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Mar 8, 2008 01:27 PM

MSP- Favorite Indian Food?

Looking for your opinions on good Indian food for dinner- no lunch buffets or weekend brunch buffets. Points are awarded as always for freshness, authenticity, and closeness to the city (the closer to South Minneapolis, the better). Thanks, 'hounds!

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  1. I can't wait to see the replies to this. I live in Northfield and feel very fortunate that we have two very good Indian restaurants here, Chapati and Kurry Kabab, both locally owned and authentic. But when I am in Minneapolis - which is a lot - I don't know where to go for good Indian food.

    P.S. I am new to chowhound and feel so lucky to have found this place. What a great resource.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Serenity_MN

      The only one I can think of in South Mpls is Passage to India in uptown, but
      I haven't been super happy with their food the couple times I've eaten there-
      seemed like it was heavy on creamy stuff and kind of bland. And I'm not one to
      want super hot spicy food in excess either. I have enjoyed Bombay Bistro in
      downtown very much. And yes they do have a very popular lunch buffet but they also have an ala carte menu, no buffet at dinner, seems quite authentic and I see lots of Indians eating there.
      I am planning to check out Nala Pak, in Columbia Heights, (not very close to South
      Mpls) soon and will report back on the quality. From what I can tell, they have
      switched to having some North Indian and some South Indian dishes now (used to
      be all South Indian) but still is all vegetarian.

      1. re: Serenity_MN

        Welcome to chowhound, Serenity_MN! There's a branch of Chapati in the Twin Cities - in Edina, to be exact. It's on my list to try soon, as I've heard such good things about Chapati in Northfield.


        1. re: AnneInMpls

          I'm not sure which restaurant AnneInMpls is talking about, but I went to Best of India in St Louis Park some months ago. I had to laugh when I saw the menu - it was almost a clone of the Chapati menu in Northfield. (I live in Nfield, too, and am quite familiar with the menu b/c hubby must have the chicken palak, veggie samosas, and aloo naan from Chapati once a week or he gets grumpy).

          I tried the tomato soup for the first time at Best of India, liked it so much that I ordered it at Chapati, and learned that they use markedly different recipes. I liked the BoI version better (richer), but both were good. I thought the naan at BoI was better - perhaps because it came to us mere seconds after leaving the oven and was piping hot and glistening with butter. I had rogan josh when I was at BoI, and I liked it. It is heavy on the oil, but I think that is normal/authentic for the dish. I just dipped a spoon in and skimmed off some fat before taking my serving. The lamb was tender and flavorful; it was served in giant chunks but was tender enough that I didn't need a knife to separate it into smaller pieces. Serving sizes were generous - leftovers turned into lunch for 2 more days.

          We were there on a Saturday night, around 7:00. We weren't the only people there, but it wasn't crowded, either - I think they had 2 other parties when we entered, and maybe 2 more came while we were eating. Service was prompt and polite, and the food came out steaming hot. If the menu weren't *so* similar to Chapati, I'd go there again, but seeing as I can get virtually the same stuff without the 45-min drive, I am not sure I'd go back unless I happened to be in the area.

          1001 Division St S, Northfield, MN 55057

          Best of India
          8120 Minnetonka Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55426

          1. re: joshi

            You may already know this joshi, but the owners of Best of India both worked at Chapati for a while. I'm sure that's why the menu looked so familiar.

            My other recommendation for South Minneapolis is Mysore on Hennepin.

            Mysore Cafe [Closed April 08]
            2819 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

            1. re: joshi

              Here's the places link for Chapati in Edina. (It used to be the New Delhi Restaurant.)


