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What is the best Indian restaurant in NYC

What is the best Indian food in NYC - something authentic.

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  1. Ah, there you go asking two questions in one. I think Devi is clearly, far and away the best. I'll leave it to others to tell me it's not authentic.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Wilfrid

      try earthen oven on w72 and columbus. it just opened two months ago. it might not be the best (I'm definitely not an indian food expert) but the food is very, very good AND they are nice. i just wish it were less expensive as i live right there and would like to go very often. check out the review on menupages.com.

      i haven't tried devi yet but i found dawat, sitar and mitali (there are two, i think . the good one is at E 6th (bet 1st and 2nd) to be really great. for some strange reason, i also like royal kabab on w103 and brdwy. it's one of the better ones near columbia. i'm curious to see what the others say but it doesn't come close to the others.

      1. re: nativeNYer

        I like Earthen Oven, but oddly, my best experience was with takeout. I ordered a meat tandoori dish--we were having a dinner with 5 or 6 people, a black dal, a vegetable dish, and rice and breads, and the total was about $60. It was a lot of food for that price, and it was good. when we ate in it wasn't so great.

        A related restaurant is Indus Valley, up at Broadway and 100th. Same owners. Indus Valley was good when we ate there, but takeout was a complete bust--the birianis were hot (who makes really, really spicy vegetable biriani?) and mushy, a no-no for sub-Continental rice. It tasted like a Mexican refried dish.

        1. re: nativeNYer

          I haven't been to Dawat in years. I believe Madhur Jeffrey famed cookbook author was the owner and/or chef.

          The last Indian food I ate was at Salaam Bombay and before that a place my friend liked on 6th in the EV, the just okay place on Fulton Street downtown, two restaurants near my old office on 45th/6th Avenue and Tabla when it first opened ages ago. I need to try some of these places.

        2. re: Wilfrid

          Based on my one solitary experience at Devi, I can't belive you would call it "far and away the best". I'm from SF and my and wife and I had the tasting menu at Devi. I though it was a total sham. About $65/person with dishes like a single tandoori prawn with fried okra, a minuscule portion of bhel puri, a small piece of tandoori lamb with 1 piece of gobi manchurian (which could've been good if I had enough to actually gauge). I'm used to small portions on tasting menus at high end restaurants, but usually the food is uniquely prepared and uses higher end ingredients. This was essentially basic Indian food broken up into small courses. The breads served with the courses were also very standard.

          The space is nice, much better than your average Indian restaurant, probably because the owner and co-chef was originally in the fashion industry before he started cooking. His restaurant in Delhi is beautifully modern and really stands out in delhi, but I refused to go after my disappointing trip to devi.

          The bread pudding was really good, maybe the best dessert I've ever had at an Indian restaurant.

          Is the trick, perhaps, to not do the tasting menu and order a la carte? And if so, which dishes are the spectacular?

          Next time in NYC we will definetly hit up Tabla, Floyd Cardoz helped create a menu for a restaurant out here near SF and it is truly unique.

        3. Tamarind is pretty close to the top for high end Indian. For the most authentic, you might want to look on the Outer Borough boards

          1. I have to agree with Devi. I had a virtually transcendental meal there the last time. Tamarind is quite good, but haven't had the *wow* thing there.

            Best one on 6th street is Banjara, but it doesn't compare to the two mentioned above. On ambience alone it rates lower.

            GL with your search....

            1. I really like Devi and also Brick Lane Curry House. I always enjoyed Banjara too, but I haven't been in a very long time. I didn't really care for Tamarind.

              1. i personally like saravannas though its all veg and its only south indian. Thali plates, dosa, idly, chole batura are all really good...when i lived in singapore i used to eat at a place called komala vilas which was very similar that was all tamil people who worked in singapore (though komala was better than saravannas and also way more rundown and crappy looking), maybe i like it so much b/c it reminds me of that plce

                2 Replies
                1. re: Lau

                  Saravannas is good for South Indian, as is Chennai Garden around the corner. You won't miss the meat at all, I think. (Even avowed carnivores like it.) Sukhadia's is my favorite place to go for Indian sweets and a cheap lunch (usually chaat for me, but their buffet is shockingly good for a buffet).

