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Indian food in Houston

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  • Sarah C Jun 12, 2002 09:57 AM
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We are driving over to Houston this weekend from New Orleans and, in addition to our necessary visits to Arandas and a shopping spree at the Central Market, my husband is craving Indian food. I've perused the past postings on the board and I have some information on the Indian restaurant "mile" -- but does anyone have any current and specific recommendations?

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  1. For curries, saag paneer, etc. I think Shiva in the Rice Village area is very good. (I'm not a big tandoor fan, so maybe someone else can comment on that). India's on Richmond is an old standby that was still fine the last time I was there. Haven't been to Indika yet, but a lot of people love it. And guess what, there's a restaurant in Sugar Land called Cafe India that is as good as any place I've been in Houston. Their chicken biriyani is awesome. (service is pretty sluggish, though)
    There's a little storefront place on Hillcroft called Raja that serves an enormous plate of chicken curry for about $5.00! And they always have great rasmalai!

    1. Try Khyber (Richmond at Kirby), Viceroy, Shiva or India House. Houston has among the best Indian and Thai restaurants in the country.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Forrest A.

        ?!?! Where is this good Thai you're talking about? Haven't had good Thai in Houston since Nit Noi went to hell a couple years ago. Please help... recommended Golden Room on Montrose to some friends (for the soup, if nothing else), and I heard even the soup was bad now.

        Mai Thai on Kirby is good at times, but is pretty inconsistent.

        Please help!

        I agree with the Vietnamese comment, but would add Vietnam Coast on Hillcroft, to the list.

        1. re: Alx

          I agree that Nit Noi is not what it used to be. Try The Golden Room (last Saturday it was superb), Taste Of Thai (Louisiana at Gray, possibly the best in town), Patu (in the Village) and Kanomwan Thai (Telephone Road). We recently sampled Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, purported to be the best in the U.S., and it doesn't hold a candle to these places IMHO.

          1. re: Forrest A.

            I second the recommendations for Taste Of Thai (Louisiana at Gray) and Kanomwan (Telephone Road), but Patu (in the Rice Village) has disappointed me in the past.

            Next time you're in the Asian district on the west side of town, you might want to try Thai Spice Express (8282 Bellaire; see their menu at www.thaispice.com). Or, if you get closer to the Beltway, there's Thai Corner, a tiny storefront in a new shopping center between Ba Ky restaurant and Dynasty Mall. It's a bit far back from the road, so look for the signs advertising a casino bus terminal in the same shopping center to find it. They've got about ten tables and accept cash only. I liked their whole fried fish, fried fish cakes and papaya salad.

            1. re: Forrest A.

              I just saw this after this thread was bumped up and HAD to chime in. Houston Thai doesn't come close to Lotus of Siam. LOS has some of the best food I have had anywhere at any price! Patu, TOT (closed) GR are run of the mill IMO and not much better than Nit Noi. Kanamwan is overhyped/overpriced albeit with a couple very good dishes.
              In Houston Vieng Thai is very good, and the Thai restaurant on Richmond near Hilcorft is good. Thai Corner, have not been in forever is small but pushes out some tasty stuff as well.

            2. re: Alx
              h
              Houston Chick

              I swear by Patu in Rice Village. Small placem good service. The menu isn't a book like at Nit Noi, but the service is far better and I don't have to worry about dirty utensils at Patu. YUM!

              1. re: Alx

                The Golden Room going downhill? Say it isn't so!!!! We live in California, but we book 4 hour layovers in Houston when we are flying through, rent a car, and drive to the Golden Room to have the following: spicy mint beef, spicy mint chicken, and ka prau beef.

                Despite the name, you can get them mild. We've taken non-spice people there, and they were fine with the mild. We are big spice people but we get them medium because the flavors are balanced better.

                We have lived in NY, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Vegas. Can't find these dishes made this way anywhere else we've ever been. Soul food.

                We drive back with full and happy tummies and continue our journey.

