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Indian Food in Phoenix

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Hey Fellow Phoenix Chowhounders,

My friends and I have recently moved to Phoenix are hoping to find a great Indian restaurant in Phoenix.

I've browsed through the past posts and didn't see anything too recent. Are Tandoori Times, Pasand, and Taste of India still the top Indian restaurants near Phoenix (we work near the junction of the 51 and 10)?

Also, is anyone who's been to a couple of these willing to rank them?

Thanks

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  1. I highly recommend Tandoori Times. It is more of a bistro setting and great food. They are also not shy about spice, so you may want to ask. I can't comment on Pasand or Taste of India as I haven't been, but I really had a great time at Tandoori Times.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Seth Chadwick

      Hello everyone! Just arrived back from my first dinner at Tandoori Times. Had the Saturday special of Beef Nihari (tomato-based curry), complete with saffron Basmati rice, one naan, and a side salad for $14. I also ordered some comforting and tasty Dal Makhani, $9 (tasted equally wonderful with the rice and naan). I finished with a bowl of kheer, $3. You must try the complimentary Indian tea chai sweetened with sugar syrup used to flavor the gulab jamun (OK, so I had a taste!). A delicious meal! Was pleasantly surprised that there was belly-dancing (Saturday/Sunday, starting at 8p). Joel was my amiable (and cute!) and attentive server. I will return!

    2. I love Indian food, but grow frustrated with Indian restaurants -- not only in Phoenix, but everywhere I travel. There is too much mediocre cooking and too many cookie-cutter menus. As a result, I cannot think of any one place that stands out as consistently excellent at the moment. You just have to find a place that works for you more often than not. Here are some comments and observations:

      Tandoori Times -- never been there; people speak highly of it, but it's outside my normal travel patterns and I have trouble with the silly name

      Taste of India -- I've been, but it's been a long time. Reasonably good northern Indian with a British feel, although not terribly close to your work location.

      Pasand -- southern Indian food with masala dosa, idli sambar, etc. For best results, stick to these dishes rather than trying Pasand's take on northern Indian. Pasand offers northern Indian dishes to cater to customer expectations, but their specialty is southern Indian food.

      Other possibilities:

      Flavors of India -- the closest to your location at 16th St. and Campbell; food and service are both erratic. Hit it on a good day, and you'll love it; on a bad day, you'll wonder why you wasted your money.

      Priya -- southern Indian at McClintock & Warner in Tempe

      Indian Delhi Palace -- northern Indian at 50th & McDowell, east side of Phoenix

      Delhi Palace -- northern Indian at Rural & University in Tempe

      Jewel of the Crown -- northern Indian near the Scottsdale Center for the Arts

      3 Replies
      1. re: silverbear

        Great list, SB. I haven't been to Tandoori Times, but people seem to like it. Otherwise, I'd go with Jewel of the Crown.

        Barry

        1. re: silverbear

          I've been too all listed so far, save for Jewel of the Crown.

          Your CLOSEST is India Dehli Palace, and it's very good Northern, IMHO. Your next closest, and with better food, is Dehli Place. Priya is definitely worth the drive for Southern style, and I would also have you try Pasand. I've been there twice, and once was just TOO much spice for me. However, it sounds like what you're after.

          I eat at Maharaja frequently, but only during the lunch buffet. Good and consistent, but not worth a drive for you. Taste of India is even better, but ditto.

          As to T-Times, I've been ONCE. I'll try it again, but I think it's got more atmosphere going for it than the food. Nice bar, club type layout, with generous patio seating. The belly dancer was a treat for me, but I would've been a bit embarrassed were I with a spouse or date.

          Copper Kettle has two 'affiliated' locations, not really at all alike. They're Paki-owned, and the cuisine overlaps with N. Indian. Guadalupe and Baseline has the atmosphere. Tempe, by ASU Main has the value, particularly if you can hang with the college crowd and you don't need tablecloths and linen to be impressed.

          1. re: silverbear

            Jewel of the Crown--the thickest palak paneer I've ever had. The naan bread was so dry that it required lots of water to down.

          2. I think your closest bet is Indian Delhi Palace. I've not been, but I'm hoping to try it.

            I wanted to add Maharajah Palace to the list for comprehensiveness' sake. It's 59Ave and Bell, so not central, but I'm always glad to eat there. I was in a few weeks ago and ordered their dinner combo, and asked for it spicy. I got the raised eyebrow and nodded to show I meant it, and happily, they complied. I had the most wonderful slow burn going the rest of the evening. Fantastic tandoori and naan.