              Chapati Indian Cuisine
              7078 Amundson Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55439

              1. re: joshi

                Here's an update. I went to Best of India on Sunday night at 8 pm. 1 other table in the place. There were 3 of us dining, and we started with the paneer pakora (cheese dipped in chickpea batter and fried) and the gobi paratha (bread with cauliflower). I am not sure if I remember the Indian names correctly, so I'm adding the english. The paratha was tasty, but the paneer was not hot when we got it. For dinner, I had the coconut soup (which was too one-dimensional for a soup, but tasted delish when I spooned it over the basmati) and the chicken dhansak (boneless white meat chicken in a lentil sauce). The chicken was dry, but the sauce was good. My friends had the eggplant veggie and potato/cauliflower veggie entrees. They seemed to like them. Nothing "wow," but decent. The most distressing thing we found was the service. The server rushed us, in ordering and eating as well. We had barely taken the final bite of app before he took our plates, including the salt/pepper and my friend's fork, and seemed a bit peeved when we asked him to replace them (the salt was desperately needed for the soup). We were also rushed to pay the tab. The place closed at 10 pm, and even though we were still sitting there, they turned the lights off on us, and we were asked to leave! I get that it is a small business, but I think that is unacceptable service. I will not be returning. If that's the servicec they offer, I can understand why we were almost the only patrons there.

                1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                  "I went to Best of India on Sunday night at 8 pm" and "The place closed at 10 pm, and even though we were still sitting there"

                  And you felt rushed? Maybe I'm missing something.

                  1. re: Enso

                    You know, I never thought of that. We were there for almost 2 hours (my companions didn't get there until closer to 8:20), but I still 'felt' rushed. We probably sat for a good 1/2 hour after we finished paying, so the ordering/dining/paying part was pretty compressed. I think we even sat for as long as possible because we felt so rushed. Sort of like a "We'll show you!" thing-- but when they turned the lights off, I guess that was moot.

                  2. re: cheeseguysgirl

                    A few weeks ago we also tried Best of India based on my reading here. We were also very disappointed.

                    We had an appetizer and a couple of entrees and all were boring - nothing tasted really fresh or had that explosion of fragrant spices. (Do have to admit the onion naan was excellent.) The samosa's were OK, but left an odd, bitter aftertaste. The chicken shahi korma, was the best thing that we had, but no real depth and as I mentioned, no freshness of spices that I love in good Indian cooking. The biggest disappointment was the began bharta - my wife and I think there might have been some eggplant in there, but it seemed to consist of an unspiced tomato puree with green peas. (Trader Joe's shelf stable Punjab Eggplant is a big step up from what we were served.)

                    I also got an odd vibe from our server - downright creepy. After the only other table in the place left, he would come out from around the corner and look at us every minute or so. About every third time out he would come over and say "no rush, take your time," but obviously actions and words didn't match up. Closing time wasn't an issue here, as we paid and left before 8PM - an hour before closing.

                    I wanted to add a comment about Chapati in Edina. It used to be our favorite Indian restaurant and that's why I had high hope for Best of India. We've been there 15-20 times before and in the past, found the medium to be perfectly spiced. However, something has changed and the last two times we've been there everything has been overpowered by an unrelenting "black-pepper hot." It's not an up-front chili type heat, but a slow-building burn that made it torture from about the third bite onward. Any other flavors were overwhelmed by a strong black, Tellicherry peppercorn flavor.

                    The first time this happened we chalked it up to a bad night. However, on our last trip about a month ago, I ordered medium, but explained that the last time we were in, it was too hot for us. The server assured me that he would tell the cook, but the food was even hotter and more unpleasant than before.

            2. For close to south Minneapolis, two options come to mind, and both are in the Town and Country minimall right off 494 and Portland. There's India Cafe, which is mostly south Indian and 75+ percent vegetarian, and Kabobs, which is the opposite. I can't vouch for Kabobs because I'm a vegetarian and always choose India Cafe if I'm at that minimall, but I'm pretty sure both are authentic, and I know both are affordable and have absolutely zero ambiance.

              Another choice, although not Indian per se, is the new Marla's on 36th and Bloomington. It's Caribbean, but their food has a strong Indian influence. It's inexpensive and also has pretty much no ambiance, but they do have table service.

