Lola is looking - for Indian in Cambridge
Okay, so I have been to most of the Indian places in Harvard Square - the Bombay Club, Cafe of India, others - but I am wondering - what is the concensus on who serves the BEST Indian in the Square - it is difficult for me to judge because, for instance, Bombay Club has a great mint laasi, but is lackluster in their desserts. I know that there must be a definitive answer.
The best Indian in Harvard Square starts at the T stop: take the bus to Allston and go to Rangoli, it's worth the trip. Great South Indian selections (served by blue-eyed North Indians :) idli, sambar, dosa, and even a mean pav baji too (sorry for spellings. that's an Indian sloppy joe) I like the zippy freshness of stuff they serve, actual cilantro visible rather than brown glop.
Also good is a trip to Central Square to that 2nd floor place upstairs from Central Kitchen (which is also good) across from the intersection of Pearl St. It's good old standard Indian, nicely prepared, reliable stuff like chicken tikka masala. But right on Pearl is Rangzen, a Tibetan place that's much more unusual. They use curry.
Except for a few old standbys, the food in Harvard Square is spotty, and the Indian is no exception. I've had some ok meals at the Indian place on... is it Charles? next to the parking garage, facing the JFK school. But Narita sushi (good value, nice lunch specials) next door in the basement is so much better (by Harvard Sq. standards) that I'd always change my mind at the last minute and go there.
The Indian place on the left heading up Brattle out of the square (just past Crate and Barrel) has some mildly interesting highly ornate metal chairs. The food is tasty but of the "every sauce is overly thick and creamy" variety and I remember it being a bit expensive/skimpy. Notice that I fixate more on the chairs. It's not bad.
Heck, do yourself a favor and shoot over to First St. and get Afghani food at Helmand. it's similar to Indian but less chopped up. Their lamb is great. Veggies that come with meat dishes are incredible. Veggie choices themselves less interesting. (Weird, huh.) And it's run by Hamid Karzai's family! I think I have that right. Somebody famous in Afghanistan at the moment.
I give a slight edge to Tanjore. Never been disappointed there. High quality ingredients deftly prepared. Great Nan. Although, portions are not enormous.
Two other ideas --
Punjabi Dhaba in Inman square makes a FINE chicken curry with a kick, and the vegetarian plate is one of the best deals around... various veggie treats, nan bread and rice for around $6.
Diva in Davis Square -- only if you take out since the service is atrocious. The standards (chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken) are very good. I feel that the quality of ingredients is a bit better than your run of the mill Indian joint.
India Castle on Mass Ave, closer to Central than Harvard, has been our favorite of late. Nice atmosphere, very attentive waitstaff, and good food with generous portions. Big points for the delicious peshawari naan, and some seriously large beers in chilled mugs.