                CA Scotch Chick
                www.scotchchix.com

            3. I like the lunch setup at Madras Pavilion (3910 Kirby), and especially their giant dosas. I've been hearing mixed stories about Cafe Udupi not far down the road (2121 Richmond). Anyone have any opinions to offer on which does south Indian food better?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bopser
                h
                Houston Chick

                Madras Pavallion is far better than Udupi - even though I was cheering for Udupi when it opened because Houston needed another good South Indian place. I heard it was better when it first opened but my 1st visit didn't warrant a second.

              2. Ashiana was quite good, and I have heard many times its best Indian in down. I don't really like Indian food and I would go back, so maybe this will count for something.

                Favorite place for Thai in Houston right now is Thai Cottage on Bissonet (Bellaire).

                Misha

                1. Don't go to Khyber. I have a problem with paying too much for Indian food. Good Indian like any good Asian cuisine should be cheap. Khyber is overpriced. Bombay Brasserie in the strip center at the corner of Richmond and Sage? is good. I've heard really good things about Indika on Memorial, but I have a feeling it goes against what I said earlier about paying too much for Indian food. Also try Shiva in Rice Village on Times.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Josh

                    For Indian, I like Monsoon's lunch buffet on Westheimer near Hwy 6 in west Houston. It is classy, affordable, and fantastic!

                  2. Indika has the best Indian food in the city, hands down. And for Thai, I like Vieng Thai.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: foodpro13

                      I really like Indika but I think this should be qualified as contemporary indian cousine, a little more upper end Indian than what many people first think about when thinking indian food.
                      If you can extend this list to Pakistani then Himmalya is the place IMO.
                      Heritage in Stafford also very good Indian.

                      1. re: jscarbor

                        True, but if someone asked for recommendations about Italian food, let's say, one would quickly recommend Da Marco even though its more "upper end" than a neighborhood italian joint. I think there tends to be a belief that Asian restaurants somehow lose their authenticity when they go upscale, which isn't necessarily the case. I do agree with you about Himalaya though, it's one of my favorite restaurants in town.

                        1. re: foodpro13

                          Yeah but Indika is not traditional indian, it is good. Also, unless it has changed it has the worst naan I have ever had which is odd since the owner is a pastry chef.

                          1. re: jscarbor

                            I must inject,,, Indika's naan in my opinion the best in the city and Anita can explain why its different than most if not all naan found in Houston. Add to it her cilantro chutney and man, you're in business! Anita's stint at Cafe Annie's before she opened Indika's doesn't really tell the whole story behind the pastry chef gig. It did however add incentive to launch her career as a chef and business owner that has been written up favorably from the ny times to Bon A! I've gone to many of Anita's cooking classes at Indika's and found her kitchen spotless, well organized, the ingredients used are low in fat content. If you want the heavy butter chicken, dry Tandoor meats and thick saag paneer that many Houston residents are fond of (especially whats served up at typical lunch buffet stops for less than $10 bucks),, this is not your place! Her menu items are based on traditional family meals believe it or not with a little added flair of her own. The restaruant is packed at lunch and dinner time. Warning,, she goes heavy on the Serrano pepper (jalapenos are for the meek) so be prepared for heat with many of the dishes. Engage Anita in coversation! She a beautiful person!

                            It might be fun to have a Houston Chowhound Cooking Class at Indika's one Sunday for everyone interested in learning more of Indian Cuisine. Anyone up for that?

                            See www.indikausa.com for menu and hours of operation!

                            I would also highly recommend Kiran's Restaurant on Westheimer. She too has the same passion for serving some of the best Indian food in the city. Spotless, over the top waitstaff and the restaurant defines "customer delight".

                            1. re: bornie

                              I want people to know that my experience with Indika was very positive. I really like the place. I just think there should be a qualification when suggsting Indika in case someone was looking for a cheaper version of indian food. Its kinf of like reccomending Hugo's when someone asks for mexican. I would hate to go there thinking I was getting a $10 plate tex mex joint then finding out it is much more. That being said I think Indika is worth the money, its not over the top expensive.
                              I'll have to try the naan again soon, I thought it was aweful. From what I remember it was a very flat, no structure to it with some spices/herbs cooked in that I thought were not neccessary since there is plenty of spice in the food.