            I have a giant soft spot for Delhi Palace because it was a great place for lunch in grad school. They have a chai dispenser on the lunch buffet, and the naan is fluffy and so fragrant.

            1. I've yet to try Tandoori Times and Jewel of the Crown (the latter is highly recommended by the PHX Vegetarian Society I dine with on occasions). I've tried Pasand- you must try the Tandoori chicken (part of the combo I had with lamb and beef; the chicken was the best), the dosai, and the kulfi (oh, I could sing praises over the kulfi!). The papadum is also good.

              You must try Udupi Cafe on Scottsdale Rd near McKellips. I always order their dosai. Their mulligatawny soup is excellent, as are their chutneys.

              Tried the chicken balti, garlic naan, and Dal (lentil) at the Copper Kettle on Guadalupe/Baseline. The balti was disappointingly bland, the naan was equally flavorless and soggy. I enjoyed the very flavorful dal the best. Will have to try their curries next visit... I spied some on a couple's table on my way out... they looked scrumptious!

              I haven't decided which one I will try first this weekend: T-Times or Jewel of the Crown. Any suggestions on what dishes I should order?

              7 Replies
              1. re: starlightjulian

                Oops! I meant KHEER, not kulfi, regarding the sublime dessert I had at Pasand's. Forgive me!

                1. re: starlightjulian

                  I've never been a big fan of the curries at Copper Kettle, but love the chicken boti sultani, lamb briyani, and minced lamb kabob. I'm surprised to hear the chicken balti was bland since it's cooked with lots of ginger and topped with cilantro. Are there two different types of chicken balti?

                  1. re: IamJacksBrain

                    There is only one chicken balti on the menu, and I thought the flavor was lacking. I suppose I was just expecting more... oomph! I had originally just ordered the balti, which came with the soggy garlic naan. The meal improved immensely fifteen minutes later, when I decided to order the dal. I will visit again soon and try one of your menu selections.

                    1. re: starlightjulian

                      I took out my to go menu and there are two chicken baltis on the menu. The significantly better one is the ginger chicken balti.

                      I'll have to try the dal next time I'm there.

                      1. re: IamJacksBrain

                        I had the ginger chicken balti. The taste was decent enough, but nothing special. I was searching for something more flavorful, more sensational that evening. The garlic naan was disappointing... the naan at Tandoori Times and Jewel of the Crown surpass it greatly! The meal turned for the better when my dal order arrived. I would have to go back and order the dal again to be sure, but I think I prefer CK's version (green or yellow lentils) over those of Tandoori Times and Jewel of the Crown (both of the black lentil variety and both very tasty!).

                        1. re: starlightjulian

                          *laugh* RE: thinking you got the regular chicken balti.

                  2. re: starlightjulian

                    I will add my vote for Udupi. It is vegeterian, and they also have some "vegan" dishes. I am neither (an unconsitituted meat eater), but I don't really care. The "dosai" is a paper-thin wrapper, in which there are many variations for the filling; if you want a close comparison, think "quesadilla" but it isn't the same. Actually, the best dish I had there was the cauliflower (can't remember the name). I have not been there for a number of months, and I've read about the quality "slipping", so take that into account.

                  3. I've tried Copper Kettle (in Mesa and Tempe), Delhi Palace Cuisine of India (Tempe), Tandoori Times (Scottsdale and Glendale), Indian Delhi Palace (east Phoenix), Indian Maharaja Palace (Glendale), Tandoori Village (Glendale), Udupi Cafe (Tempe) and Taste of India (Phoenix). As you can probably tell, I like Indian food.

                    Out of all these, Tandoori Times (the one is Scottsdale) has been the most consistent and I have been there the most. The worst of the lot was Taste of India.

                    Tandoori Village which is fairly new is not bad either but their service is awful. Service has been my main issue with several Indian restaurants in town but Tandoori Times doesn't normally disappoint in that area.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: emokid

                      Please don't forget Royal Taj in Tempe (broadway and mcclintock). They have a great lunch buffet -- as long as you get there early. If you get there at the end, the rice is hard and the food's been sitting around too long. They also have chai and great garlic naan with the lunch buffet.
                      My husband's from India and his fav restaurant is Jewel of the Crown and Udupi (except for the sktchy health dept. rating that place has been getting recently). I love Royal Taj.