              Further away, I would recommend Bombay 2 Deli (also all vegetarian) on 19th and Central NE, as well as South Asian Foods' deli on 694 and Central. I haven't been to Nala Pak in a year or so, but it's decent and, unlike the above sections, has a large dining room and beer/wine.

              I've heard good things about Sambol and Best of India, which may be closer to you, but I haven't been to either of them.

              On an unrelated note, I'm brand new here and hopefully didn't do anything unkosher in this post. This site has led me to great places so I hope I can do my best to do the same for other Minnesotans.

              8 Replies
              1. re: vadouvan

                Oh, yeah - South Asian Foods! How could I forget them? They're like a bigger version of Bombay 2 Deli with meat (in some dishes). Plus the charm of eating in a small grocery store. Nice place!


                1. re: vadouvan

                  marla's is an indian restaurant, she kept the whole menu (and kitchen staff, i think) from natraj when she bought the place. she added a page of caribbean specialties. the food is pretty good. if you bring in a clean bottle, marla will sell you some of her homemade hot sauce.

                  Vavoudan-- welcome!

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    There are actually two Marla's now. I believe you're talking about the one on Hennepin (former Natraj), which I have never been to. The new one has an all-Caribbean menu and is on Bloomington as I noted above.

                    1. re: vadouvan

                      oh! oh you are right--sorry i didn't read your post thoroughly. we just drove past the new marla's and saw it for the first time this past weekend--how long has it been open? in my recollection it was a different caribbean restaurant before (lots of takeout)? how is the food?

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        I'm not sure how long it's been open, but I think a couple to a few months. I stopped there for takeout alone on a whim, so I can't comment too much about the food, but what I had was good: a potato and channa roti. It was enormous, could've been spicier, but a great bargain. And it's always good to have places with doubles around. The menu had lots of things I would like to try, so hopefully I'll get there with a larger group soon.

                        The service did seem slow and the ambiance is lacking, but it would be good for takeout or eat-in if you don't mind a slow pace and no beer/wine (they do have Ting, though).

                        Marla's Caribbean Cuisine
                        3761 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN

                        1. re: vadouvan

                          James Norton, a chowhound and the new "cheap eats" writer for City Pages (published online only) did a blurb about the new Marla's. Sounds fantastic, actually.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            callalloo?!!??? she's got callalloo???!!! i am so THERE!!!

                            thanks for the heads up Vadouvan and the link TDQ!

                            sorry to hijack the thread all the way to the caribbean-- okay back to INDIAN food. . . :)

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              HA! I admire your enthusiasm, soupkitten. Now I'm going to have to go have the callalloo, too (since I didn't know I should crave it.)


                2. There is an extensive thread "Quality Indian in MSP." It has a ton of places links in it and should be a good resource.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    Thank you for that reference thread. I saw it when I was hunting, but it hadn't been updated recently (with Indian references, it had with South Asian ones recs), so I thought I'd resurrect the topic.

                  2. My favorite these days is Bombay 2 Deli. Oh, how I love this place. The yogurt soup is the stuff of dreams, and the samosa chaat will transform even the dreariest day into a happy memory.

                    But it's not a sit-down restaurant - it's a counter in a grocery store that has three cooked dishes each day, plus a dozen snacks. Everything is vegetarian. There are two tables and a small counter to sit at. And a charming, talkative woman at the counter who offers advice on what to order and will email recipes at the slightest encouragement.

                    Bombay 2 Deli is in NE Mpls, on the other side of downtown from South Minneapolis, but it's worth the trip.

                    I also really liked India Cafe (494 @ Portland) on my two trips there. But they're closed between lunch and dinner, so I don't get there often - I eat at odd hours.