                    2. Udipi Cafe on Hillcroft gets stellar reviews from a Houston restaurant guide I have called 'Fearless Critic' (written by undercover chefs & critics). I plan on eating @ Udipi soon, and making my own opinion. Its south Indian cuisine, and all vegetarian, so if you want meat - go elsewhere. Other than that, I might add that London Sizzler might be another one to try and research (Also Hillcroft area) - its not all vegetarian either - and sounds way cool. Edited to add the web site for London Sizzler, looks great:

                      http://www.londonsizzler.com/

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: geegeeTX

                        I'm not a big fan of London Sizzler, but Udipi Cafe is really good. Even better in my opinion is Sabri Nihari, just down the street. Their signature dish, Beef Nihari, is killer.

                        1. re: geegeeTX

                          i second the recommendation for udipi. excellent vegetarian fare, tasty and filling, for even those who like LOTS of meat. as for indika, i was expecting indian food when i went, so did not enjoy my experience as much. I agree with jscarbor that it is in a separate category, being inventive and non-traditional (see Tabla in NYC for example). Although inventive cuisine is coming to Bangalore so perhaps "traditional" Indian will be changing soon (see gourmet.com's 5 Jun 08 "tampering with tradition" http://www.gourmet.com/travel/2008/06...)

                        2. himalaya for indo-pak. biryanis, masalas, naan all very good.
                          vieng thai for thai. asia market has a great pad kee mao.

                          and i agree with jscarbor that lotus of siam doesn't come close to thai in houston. one of the best meals of my life there.

                          1. I wanted to second the recommendation for Indika. If you're looking for a more traditional (read, heavy) North Indian meal, I would recommend Gourmet India (way out at Westheimer and Synott). It's well worth the trek, and, in my opinion, far, far better than Kiran's.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: meellerbee

                              I just can't agree about Indika. I LOVED it when it was out at its old Memorial location. But in the couple times I've been there since it moved to the Montrose area, the flavors haven't worked as well, and the textures are at times leaden. It's very disappointing. Maybe Anita can whip it back into its former shape but, for me, the luster is gone. Too bad.

                              1. re: m.elon

                                m.elon: where would you recommend (I'm a bit new to town and wouldn't mind a recommendation or two or three)?

                            2. So here are my recommendations:
                              Khyber - a fun place to dine, especially because the owner that regularly makes fun of the Pappa's restaurants on either side of him via his sign out front also serves food in the dining room. He's a riot and makes it fun, plus, it's pretty darn good.
                              Indika - a great upscale Indian experience, and many dishes are S-P-I-C-Y. Love it. The creativity is what's fun there.
                              Himalaya - Hillcroft & 59. It's not the most posh place to eat, but the food is amazing (try the fish) and the naan is just as good.
                              London Sizzler - I love this place. Also same shopping center as Himalaya. Try the malai kofta (vegetable dumplings) here. This is UK style Indian, and they do a lot of tandoori too. It's not super traditional, so sometimes it gets a bad rap.
                              Before dining at either London Sizzler or Himalaya, make sure to take a trip to India Grocers (in the same strip center) and get yourself some Indian spices & food. They are so nice in there and it's fun to look around.
                              Bombay Brasserie is good, and they just opened up a second location on 610 near the Galleria. It's a nice place (at least the one in Rice Village), not as expensive as Indika, and the quality is consistent.

                              As for Thai, I like Kanamowan, Mai Thai, & Thai Cottage. Ok, so Thai Cottage is a chain, but I've always had good luck with their curries. They are tasty!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: katiedid710

                                Himalaya is fabulous. Everything I've had there is excellent. I agree that the ambiance is lacking, but that's not why you go to eat there. It's just delicious Pakistani food. London Sizzler is alright - interesting for the Anglo spin.

