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Jun 7, 2006 05:46 PM

Indian in or near Santa Cruz

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A friend is heading home for the summer and is already anticipating missing DC's great Indian scene. Anything near Santa Cruz to help her out? Good South Indian would be especially appreciated.


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  1. I hope your friend has a car!

    San Jose is filled with cool Indian places but they are 35-45 minutes away. In SC there are 2 places. Royal Taj which is a fairly standard US Indian restaurant menu and a newer vegetarian (SC style) place. I don't rec. Royal Taj though I go there on occasion when I need an Indian Fix and I have not been to the other place but other local hound Carb Lover ate there and did not post that it was chow-worthy.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Nathan P.

      I think the Indian veg place you are referring to is Jumping Monkey. You're right, not chow-worthy.

      I agree w/ Nathan, there's really no good Indian food in Santa Cruz. I haven't tried Royal Taj, but everyone I know says it's pretty bad. If I was craving Indian spices and flavors, I would revisit Sri (a Sri Lankan place) or try Malabar (a veg place).

      Your friend will probably find it worthwhile to drive over the hill for Indian cuisine. Lots of good options in Sunnyvale, Milpitas, Fremont. Repost on the SF Bay Area board for more info.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        Santa Clara has a few Indian/Pakistani places. Kabab & Curries is one of my favorites off of Camino Real. Mayuri is also popular.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          Malabar is also owned by a Sri Lankan family. I haven't been in awhile, but the last time I went, I didn't like the big pieces of crunchy celery in my dish. Other than that, everything was excellent (especially the naan with garlic ghee). I'm due for another trip to Sri, though...

      2. About a year and a half ago, I had an Indian buffet dinner at the Brookdale Lodge's Pancake House. It was surprisingly good. I have no idea if they are still serving Indian food there, but it may be worth investigating.

        1. Anything in the world is better than Royal Taj: it's wretched. Disgusting, even: old, tired, uninspired. D-plus at best.

          I ate recently at Sitar, which is new, downtown on the Pacific Garden Mall. Some things were good (eggplant, chicken tikka masala), and some were terrible (the bhel puri, for instance, was a melange of what seemed to be stale Rice Krispies overwhelmed by the ten pounds of chopped raw onions). I would definitely go back, but it's a B-minus in my book. Nice atmosphere, but it's puzzling how they do place settings with cloth napkins in wine glasses, since they have no liquor license.

          San Jose and Santa Clara are where some of the best Indian food in the country is served. (Sayeth the Desi foodies I know.)

          3 Replies
          1. re: soquelcalifornia

            Update. I had a world-traveling Indian friend visit us recently, and we were walking on the downtown mall. He wrinkled his nose when we passed Sitar, and said, "You can tell they don't roast their spices. Ghastly, that." The following night, he proceeded to cook us a ten-course Bengali feast, so I take his advice that Sitar is SubPar, and will NOT darken its doors again.

            Why can't we get a decent Indian place here?

            1. re: soquelcalifornia

              May I ask how your friend knew they don't roast their own spices? I have had no desire to try Sitar since they opened. If I'm craving Indian, I'll go over the hill. Does anyone know if Lil India in Watsonville is still open? I haven't heard anything about them for a while and they're in such a poor location that I thought they were doomed...

              Is there any way you could convince your friend to relocate here and open a restaurant??

              1. re: Carb Lover

                Because you could smell the spices in the air, and roasted ones smell quite different than otherwise. (I know this myself, having roasted spices at home, but I'd never have noticed downtown without his pointing it out.)

                I wish he would move here, and don't think I didn't give it my best shot. But.

                He's moving from London to Spain...because of the food. He loved it here, but the restrictions on cheese and beer and other ridiculous food laws in the United States make it unpalatable for him on a permanent basis. He's not big on pasteurization...nor am I, come to think of it.

          2. Santa Clara also has good South Indian places. Udipi Palace and Dasaprakash are located there. Its really a quick trip from SC as long as there isn't traffic, which around lunch time should be okay.

            1. Ambrosia in Monterey on Abrego is great. I suggest trying the buffet lunch the first time to see the range of dishes.