Indian not in the burbs?
We're two Indian food lovers who've never met planning to be in Philly in two weeks. We won't have a car so travelling to the outer neighborhoods is problematic. Is there a very good to great Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi restaurant in town?
There is a great Pakistani restaurant in West Philly called Kabobeesh, not far from Center City and easy access via public transit or a reasonable cab ride. The food is great but the atmosphere in non-existent (order at counter) and the immediate neighborhood is a little run down (it is however just a few blocks from the University of Pennsylvania which has more going on). It's the kind of place frequented by taxi drivers.
As for Indian in Center City, I recently had the lunch buffet at Palace at the Ben in the Benjamin Franklin Building (9th & Chestnut) and I was really impressed with the flavors -- much much better than the Indian restaurants I have been to in Center City and the suburbs recently. It has a more upscale atmosphere and good service but prices are reasonable. Any hounds been here recently?
If you are adventurous, you can try Tashan for upscale Indian fusion. I have only been for drinks and snacks and wasn't impressed with the food I tried or service but some people love it. Not in exactly in Center City but very close, it is walkable or a short cab ride depending where you are coming from. Not sure if they have prices on the website but be warned it's an expensive endeavor.
Kabobeesh is enjoyable, but you may also like Wah Gi Wah if you are in the mood for really delicious chicken: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/834587 It's also in West Philly, three blocks up from Kabobeesh.
My friend, whose opinion I trust for Indian in the area, has also said that Mood Cafe is quite good for chaat. It's at 46th and Baltimore, which are a few more blocks SW of Kabobeesh.
Pretty much all the Indian restaurants are northern Indian/Punjabi so the general Indian recs should hold for that. The butter chicken (very similar to tikka masala, less cream/yogurt I think) I had at the Palace/Ben buffet was really fantastic. The only place to get southern Indian food in the city that I know about is Philadelphia Chutney Co. Their dosas are very good (they have traditional style as well as fusion ingredients you can use to customize) as is their Gobi Manchurian (not sure if that is a Southern dish). But it's a very casual place, not a full service restaurant, and menu is pretty limited outside of the ingredients they will put in a dosa.
I think there is a place or two in the far Northeast but that is not really different than driving to Bensalem.
I haven't been recently, but almost everything I've had from Ekta's dinner specials menu is really delicious. I'm not sure if they offer it any more, but there was a savory mango chicken dish that I was quite partial to. I did not detect any differences between the two locations (Fishtown and Bryn Mawr).
I usually make murgh makhani at home, so cannot attest to any great shop around here. I'll have to ask my friends about south Indian as I haven't found it.