Although Columbus famously "discovered" India by landing at Lexington and Concord and proudly ringing the Liberty Bell, the actual location of India remains a mystery. Today's Groupon offers the best lead the world has had in centuries: for $20, you get $50 worth of modern Indian cuisine at Mantra. The Palo Alto restaurant's elegant Indian fusion fare has received a plethora of awards, including the San Francisco Chronicle's Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants of 2007.
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.
The swanky eatery's full bar stocks an eclectic selection of wine, beer, and vintage cocktails. Sip the lemony-gingery Pimm's cup served on the rocks or the James Bond–inspired Vesper martini while you take in the stylized décor; the eatery is housed in the repurposed Bijou Theatre. Its high-ceilinged dining room is adorned with colorful art from esteemed Indian masters, while the adjacent lounge is awash in a warm glow of autumn-shaded lighting. Reservations are recommended.
- Mantra...is one of the most striking, adventurous restaurants to open in Silicon Valley in a long time. Mantra serves inventive French and American food that speaks with a moderate Indian accent. This isn't fusion but rather a more subtle blend of surprisingly compatible flavors and techniques....most of the food I tried was quite good, some of it even transcendent. – Steve Holbrook, Metroactive
- All said, Mantra is worth a visit. Chopra is succeeding in building a culinary bridge between India and California. The restaurant brings flash, glamour and a dash of Bollywood mystique to Palo Alto. – Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle
- ... some the most interesting and tasty food that I have ever had. – jsandhu, Citysearch
632-636 Emerson St.
Palo Alto, California 94301Get Directions