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Mar 5, 2008 07:20 AM

Indian food in San Diego

What is your favorite Indian restaurant in San Diego? I'm looking for an Indian restaurant that has a pretty nice atmosphere and where you can sit down and enjoy a great meal. I don't want reccomendations for fast food Indian.

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  1. It's a shame you're more interested in the atmosphere, the best stuff I've found is at casual places like Surati Farsan or Punjabi Tandoor. Taste of India, down in Mission Hills near El Indio, is pretty decent, if pricey, though I don't think it holds a candle to the aforementioned casual spots.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Josh

      I concur. Surati Farsan is probably the best Indian place I've been in San Diego with Punjabi Tandoor a close second. The Indian food here is pretty weak and in my experience you're not going to find a really nice Indian restaurant. That said, it's not like the atmosphere at Surati Farsan or Punjabi Tandoor is like walking in to a McDonald's.

    2. I have to agree with Josh, it's not necessarily about the atmosphere with these places. That being said - Gourmet India on 4th downtown (near Horton Plaza) is very good.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Alice Q

        What about Bombay or Royal Exquisite India Cuisine?

        1. re: lovesfood11

          Bombay isn't bad. An Indian friend of mine who ate there gave them pretty high marks. It's pricey, but you can eat well there.

          1. re: Josh

            Yah i heard it was a little bit pricey but I'm fine with that as long as my experience is good. Would you say Bombay is the best sit down Indian in San Diego. Also if Punjabi Tandoor's a sit down place I wouldn't mind going there. I just wanted to eat at a restaurant because most likely I will be going for Indian this friday night.

            1. re: lovesfood11

              The last few times we went to Bombay (granted it was a while ago b/c there is better Indian in this town), it was on the Americanized side. Saag paneer was tasteless and dull. I remember not tasting enough spice and heat in the dishes in general.

              Punjabi Tandoor has a few tables to eat at but it is not a "sit down and they bring you the menu and food to your table" kind of place. You order at the counter off the menu on the walls, they call your number and you get it from the counter. Styrofoam plates and plastic utensils. But the food is worth it! If you are new to Indian food, this is one of the best you'll find in the city.

              Surati Farsan Mart has a very different menu than Punjabi Tandoor. They specialize in vegetarian chaat, which I liken to dim sum, tapas or izakaya dining. Order several plates to share to create a full meal. It is also sit-down but you order off the wall at the counter and then pick up your food when they call your name. The place is bigger and has a nicer ambiance than Punjabi Tandoor (ie: flat screen tvs playing Bollywood videos) if you really don't like eating at hole in the walls.

              1. re: daantaat

                Usually I don't mind eating at hole in the walls. But when I go out for dinner on Friday nights I usually like the restaurants I go to to have some kind of atmosphere. Where is Punjabi Tandoor again?

                1. re: lovesfood11

                  Punjabi Tandoor is on Activity Road, 1.5 blocks west of Black Mountain Rd. It has zero atmosphere, but the food is great. Surati Farsan Mart is on Black Mountain Road, between Miramar and Activity Rd., and is much nicer in decor than Punjabi Tandoor, though it's still very casual.

            2. re: lovesfood11

              Bombay is absolutely awful. I hope you didn't go there. We really should have walked out after they (1) offered me a bag of stale Lipton's when I asked if they had tea, and (2) served an awful "appetizer" of dried out "sliders" which I think were supposed to be lamb.

              Skip it.

          2. We've given up on indian in san diego. Bombay is run by some folks who used to live in london, so its anglicised then americanised!!

            If you're looking for a good bit of curry I really love Khyber pass in Hillcrest. The boys love the lamb dishes there and I had the veggie mix plate and it was delicious.

            The food isnt spicy-hot but its very flavorful. The atmosphere is very nice too and the service is great. They've just started doing some new desserts too, a rice pudding and a pistachio panna cotta.

            11 Replies
            1. re: jennywenny

              Have you tried either Surati Farsan or Punjabi Tandoor?

              Given the almost exclusively Indian clientele, I don't think you could call these places Anglicized or Americanized.

              1. re: Josh

                Some people consider Little India (Miramar Road at Black Mountain Road) to be "North County", out of their range. :)

                On the other hand, Khyber Pass is a decent recommendation, IMO. It is more Afghani and Turkish than Indian, IMO, but it's enough in the genre that it deserves a try. I think it gets passed over a lot on this board because it is a hybrid that doesn't fit any of the usual categories.