                      Also -- if you feel like chaat for lunch, you can head to India World on McClintock (or rural?) and Southern..

                      1. re: anakalia

                        Big fan of Jewel of the Crown. Never had a bad meal there and have been going for eight years.

                        1. re: avandelay

                          been going there as well. been absent for a while but a bunch of us went last month and it was great!

                          i've heard that there is an indian market in the strip mall with pasand that serves food that is supposed to be very good. anybody been there? keep seeing it on steve's espresso visits. need to try it.

                      2. re: emokid

                        Visited Jewel of the Crown for the first time Sunday night. I ordered the lamb boti masala, dal maharani, garlic naan, and roti; my friend ordered a potato and pea dish and a side of basmati rice. Papadum sheets were good with the sweet chile and mint/parsley "dips." Everything we ordered was tasty and satisfying. I even some delicious kheer. Has anyone tried JotC's gulab jamun? Is it as good, or better than that of Tandoori Times? I cannot wait to try other dishes at both venues soon!

                        Was going to try Tempe's Delhi Palace Monday night, but the restaurant was closed. I then opted to give Char's Thai a try, but after waiting more than 5 minutes to be greeted and seated, I waited another 10 minutes or more after I was served water to place my order, but the server never returned. Two strikes, Char's, and I won't be coming back. Instead, I struck a homerun at Nhat with their lemongrass chicken served with sticky rice. I also tried the seafood combo pho with egg noodles- it ended up being an imitation crab egg noodle pho with veggies (and I had to order another side of veggies to round out the meal) since I'm allergic to shrimp. Good soup, but will not order due to the imitation crab.

                        1. re: starlightjulian

                          Char's definitely has service challenges. It's incredibly dark. Combine that with the high-backed booths, and I often find it's necessary to lean outside my booth and wave every time I need something.

                          1. re: silverbear

                            I've given them two chances already, so I won't go back. Too many other places to try!

                      3. I'll add Little India as an offbeat addition to the list. It's grocery with chaat dishes in the same strip mall as Pasand. I do like Pasand, but then I'm fond of spice and southern Indian dishes.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: zebcook

                          zebcook, i think that's exactly what i was referring to in the post above. nice! so a thumbs up?

                          1. re: ccl1111

                            I like the dishes at Little India. It's an absolute dead zero for anything involving ambiance or charm (unless you ARE looking for a dining experience that's a couple of formica tables squeezed in next to the bags of dal). Service is relatively nonexistent. It took me a while to figure out that you take a slip and pencil from up front by the register and mark what you want. But I like the food and it makes a good cheap meal.

                        2. A new location of Tandoori Times recently opened on Bell in Glendale. We tried it and liked it quite well, although we found it a little pricier than most Indian restaurants. We had garlic naan, a chicken curry (can't remember now -- may have been tikka), palak paneer, and lamb biryani. We were least pleased with the palak paneer, which is one of our standard choices in an Indian restaurant; we found it under-flavored, and I would have liked the paneer to be more firm. But we will go back because it's close to our house.

                          However, our favorite far and away continues to be Udupi. We have never been disappointed there, and we have a long way to go before we sample everything on the menu.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kittyfood

                            If you haven't tried the paneer dosa, you must on your next visit! The mulligatawny ("no soup for you!") is also excellent. If you like very spicy, try the eggplant curry. If only I wasn't trying to avoid fried foods, I would order the samosas in a heartbeat... wonderfully crisped, delicious, and not greasy at all. I just love the sauces/dips at Udupi.

                          2. I've tried Pasand, Tandoori Times, Jewel of the Crown, Star of India (40th and Chandler), and Royal Taj.

                            Pasand serves great chicken and lamb tandoori (chicken being the better of the two). I enjoyed the "all you can eat" dosa, even though successive dosa arrived with less and less potato filling :( (I only had three!). The kheer (milk, nuts, vermicelli strands, and cardamom) is the best I've had anywhere (although the kheer I just tried at Tandoori Times is a close second!).

