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New to Houston - desperately searching authentic Indian food

Just relocated here from LA and we are used to grabbing a curry (tikka masala, vindaloo) without much thought. We've tried Kirin and Indika (good food) but in search of the real deal.

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  1. You have to go to Himalayas at Hilcroft and sw freeway. It technically pakistani but the food is the best around in my opinion. The owner's name is Kaiser and he is super nice and accomodating. Lunch offers a good deal for the lunch plate but dinner is the time to go. Tell Kaiser to get you a nice spread put together with 4-5 different dishes. The curry dishes are great the curry fish is very good and the nan is the best in town.

    1. You'll find real deal places all over the SW Freeway & Hillcroft area, though the are going to be a totally different class of service than Indika or Kiran's. Udipi is a nice vegetarian place in that area that has excellent food, with a buffet at lunch and regular service at night.

      The place jscarbor mentioned is excellent.

      I don't think you'll be able to get tikka masala at a real deal place, since it's really British in origin, but London Sizzler is supposed to have great chicken tikka masas. But for my money, Indian Wok on 1960 has the best chicken tikka masala around.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mr_drift

        Thank you both! I will report back. What part of town is the Hillcroft area?

      2. Another vote for Himalaya. Everything I've had there has been excellent - chicken tikka masala, karhai gosht, lamb chapli, chicken karhai, chicken biryani. The Press named it Best Greasy Spoon of 2006, a fact which did not make Chef Kaiser happy. It's because of the liberal use of ghee in Pakistani cooking. You can request a less fat version.

        I posted about this about a month ago but will post the menu again:


        Dishes and prices may not be the same now.

        Hillcroft is on the SW side, crosses US 59 about 5 miles outside Loop 610. Himalaya is in a shopping center on the SW corner; the others are scattered around the neighborhood and as far as Westpark north on Hillcroft.

        1. Try Raja, a little place also on Hillcroft, in the same area other posters have mentioned. I am seldom in that part of town now, but several years ago I used to go there and get an enormous serving of curried chicken--enough for two people--for about $6.00. I imagine prices have gone up since then,though. They always had great desserts,too.

          1. You're in luck! Authentic Indian food is not in short supply (and much better than LA, IMO). Go to Highway 59 & Hillcroft. My favorites are Shiv Sagar and Sri Balaji Bhavan - both are veg and sort of south indian / gujarati. A truly gujarati place is Bhojan - in roughly the same neighborhood. Beware: the owner will force-feed you several types of bread until you burst!

            Also try the chaat truck near Bellfort & Wilcrest (I think...)

            3 Replies
            1. re: WtotheN

              Great to see a mention of Sri Balaji Bhavan. I totally agree! I'm going to try Bhojan soon. Thanks for the recommendation... several types of bread sounds very tempting.

              1. re: Jayro

                Let me know how you like Bhojan -- I have mixed feelings. On one hand, it's very authentic and the owner makes you feel more than welcome. On the other hand, weird location and I am not kidding about the force-feeding!

                1. re: WtotheN

                  My first couple of times I overate on the rotis, especially the one with the sugar cane paste filling, but I couldn't blame that on them as I learned all I have to do is wave them off if I don't want anymore. But the food is very filling and it's easy to overeat since it tastes so good. I always just skip the naan on the buffet in favor of the fresh rotis that are brought out.

                  I don't know about authenticity since it's the only Gujarati restaurant I've ever eaten in but it is good so I could care less about authenticity.

                  The lady is very nice and likes to come around to visit with every table and will answer your questions. She has thanked me for sitting on the lower level since she has trouble getting up on that raised section.

                  I haven't been in too long.


            2. Welcome to Houston --- Yes, you must definitely go to the Hilcroft area for the real deal. I also agree with everyone else here - Himalaya is excellent. My menu faves are the Chicken Handi, the Haleem, Chicken Methi, Kabob platter, Balochi Resha Gosht, and the Lamb Biryani, and Chicken Charga. The sweet Lassi drinks are also good too.