              2. re: jennywenny

                Ummmmm...London has the very best Indian outside of India. While there is an anglicized component (which is natural) in the usual Indian food in London, there are parts of London that are filled with tiny streetside to-go joints that cater to strictly Indian tastes and churn out food that you simply wouldn't believe.

                Upscale restos in London, such as The Red Fort, Last Days of the Raj, Bombay Brasserie and the like stand amongst the finest Indian restaurants in the world.

                It's a big mistake to dismiss an Indian owner or chef simply because he/she is from London.

                1. re: deckape

                  Jenny is from England - so I think she probably knows this. Why would you assume otherwise?

                  1. re: Alice Q

                    I assumed nothing, Alice, and only posted to her sense that it was "anglicized, then americanized". I had no particular sense or knowledge of Jenny's nationality.

                    I agree with her that giving up on Indian in SD is a temptation, I have as well for the most part. When I do go out for an Indian I keep my expectations well in check and I'm never let down. I just look forward to my trips to London to indulge and savor.

                    That said, I have no preference locally for Indian. Save for Madras and the market on Black Mtn Rd, it's all virtually the same for Indian in SD. While frustrating, it's understandable.

                  2. re: deckape

                    Hi there,
                    I didnt mean to sound all condescending! I realise London has some awesome food, having lived round the corner from brick lane for several years! It just seemed that bombay had picked up the worst of the british provincial town curry houses and everything was brightly coloured and not that good, according to a friend of mine. He said it really reminded him of a curry in the 70's back home and then he realised it totally was, as the owner had moved from there at that time.

                    Its one of those examples of cooks trying to please the local population instead of sticking to their guns and following their traditional recipes.

                    I'm always happy to try a new place though if it pops up and I love a trip to black mountain road to try the food, get some pg tips teabags and other wonderful groceries from Ker.

                    1. re: jennywenny

                      "I'm always happy to try a new place though if it pops up and I love a trip to black mountain road to try the food, get some pg tips teabags and other wonderful groceries from Ker."

                      So let me clarify - are you saying that some restaurants there are worthwhile, and that your "giving up" comment was directed towards the Indian restaurants closer to downtown? Not trying to argue; just trying to figure out where everybody stands on the issue. :)

                      At least from my (limited and fairly ignorant) perspective, it is not worth driving from UTC to anywhere other than the "Little India" area in Miramar. It does sound like if I'm stuck downtown (cough, jury duty, cough), Gourmet India might be a nice place to try for myself. During my last stay, I was anything but blown away by my visit to Monsoon - both off the menu and from the buffet.

                      1. re: RB Hound

                        I think you've hit the hammer on the nail. The places where there is an indian community and an indian restaurant nearby are absolutely great, but trying to go for an indian in hillcrest, la jolla or downtown is often a bit of a disappointment. I'm all embarrassed now, as I'm no connoseur of indian food, but a lot of the other food in San Diego is so exceptional that I usually wait until I go back to Birmingham, UK to get my fix at our local balti house.

                    2. re: deckape

                      I'd throw Singapore in there for Indian food too. (response to deckape)

                    3. re: jennywenny

                      I love Khyber Pass too. It is Afghan food, so it has different seasonings and preparations, but it is quite good.

                      1. re: jennywenny

                        If you like Khyber Pass I highly recommend Pamir House in Poway which has excellent Afghan food. Just went there last week again and it is was good as ever.


                      2. One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is to go shopping at Ker & Little India on Black Mountain Road off of Miramar and then have lunch at Ashoka. In fact, there are several good places in that little strip mall area. And, even the buffet, which I usually don't care for, is very good at Ashoka.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sandiegofoodstuff

                          I've found the food at Ashoka disappointing. I've had some of the worst lamb ever there. I really enjoy Madras across the parking lot form Ashoka. It's southern Indian and vegetarian.

                          My favorite is Punjabi Tandoor, but I haven't tried Surati Farsan yet.

                        2. If you aren't opposed to the Indian food at places like Bombay I highly recommend checking out Monsoon downtown if you want ambiance. The menu is far more diverse, spicy, and interesting than Bombay. They try to pull in the Gaslamp crowd with cocktails and martinis and such, but the food is still very good for the style.

                          I love the little places on Black Mountain Rd, especially because there are several styles available, but none of them are really somewhere you want to be on a Friday night.