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Sep 3, 2009 05:56 AM

Best Indian Food in the City...

Hello all,
Can you please recommend the place where to get the best Indian food in Manhattan? It wouldn't hurt if it had some ambience as well, but great food is more important.


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  1. The best food and the best ambience are both to be found at Devi, though this is very elevated restaurant-style Indian and not heavy home-cooking. Dawat is also worth considering. Saravanaas is terrific for veg, though my Gujerati friends prefer Vatan which I find a bit tacky --- though not much more so than those awful fairy-lit restaurants on 6th St.

    12 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      Seconded with Devi. Great, rather haute Indian cuisine, with VERY nice ambiance.

      1. re: psybab

        I use to be on the Devi boat but, I feel like things have gone down.. The last two times I ate there one being three months ago and then two months ago, I didnt feel good after going. Felt the food was expensive and just ok.. The last time, a lot of the people at the dinner of 10 we had didnt feel good the next day.

      2. re: JungMann

        What kind of Indian food are you looking for? If you are looking for the standard North Indian/Pakistani food
        * High End
        Bombay Talkies, Tamarind, Devi, Chola (though it's bit more south India inspired)
        * Medium-priced and/or divy
        Curry in a hurry (stick to biryanis), Kabab King in Jackson heights (stick to kababs), Jackson Diner in Jackson Heights. Brick Lane Curry house in EV is not bad but make sure you don't ever set foot in any other Indian restaurants around there (especially the ones with creepy lights).

        For south indian food, I find "Chenna Garden" to be better than Sarvanas. You may want to try Chinese Mirch which serves Indian-Chinese cuisine.

        1. re: parth

          Chennai Garden is indeed an underrated South Indian option. I actually prefer Saravana to it although I feel Saravana is slightly off (the sambar is not sour enough and it feels like they make the idli more sour to compensate, perhaps by extra fermenting).

          Thanks for Biryani tip on Curry in Hurry. I never go there ever after 2 terrible experiences.. I prefer Haandi on next block for the $8.00 "Meat Combination Platter".. that's my "cheap indian" fix.

          1. re: shanshan

            I liked Chennai Garden fine, though I think I prefer Saravanaas. I remember the food being a little richer-tasting. The chicken biryani at Haandi is surprisingly good given its appearances.

            1. re: JungMann

              I think you hit it on the head.. the sambar there is richer and for some reason feels more hearty to me. I sometimes ask them for a side of lemon to squeeze into it to add the tartness I am looking for.. but not the same.. I think what I may be looking for is more tamarind..

              1. re: JungMann

                FYI, went to Coconut Grove today on a whim. Not great, but I guess a little different than other places. the sambar was watered down.. felt like it could have been thickened up a little. idli I thought needed a little salt. they hada "chili idli manchurian" on the menu but I didn't get it. There was a large amount of thali's and non-vegetarian options. I wasn't expecting that at all. A lot of the curries seemed to have coconut. I got a dosa with chicken kurma (yes.. dosa + chicken curry). Worked out OK.. dosa wasn't too creasy and the chicken curry was fine.. a little different than I am used to with the cocunut added, so I appreciated it. Don't think it was good enough for me to come back given so many other options in the area I have yet to try.. but dosa + chicken curry was a novel combination for me which I appreciated..

                1. re: shanshan

                  Where is Coconut Grove? I've never heard of them before.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    one of the new curry hill establishments.. looks new.. its on same block as Dhaba and Pongal I believe..

                    1. re: JungMann

                      Coconut Grove was replaced by Deepam. Deepam was replaced by Diwali. Diwali also closed and was replaced by Cinnammon. Cinnammon food was good but closed recently. Chennai Garden Pongal is good. Dhaba food is tasteless. Bhojan food is way too oily and just not worth it. Saravanaa Bhavan food is good. Most Lexington Avenue restaurants with the exception of Bhatti and Saravanaa bhavan fared badly in recent NYC health inspections

                      81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

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

                      100 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                      102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                      Saravanaa Bhavan
                      413 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                    2. re: shanshan

                      jungmann, shanshan,

                      i ate at Coconut Grove following some of the chatter on these threads and also sietsema's writeup [ ]. we went on a whim as well, did not like the food; it was underseasoned and just not good.

                      we had the lamb curry entree as a thali (curry plus a ton of stuff) and also had a fish curry with dosa. they had two or three different lamb dishes; this was the one with mint, cilantro, coconut; served in a murky green sauce. the thali came with quite a bit of "accessories" (nice roti, nice dal, nice subzi, some nice kheer) and for the price, $16.95, you get a lot. major complaint: very little rice!

                      the fish curry came with a different style dosa that tasted very much like injera; fermented, soft like iddli, actually quite nice. two 10" rounds, about 1/8" thick.

                      the menu says that everything is made to order and accordingly, we waited about 20 minutes for our entrees to arrive, which is ok cuz they had serious bollywood videos on. however, both curries suffered from the same problem: even though they say made to order, i think what they refer to is that the curry "sauce" is pre-made, but they cook the meat in whatever sauce, to order. the result is that the low-quality meat and fish were extremely bland, picked up none of the flavor of the curries themselves. easy case where "cooked to order" is bad. you could literally taste the sysco bags of pre-cubed (maybe pre-cooked) lamb meat being dumped into vats of curry and in the case of the fish (which was firm but, did not taste fresh at all), the same thing. coconut sambar served with the dosa was bland.

                      the dining experience itself was nice; it got packed after we set down (random weeknight around 7pm) but nowhere near as packed as Dhaba right next door (and this was the case with the restaurant which coconut grove replaced; i remember seeing it deadly silent while dhaba was bumping, a couple months ago). staff were good, restaurant looked nice but i will never eat there again. however; there were some very good looking paper dosa being trotted out.

                      Coconut Grove
                      106 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                2. re: parth

                  if you make it all the way to jackson heights, skip The Diner and head to any number of superior spots: karahi and grill (old roti boti), deshi, kababish, delhi heights, rajhbog, alauddin's sweetmeat, al naimat for their buffet.

                  I've still not eaten there but Yuva gets good reviews for both their food and decor.

                1. re: guttergourmet

                  Glad to hear it! I've been thinking about having a birthday dinner there.

                2. I like Nirvana, on Lexington &39, great food, lovely atmosphere, attentive service

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: rkaene

                    I ate at Nirvana years ago, it was on the 15th floor overlooking Central Park, but they closed down, do you know if this Nirvana is the same?

                    1. re: TampaNativeThatLovesNYC

                      wow blast from the past.. I remember that Nirvana as well! I haven't been to this new Nirvana on Lex/39.. but I'd be surprised if it was the same.

                      1. re: shanshan

                        I was just curious on whether or not it was the same owner's. It was a great place from what I remember, it was about 9 years ago, great view of the park, great atmospher! It was the first time I ever ate Indian!

                    2. I am a Devi fan, but would have to include Taj in the list (18 Murray Street, Tribeca). We went there on Saturday night and had a really good meal - tandoori chicken with mint, lamb vindaloo, and sag paneer. It was beautifully served, very tasty, spicy, and moderately priced.

                      1. My wife and I like taking friends and family from out of town to Chola. The menu has a fairly diverse mix of South and North Indian dishes, veg and non-veg. For more downscale S. Indian, we like Chennai Garden and Tiffin Wallah in Curry Hill. She's Tamil and has high standards when it comes to Indian food.

                        I need to disagree with the Tamarind recommendation. Things may have changed (we went there over five years ago) but the one time we went did not inspire us to return. The flavors were not Indian in the slightest. No heat whatsoever. I don't need things to be insanely hot, but it needs to be authentic.