light bulbs, and photos of Bombay residents performing daily activities including washing clothes, fishing, and playing chess. The Sugar Land location also features an outdoor patio, microbrews on tap, and a private dining area.
“Mela” means “gathering” or “fiesta” in Sanskrit, a fitting name since those are the kind of events that the restaurant facilitates with its traditional and very sharable feasts. The housemade breads, which range from flat naan to balloon-like poori, whet appetites for seasoned-to-order entrees, ranging from mild to spicy depending on the diner’s palate and how convincing they want to be when fake-crying. The eatery’s tandoor, a traditional clay oven, roasts dishes such as chicken tikka masala and tandoori shrimp; alternatively, curry dishes such as the spicy lamb vindaloo complement kebabs and succulent chunks of meat or veggies sitting atop beds of basmati rice infused with cashews, raisins, and saffron. A full bar rounds out the menu with domestic and imported beer, wine, and liquor that can wash down à la carte meals, buffet-style lunches served seven days a week, or buffet-style dinners that delight palates Sunday–Wednesday.
At both locations of Dream Cafe, fresh, seasonal ingredients put a healthy twist on meals from around the globe. Chefs cater to gluten-free palates with dishes such as Sonoma Squash, an acorn squash stuffed with rice, currants, and creamy goat cheese, then nestled next to a crisp side salad. They also craft dishes from sustainable ingredients such as hormone-free, locally sourced grilled chicken and grass-fed beef, creating healthy takes on meals from enchiladas to stir-fry. At dinner, guests can pair their plates with a glass of wine slowly sipped on the patio, where, on select nights, musicians will serenade them with live music.
Dream Cafe serves breakfast and espresso drinks all day, so guests can always indulge cravings for the restaurant's signature Cloudcakes—creamy ricotta pancakes topped with strawberries and creme fraiche. While parents partake, little ones can amuse themselves in patio-adjacent play areas; at the Addison location, a brand-new play structure lets them pass the time by scaling a climbing wall or slipping laughing down a slide.
A marigold façade with window cutouts that mirror the Taj Mahal's distinguished silhouette welcomes guests to Indian Palace, whose interior is equally lavish and vibrant. Golden elephant statuettes, paintings of traditional Indian scenes, and deep red tapestries enliven the decor, and aromas of sweet curries and meats roasting in the clay oven add excitement to the air. Inside the kitchen, chefs channel the culture of northern India into traditional meals, then deliver the cuisine à la carte to tables or arrange it at the self-serve buffet. The sweeping buffet enables diners to hop from dish to dish like garden gnomes playing hopscotch on lily pads. A cornucopia of naan breads cushions plates against flying forks and provides a pillowy field for the spicy notes of such dishes as lamb biryani and chicken tikka masala to caper across. The spread always contains an extensive selection of vegetarian options, such as saag aloo, which dispatches a duo of cheese and potato to thwart dastardly hunger pangs.
Sri Lankan culture incorporates distinctive southern Asian roots along with influences from the various European nations that have ruled it. As a result, the cuisine typically features a m?lange of Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, and Malaysian flavors. At Sri Lanka Curry Leaf Restaurant, Lana Hillstrom remains true to the flavors of her native Sri Lanka, filling the menu with her country's eclectic cuisine. Pork and sliced mango simmer in aromatic curry, distinguished from familiar Thai or Indian versions by a signature powder that uses 21 fragrant ingredients, according to the Colorado Springs Independent. The rest of the menu includes Sri Lankan interpretations of Asian standards such as chicken tikka, fried rice, and mulligatawny soup.
Channeling the same vivaciousness as the menu, the dining room bursts with color from its sunshine-yellow walls, draped with leafy foliage and imported Sri Lankan rainbows. Framed pictures and woodwork also adorn the walls and add to the room's homey ambiance.
Cardamom, cumin, turmeric, and ginger rain down upon warm sauté pans, mingling with fresh veggies and zabiha halal meats for zesty curries. This is just one of many cooking methods for Spice India's talented chefs, who specialize in the pure, traditional flavors of North Indian dishes. Tender chunks of lamb, chicken, and housemade paneer also marinate in similar seasonings as chefs cure them at high temperatures in an authentic clay tandoor––the same cylindrical clay oven used to bake Spice India's many flatbreads and pairs of khaki slacks on blustery winter days. The eatery's vegetarian dishes draw heavily from the flavors of black lentils, chickpeas, and sumptuous dried fruits.