                  If you like tandoori style food, Earthen Oven is, as NativeNYer pointed out, good. I personally find it a bit too meat heavy and more unidimensionally flavored than good South Indian.

                  1. re: Lau

                    Funny, I have never been to Chennai Gardens although I was addicted to a place close by called Tiffin Wallah that is also indian vegetarian. I went there about once a week for 2 years. Food amazing and very original...not the stuff you get everwhere else, although the sauces, raita, coriander chutney, etc. were lacking. Then about a month ago I went one day and the food was very so-so, bland and not unusual. So, I chalked it up to a bad day. Sadly to say I have been back twice since and had the same experience. So, I will start checking some of these other places out.

                    Tiffin Wallah
                    127 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016

                    Chennai Garden
                    129 E 27th St, New York, NY 10016

                  2. I like Yuva on 58th st, on that upscale curry row. I don't know if its the best, but its quite good, and worth the money.

                    1. Definitely Tamarind. Devi is lovely too, though.

                      1. I agree with Tamarind. We've been going there for couple of years now and the food is consistently great, fresh and service is knowledgeable and excellent. Highly recomment.

                        I've heart good reviews about Earthen Oven too ( apparently it was opened by a chef from Tamarind).

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: lilpetunia

                          'tis true. the chef at earthen oven was from tamarind . if you walk by, there are fliers posted to the windows with a full description of the chef. i've been there twice - 1st time: chick marsala - amazing. 2nd time: i was adventurous b/c the food was so good the first time and tried another chick dish which was outstanding. they are also really nice there and trying hard to please. poori is also great.

                          1. re: nativeNYer

                            I assume you mean chicken tikki masala? Chicken marsala is Sicilian, if I'm not mistaken.

                        2. Tamarind is the best. No Doubt.

                          3 Replies
                            1. re: rjm

                              I have to respectfully disagree. I just had it again tonight, actually. It's not terrible, but it's far from being the best. Another place highly rated on Zagat called Indus Valley is equally unremarkable.

                              1. re: cimui

                                i couldn't agree with you more about both, cimui. actually, indus valley and earthen oven have the same owners but, obviously, a different chef. many things seem to be similar with the exception of the chicken masala which is vastly different in each place. for those of you who have been reading my posts re earthen oven, i'm sure it will come as no surprise to hear that i feel that the dish is far better at earthen oven. i've never really understood the appeal for tamarind.

                            2. had a great dinner the other night on 6th st at Angon. service is a little slow but the food was fresh and spicey. we loved it. also go to Tamarind for a more polished staff and beautiful room, but i love the food at both.

                              1. I would say that Saravanaas wins for both best South Indian & most authentic Indian in NY (I traveled in South India 3 times). So far Devi is the best overall Indian food I've had in NY. It's not traditional, but I think food can be both untraditional and authentic.


                                1. I am a Tabla girl - for the less traditonal route...and I do agree it can be both non-traditional and authentic at the same time.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: fortyweeks

                                    I agree. I love Tabla for fusion (or if you prefer not to be euphemistic, inauthentic) Indian. I really like their crab cakes!

                                    1. re: cimui

                                      I take all my friends who are afraid of indian food to Tabla it is agreat intro to the flavors of India.
                                      Bread Bar is nice if you enjoy anything but the normal indian restaurant fare. Two dishes that I love that are on the menu a Beef stirfy with coconut and black pepper and a Roast Baby Goat wraped in a banana leaf.

                                      1. re: Fantaleo

                                        I was always a big fan of Tabla - thought the flavors were very subtle and sophisticated - unfortunately, went there last night, the menu has changed to much more traditional Indian, and it was not nearly as good as any number of restaurants on 6th Street, or Earthen Oven, and triple the price. Danny Meyer should consider cutting them loose.