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Thanks to everyone! CG and I went to Namaste Cafe last night. We had the Spicy Potatoes (not hot, but flavorful, and lightly crisped around the edges) and the Paapri Chaat (think indian nachos-- lots of stuff, but a delightful explosion of intense flavors). We shared the creamy masala curry with chicken and the spicy vegetables-- again, spicy meaning flavorful. There were some delicious spice achaars to mix in, and we could have ordered raita to soothe, but it wasn't necessary. The aloo paratha was great and buttery, but not a lot of potatoes (in fact, I wondered if we'd been given the plain paratha, but it was delicious so I didn't care). Portions were not large, but it was enough for us for dinner (no leftovers). Service was great- we let our server pick two apps for us, and she chose great ones. She also asked some questions before deciding which achaars to bring us.

                      I am not generally a chai lover, but there were 8 or 9 on the menu, so I decided to give the coconut one a try, since I covet most coconut-containing foods. It was fantastic- tasted sort of like warm malted milk. I would definitely try it again.

                      So for two apps, two dinners, two orders of bread and a drink, we got out of there for under 50 bucks. We would definitely go back-- but I would highly recommend getting a table far from the door. We were right next to it, and even though there is a front door to the outside before the door to the restaurant, we kept getting buffeted by the cold air every time it opened (which was frequent, as you can imagine how busy a cheap restaurant on Hennepin on a Saturday night would be).

                      Namaste Cafe
                      2512 Hennepin Ave Ste 1, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                      1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                        I never think to go to Namaste. Now I will.

                        I am happy to see they have brown rice as an additional option, though I love Basmati, It's nice to have a choice. As one who tends to order 'aloo' everything, I get enough starch from the potatoes.

                        I have one kind of silly question. Did you have to park far, far away?

                        1. re: MplsM ary

                          Their basmati seemed especially fluffy to me-- although I think I've been cooking too much plain long-grain, which can get sticky sometimes.

                          The parking question is not silly at all! I forget that since I live in the city, I get used to street parking, and not everyone is. We actually parked directly across the street (for free), and once the Hennepin light at 25th turned red, it was very easy to cross. The diners next to us mentioned that Namaste had a lot in back, but it was only for a couple of cars and would likely be difficult to land a spot.

                          1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                            Lot is truly an exaggeration. Just a couple of spots. But the parking on Hennepin just south of 25th is usually OK.

                            1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                              I am a little parallel parking challenged so I will be looking for those two spots in back before I jam up traffic trying to park on Hennepin. Still I'll subject myself to the honking, shouting and flying fingers to get to good Indian. Apologies in advance to those I will make late.

                              Thanks for the answer.

                        2. re: AnneInMpls

                          Others have been so good about adding places links, so here are the ones for the restaurants I recommended. Oh, I'm so hungry for Indian food!


                          Bombay 2 Deli [Closed - May Reopen in Different Place]
                          1840 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

                          TBS India Cafe
                          7826 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

                          South Asian Foods
                          765 53rd Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

                        3. We love Namaste, though I think they're technically Nepalese...but I'm sure people in Nepal wouldn't be able to tell the nuanced differences between Canadian food and American. (chili-cheese fries vs poutine?)

                          Mysore is also very good. The dosai are the second best we've had in the TC.

                          But I live in NE and thus, like Anne, am thankful for and love Bombay2Deli (ps. cleverest name in town). Rachema is the best hostest in town. I never realized they had a menu as we always just get a sample of whatever the house curries are the day we go in, but sure enough, they have one:


                          Also no where near South Mpls but one of our favorites is Nala Pak (I think Columbia Heights technically). Others noticed a change in the food after the name change from Udupi, but we still find it consistant and very good. Great thali dinners and the BEST dosais in town. They also have these sort of indian pizza things that we see people ordering there that look good. Also in that area is The Vegetarian is fantastic.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Foureyes137

                            Here's a places link for Nala Pak. I haven't been here since the name change, so I gotta go. And I see that they're open on Mondays!


                            Nala Pak
                            4920 Central Avenue NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421

                            1. re: Foureyes137

                              I know they say they're Nepalese, but I spent some time in Nepal and they're not actually very authentic. The food is delicious, don't get me wrong, but not authentic. They're sort of a Nepali-Indian fusion, IMO. If you ask the chefs, they admit they do a very personal interpretation.