              As for vindaloo, I rather like the Khyber Grill on Kirby Dr. The Chaana Masala is okay too. I'm not really wowed by much else on their menu. I love to order the lamb vindaloo "gunpowder hot" and it is brutal ( but in a good way). My husband orders it medium-hot. Most places in the Montrose/Kirby/Rice Village areas will wimp-out on the spice and heat levels (IMO), but Khyber Grill always believes me when I say I want my vindaloo HOT.

              Good luck in your search!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Jayro

                I'm not a regular much anymore at Khyber... The restaurant is spotless and managed so well, I just find the food there,, ok. I attended a Vindaloo cooking class at Indika's last Sunday.. You want HOT,,, Vindaloo is featured on the weekday lunch menu at Indika's,, you should give it a try... For anyone interested,,, the classes are limited to ten individuals, the menu for the evening is discussed in detail in the bar area and "couples" are then assigned cooking tasks,, the making of appetizers, veggies, main course and desserts.. The Indika kitchen is filled with all the typical and atypical spices used in Indian cuisine in Houston.. No shortcuts when it comes to freshness and flavor.. Once the meals are done in the kitchen,, all the foodies sit at the dining room table and enjoy their efforts.. Great food, drink and conversation... Each class member is given a folder that contains all the written instructions on the dishes that were prepared for the evening. India Grocery on Hillcroft is the place to buy your spices. A very unique and fun experience that offers an inside view of one of the most "sense-ational" restaurants in town. Enjoy!

                516 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

                1. re: Jayro

                  Just to clarify, Himalaya is Pakistani.

                  I really like the street food from Bansuri Indian Food Corner. It's a food truck off West Bellfort and Wilcrest.

                  1. re: Jayro

                    Hi Jayro, I was googling a recipe for resha gosht and I happened to come across your post here. Can you describe the Balochi Resha Gosht at Himalaya? Resha means fibrous or stringy so I imagine it is shredded pot roast-like in texture? Is it in a red tomatoey gravy or more of a brown stewish gravy? Very spicy or medium? Thanks.

                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      Hi, sorry for the tardy reply, but perhaps you will still have a need for this info. The Balochi Resha Gosht at Himalaya is very much like an "Indian pot roast". Just imagine tender beef, some chunks still barely clinging together as a whole, mixed with shredded bits that have already pulled apart. It’s all swimming in this glorious red stew, which is so rich, sturdy and thick it cannot really be described accurately as “stew”. I would not say the version of Balochi Resha Gosht served at Himalaya is as thick or paste-like as their Haleem shredded meat dish, which I also LOVE.

                      As for the spicy heat level, that’s a tricky question. Depends on the person I guess. I would call it an aggressive low creeping up to a solid medium kick as you start digging into the dish. In my book, I would never rate this as a spicy-hot dish. However, I will say that I do like my food spicy (I’m not happy until my upper-lip forms a light sweat - LOL!). I don’t know if this helps any, but we took some out-of-town friends there, and they found the dish too spicy. I was kind of surprised since these friends have lived in many big cities across the US. But then you know, everybody is different… no worries. Luckily, they were able to finish the dish with large amounts of the sweet lassi drinks, cilantro raita, and a little help from me and husband. So basically, for them, the dish was too tasty to abandon despite the heat level they perceived. I’m glad they didn’t give up!

                      Good luck with your Balochi Resha recipe. Hope you’re happy with the results.

                      1. re: Jayro

                        Hi Jayro, Actually I have had recipe queries that remained a mystery for years and were resolved in some uncanny way or another...so you are not too late. Thanks for the info. It sounds like an interesting dish. I am going to guess that it is shin meat and that there are tomatoes in it. I'll probably be coming to Houston in a couple months and will definately stop at Himalaya to check it out. Can you recommend other items that you have liked there?

                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          Hi LuckyFatima,
                          My husband and I have almost worked our way through the entire menu at Himalaya. These are the things we find ourselves ordering again and again:
                          The Nehari is outrageously delicious (just had some last night!) as is the Balochi Resha Gosht and Chicken Karhai (Handi). Lamb Biryani is a must have. I also cannot resist the Haleem and hot fresh parathas. Also very good - Dal Fry, Karhai Gosht (Handi Gosht), Dal Gosht, Hunter's Beef Plate, The mixed kabob platter, Lahori Charga, and the Fish Masala (khushka). I usually order a sweet lassi too. Never had anything from the dessert menu because there is never any room – we are too full.