                                        1. re: aimeezing1

                                          This is a very damning condemnation:

                                          "it was not nearly as good as any number of restaurants on 6th Street"

                                          In other words, it totally sucks?

                                          1. re: aimeezing1

                                            The dishes we had there two nights ago were anything but "traditional Indian". For the quality of food, along with the service and ambience, I felt I got a bargain.

                                      1. re: LFeinberg

                                        Took advice from a few of you and ordered Banjara. That was one of the worst meals I have ate! No taste in any dish. I think I could get better if the diner were to have Indian food. Just thought you should all know

                                        97 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                      2. I have very much enjoyed both the Tabla Bread Bar, and Vatan's (an especially different and fun experience)

                                        1. Tamarind for me..though Devi is very, very good

                                          1. I just wish I could find a place like you used to find in London. Simply decorated, sitar music playing, a burnishing beef Madras (redolent of red pepper) or a lamb Vindaloo would be proffered with generous amounts of mango chutney (no extra charge!), some raita, garlic naan. The bill would be so fair, you'd leave a huge tip, because they were so reasonable and friendly. Nowadays one is so incensed by what is charged for a basic curry, tipping beyond the minimum seems kind of ridiculous. You do the math and realize you paid mostly for the lease and the decor.

                                            1. I know this is the Manhattan board, but the question was "in NYC" and I am surprised nobody has pointed our friend to Queens, which is in NYC. I personally like the Jackson Diner, although I don't get there very often and I have heard it's not what it once was. Any others?

                                              1. CHOLA: 232 E 58th Street. Interior leaves a little to be desired, but the service was very attentive and the food was delicious. The price was right. Appetizers ranged $5-10, entrees $12-25. No website. What to order when you go: 'Ragara' appetizer (potato, chickpea, coriander, chutney, yogurt) was outrageous for $8. Entree: 'Lamb Malabar' was succulent and really tasty for $19; 'Eggplant Kothmeera' was spicy and memorable for $15. Order a special rice (my fave 'lemon rice' $8) to make the meal unforgettable. 'Garlic Nan'=yum! I considered Dawat since it was nearby and other replies mentioned it, but it was a tad more fancy and the menu was not as extensive.

                                                1. My wife is Tamil. I've been to India a couple of times. My mother-in-law cooks a mean dosa.

                                                  Whenever family or friends come to visit we take them to Chola. It has a nice mix of North and South Indian items, veg and non-veg. The buffet on the weekends is nice too. In addition to the steam table items the bring you nan, dosa, etc. For less formal occasions we like Tiffin Wallah and Chennai Garden for South Indian veggie food. Both of those are in curry hill.

                                                  Tamarind? We went there over five years ago and have not been inspired to return. The food was incredibly bland. No heat. Not authentic at all.

                                                  1. I love Chola....every time i've eaten there the food has been outstanding. everything's always fresh and refined-tasting.

                                                    1. surprised no one has mentioned Panna II yet! =)
                                                      http://www.panna2.com/ it's far from the best, but certainly worth the experience.

                                                      1. I have been eating Indian food for 60 years (no big deal; was born in India), and have to say I have not found any other New York restaurant to equal Tamarind (Bukhara Grill on East 49th Street with somewhat different cuisine has great kebabs, though) for Mughlai food of North India.

                                                        Indian food is not about how spicy it is; it is about the blend and medley of spices. For those who crave high levels of chili peppers, there are hundreds of undistinguished third-rate Indian restaurants to cater to your tastes for very little money, many of them concentrated in lower Manhattan. No Indian of my acquaintance would frequent these places, though.

                                                        So if great Indian food of some subtlety and finesse (with a very pleasant dining room and very good service, although at somewhat higher prices) is what you want, head for Tamarind. For OK food at OK prices, try places like Dawat and its neighbors on East 58th Street. If chili firepower is what you want, head for the Lower East Side (or save your money and buy a bottle of Tabasco sauce instead and stay at home) or any of the other neighborhood Indians.