                            I had the Beef Nihari dinner special at TT, which came with a side salad, naan, and saffron Basmati rice. I was disappointed that the beef curry, while delicious, only contained three small chunks of beef. For dessert, I tried the kheer (very good, with whole nuts mixed in) and a delightful ball of gulab jamun swimming in a saffron and cardamom-scented sugar syrup. I even used some of the syrup to flavor the complimentary chai, a vast improvement from the earlier sips I had with only sugar to sweeten with. This sugar syrup-sweetened chai could easily fill in for dessert the next time I go, but why would I want to skip dessert?? LOL. But seriously, with all the dining out I've done lately, I may just have to settle for chai... getting chubby :)

                            I had lamb boti masala, garlic naan, roti, and dal maharani at JotC (my friend had the potato and pea veggie entree and Basmati rice). All were very good and recommendable. (The masala sauce over salad would make a great meal! I had a few small chunks of lamb, sauce, and salad for lunch today... delish!) The kheer here was also good, but I preferred TT's nuttier and larger portion. Be forewarned, the portions served here are smaller than average, but the menu proves to be very promising! I cannot wait to go back! BTW, I love the atmosphere here... just beautiful and romantic. If only they'd dress up the restrooms a bit.

                            It's been over a year (maybe even two), since I dined at Star of India. I recall favoring the chicken naan. I had to stop going as the owner was getting a little too friendly...

                            Royal Taj... I was just starting to work through some food issues (I suffer from both food allergies and intolerances) and had to inquire about the buffet selections. I found it very hard to understand the woman who tried to answer my inquiries. I will have to go back and try ordering from the menu. As the years go by, I'm finding myself wanting to stay away from buffets. I don't think it's the best way to sample from the menu, and it's so difficult not to overindulge!! Plus, I like enjoying my meals fresh and at correct temperatures.

                            As an aside, Copper Kettle, a Pakistani restaurant, serves tandoori items as well. While the ginger chicken balti I had there left much to be desired (the flavor was decent enough; I was just expecting something more), I enjoyed the dal dish (simmered lentils). The garlic naan was greasy on top and soggy on the bottom (a better version can be had at JotC).

                            Tangentially, if you like lentils and vegetarian fare in general, you must try Ethiopian food! (Tempe has two restaurants: Blue Nile (better food) and Cafe Lalibela (better atmosphere). Injera (spongy bread) is used to scoop up the food and all the delicious sauces from the different veggie selections; you may request utensils but the traditional way to eat is communal and with your fingers. If you do not care for injera (made from teff and wheat- delicious, high in fiber and very good for you!), you may order brown rice If you don't want to share your food, you can order individual platters. Blue Nile Cafe also serves very good lamb shank specials. I favor Tina's Ethiopian Cafe (forget about atmosphere in this house!) in Chandler out of the three restaurants I've tried.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: starlightjulian

                              Interesting report. Did you try the Copper Kettle location in Mesa or Tempe? I've heard they're quite different.

                              Royal Taj's buffet has always seemed weak compared to some others, and I'm also beginning to overload on Indian buffets. I'd be interested to hear about Royal Taj's standard menu.

                              Regarding Ethiopian, I've been a fan of LaLibela since it opened in the late 90s. I recently tried Blue Nile for the first time and certainly liked it, but I still give a slight edge to LaLibela. I haven't made it to Tina's yet.

                              1. re: silverbear

                                I think it's the lackluster service at Lalibela that turns me off... As you can see, I find service to be very important in my dining out experiences.

                                1. re: starlightjulian

                                  Interesting. I've never had a problem with the service at Lalibela, but it may be a function of time of day or other factors.

                                  1. re: silverbear

                                    I have eaten at Blue Nile twice and Cafe Lalibela three times over the past couple years and have found the food and service superior at Blue Nile. Although I can only comment on the vegetable dishes, Blue Nile's preparations were more competent with better balanced spices in their misir/shiro wat, and excellent gomens. I also prefer the injera at Blue Nile; it is more sour and I suspect made with real Teff flour as opposed to the Lalibela injera which has a lighter appearance and more subtle taste which some might prefer. I have eaten at many of what are considered the country's best ethiopian restaurants in Washington, DC and food wise, Blue Nile can compete with the best of them and dominates all of them in terms of value (8.95 for a vegetable platter and 6.95 per person for 2 or more is an absolute steal).

                                    I still have yet to get out to Tina's, which I will remedy soon, but in the mean time can anyone comment on the vegetable dishes? Any stand outs, unique items, or seasonal specialties? Does anyone know if Tina sources her produce from local sources?