                          Have fun eating!

                          Also on Hicroft, you may also like to check out these places too:
                          The Udipi Cafe (yummy Pav Bhaji ... without the Pav - they put it on a dosa instead, but it's still tasty). The Bombay Sweet Shop has a wonderful variety of sweets/ goodies to choose from. Love their white peda, both Khoya and besan burfi, and white chum chum.

                  2. You Have to try Tandoori Nite on Hwy 6 between Beechnut and Bellaire. Its a Indian food truck that just opened up. The Chicken tikka masala, Saag Paneer and the best Chicken shish kabobs Ive ever had. This Place is the real deal.

                    1. Do any of these places serve a HOT vindaloo that's more of a meat dish? No potatoes, for example.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: aynrandgirl

                        Hi Aynrandgirl,

                        The lamb vindaloo at Khyber Grill has "meaty" chunks of lamb; no potato chunks or any other vegetable bits in sight. You have to ask for it super HOT, and let them know you are serious about your heat. They will honor your request. The stuff is painfully HOT, but IMO oh so good! Like I said before, I'm not really wowed by much else on their menu. I only order their lamb vindaloo... sometimes the Chaana Masala, which is pretty mild, but has a nice flavor.

                        I've never had the vindaloo on Indika's lunch menu. An earlier post here mentioned that is was really hot. Guess I'll have to check it out sometime.

                      2. Where are you? You must have learned by now that "Houston" is HUGE! Ridiculous, actually.
                        I live in the burbs and we have one Indian restaurant but it is very good in my humble, non-Indian opinion. If you are in Richmond (Pecan Grove), check out Bombay Grill on FM359. It is in a strip mall close to Randall's and Sonic. Only 6 or so tables but they are open 7 days, lunch and dinner. Atmosphere is typical for a small, family run restaurant in the burbs, but the food makes up for it!!!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: eve_of_destruction

                          If you're looking for Pakistani food (similar to some North Indian cooking or Mughlai cooking) try BBQ Tonite. The one in Dallas was better in my opinion, and I think they had the same owner until recently. The buffet is one of the best ones I've had (maybe because it was different?)

                          1. re: caliking

                            I never once thought that the two in Houston/Dallas had anything in common so that's good to know. The one up here is always INSANE during Ramadan, definitely cuz of the buffet.

                            1. re: air

                              They are copying the name of a well known and well loved resto in Karachi. The Karachi owners have one other branch in Dubai called BBQ Delights, but all other BBQ Tonites are just using the name for brand recognition in the PK diaspora, I would be surprised if the Houston and Dallas were connected, too. I heard the Dallas one is great. I didn't know Houston had one, too. I will check it out next time I am in town, thanks for the heads up.

                              1. re: luckyfatima

                                The Houston one is not bad, serving up many of the classics in buffet style. Not related to the one in Dallas (not anymore at least - we asked and they didn't seem happy that we did). IMO, the Dallas one is better, and the falooda at the Dallas one is FANTASTIC! Probably the best one I have eaten in the states. In Houston, I also really enjoy Savoy, but like the buffet serving at BBQ Tonite since you can try a bit of many different things.

                        2. I have some Indian friends and they seem to like Gourmet India a lot. Can't recommend it from personal experience, as I haven't been there yet, but from hearing their glowing reports, am eager to try it.

                          Gourmet India
                          13155 Westheimer Rd Ste 140, Houston, TX 77077

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Jaymes

                            I go to Gourmet India twice a month or so. I am very fond of Indian food and do different restaurants on a very frequent basis. Gourmet India is quite good. Folks are nice, service is
                            good. May not be the best but I would give it a top 5 rate.

                            Gourmet India
                            13155 Westheimer Rd Ste 140, Houston, TX 77077

                            1. re: drnogo

                              You say "May not be the best, but I would give it a top 5 rate."

                              Sounds like you eat a lot of Indian food, and that you know what you're talking about!

                              So I'm curious...

                              Which would you say is "the best"? And what are the other places in your top 5?