                                                        41 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

                                                        Bukhara Grill
                                                        217 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                                                        210 E. 58th St., New York, NY 10022

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: Kumar_Shah

                                                          The word spice is often and confusingly used to refer to capsaicin heat. I have many Indian friends who do not care for chili peppers and I do not use "spicy" and "heat" interchangeably.

                                                          While I agree Indian food is a blend and medley of spices, a problem in many Indian restaurants of NYC is that they fail to season their food properly with said medley. I've had many conversations with chefs and owners at Dawat, Chola, Yuva Grill, etc. and they've all admitted to toning down the flavors to appeal to a western palate acclimated to bland foods. The best Indian food I've had was not searingly hot, but redolent with fragrant spices. Unfortunately, such spicing is often wasted on unappreciative palates.

                                                          As for your suggestions, I've only been to Tamarind once, but in my visit, it was very bland. I agree the kebabs at Bukhara are excellent and had wonderful meals at Bukhara before they moved. As for Dawat, they haven't cooked a good meal in over 10 years and I have eaten there many times since they first opened. Chola surpassed them and now Yuva has surpassed the formerly great Chola. The last time I was at Chola, they served rasmalai from a can.

                                                          Without a large ethnic Indian population, it is hard for a restaurant to sustain any authentic spicing and they eventually succumb to pressures to water down flavors because a) it's cheaper to use less spice b) there are customers that think Baluchi is authentic tasting.

                                                          232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                                          230 East 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                                                          210 E. 58th St., New York, NY 10022

                                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                                            Do you affirmatively recommend Yuva, or do you just consider it acceptable? I notice the note from Chef Tuhin Dutta. Former Chef at Banjara about the restaurant, at the Chow listing for the Yuva. At its best, I found the food at Banjara very tasty but overly fatty, and the service was OK to poor the times I went, such that I haven't been back for several years. Is Yuva better than that?

                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                              I would recommend Yuva for just a couple of dishes - Which are excellent and worth going there for - Raan being one, Dal Makhani being other. Even when I am in India, I visit a restaurant with specific entrees in mind, the one's they are known for, rest is forgettable.

                                                              Chola's buffet brunch still is an excellent proposition. A newcomer which I have visited once, but has promise is Cinnamon in the Little India section - Lex between 27th & 28th.

                                                              232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                                              230 East 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                Yuva is definitely worth a visit, the quality of meat is very good. My only caveat is that I've been noticing inconcistency in almost every restaurant I've been eating at. This recession has hit the food and service industry and I've noticed some corner cutting. I haven't visited Yuva in close to a year. There are simply too many great restaurants in NYC. I agree with Anil regarding their dal. They have some superb vegetarian dishes.

                                                                Nirvana has been my favorite Indian restaurant since I stopped going to Chola. My last visit to Chola was very spotty with highlights and poorly executed elements like a very soggy and bland dosa, overly salty fish fry but a stunning lamb vindaloo.

                                                                Nirvana has one of the best lunch buffets in the city, I highly recommend it and their desserts are freshly prepared with care and skill. The last time I went, they had shrimp masala and often have a fish offering which sets them a notch above other Indian buffets.

                                                                232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                                                230 East 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                                                                346 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10001

                                                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                  Thanks for the recs, anil and Pookpichu. It's interesting that Nirvana is a bit north of Curry Hill. I think I've passed it a few times. Have you gotten food to order there, as well as buffet items?

                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                    Yes I've eaten there many times both buffet and dinner items. I've taken both my Indian and Pakistani friends there and they have been consistently impressed with the vegetable and meat offerings.

                                                                    Sometimes the squid is oversalted and occasionally the spices could be kicked up a notch... but no restaurant is perfect. The quality of the ingredients they use, cleanliness and execution are superior to other Indian restaurants in Manhattan (partially because Nirvana is newer). I prefer Nirvana to Tabla, Devi and Tamarind. I've never been impressed with Danny Meyer's take on Indian as I find it lacking soul. Great Indian food is such an aromatic delight for the senses and I love a good curry or biryani. At the moment, I feel that Nirvana is the finest "all-arounder".

                                                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                      Thanks again. I'll report back if/when I try the place.