                                1. re: m.elon

                                  London Sizzler is my favorite, but I don't know about the Anglo spin. We are always the only Anglos there. Last weekend we had a great mogo special (among other things). It was very spicy with onions and jalapenos, so darn tasty. My DH is the vindaloo king and he has declared it the best he's had. The place was chock-a-block with families with energetic kids for Sunday lunch. For Anglicized Indian food, I like Red Lion's tikka masala.

                                  1. re: Lambowner

                                    Agree that the Red Lion tikka masala is good Anglicized Indian. Also, I have really enjoyed the Queen Vic-- had a great pork vindaloo there a few months ago that I still think about. Have not been to London Sizzler (it's been on the list for ages), but have been to Himalaya. It was good for sure. It gets so warm, though, which I find unappealing in summer months, no matter how good the food is.

                              2. Try Kiran's 4100 Westheimer (inside the Loop). It has a very elegant atmosphere and wonderful food. The naan bread is delicious.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: htown_foodie

                                  Have to disagree about Kiran's. Food is awful. I like Bhojan. The locale is a bit, one might say, different (the Southwest Inn off of 59 & Bellaire), but the food is spectacular (Gujrati, all vegetarian). I'm also a very big fan of Maharaja Bhog.

                                  1. re: meellerbee

                                    I'd kinda like to see a bump on this thread and some updated Indian recs. Actually, we enjoyed the restaurant week supper at Kiran's and have really liked Pondicheri on Kirby. I don't consider myself knowlegable about Indian cuisine and would appreciate some thoughts...

                                    1. re: specktaker

                                      Kiran's might please someone who is new to Indian cuisine but the food there is overpriced and underspiced. Many of the holes in the wall on Hillcroft near route 59 offer more authentic and cheaper fare. One such place is the Pakistani jewel Sabri Nihari. Now Indika is the real deal and I love their vegetable curries. It is not a hole in the wall and it is not a typical Indian restaurant. SOme of the dishes are fusiony and the prices are high and decor is chic/austere/almost Moroccan. Khyber Pass is abysmal.

                                2. I suggest India Café (near Katy Mills mall) for the best saag paneer and chicken tikka out there in Houston!!! This place rocks and it doesn’t cost that much either…you must check it out…the masala dosa and tandoori dishes are amazing aswell!! 2002 Fry Road
                                  Houston, TX 77084

                                  1. Bump: here are my favorites.

                                    Pure vegetarian restaurants:

                                    1. Bhojan: By far my favorite restaurant in Houston because there is almost nothing else like it in the U.S. They specialize in Gujrati vegetarian fair. This is not your typical north Indian restaurant. They are Buffet only for about $13. Everything is fresh and tasty. Because they don't offer the traditional Punjabi fair, they will not have naan, curries or saag/paalak paneer. They also do not use any onions or garlic in their dishes. My favorite dish by far is the Toovar Daal.

                                    Bhojan
                                    http://www.bohjanusa.com
                                    6855 Southwest Freeway
                                    Houston, TX 77074
                                    713 777 6900
                                    In the Southwest Inn off of 59 & Bellaire
                                    http://www.bhojanusa.com

                                    2. Maharaja Bhog: Another non-North Indian/non-Punjabi fare restaurant. They specialize in Rajasthani food. Very tasty and very unique. They can prepare their dishes without onions and garlic for anyone who is Jain. Again, they will not have traditional Punjabi fare such as saag paneer and naan. Try the Ker Sangri for a true Rajasthani delight.

                                    Maharaja Bhog
                                    8338 , South West Free-way ,
                                    Houston , Texas - 77074
                                    http://www.maharajabhog.com
                                    (Warning: the website will play some awful music that you can't turn off

                                    )

                                    3. Shiv Sagar: All South Indian fare. Great crispy dosas and rasam. They do have some Jain dishes. They are very light on the vegetable options. The interior and decor may remind you of McDonald's, but the price is also inexpensive.

                                    Shiv Sagar
                                    6662 Southwest Freeway
                                    Houston, TX 77074
                                    (713) 977-0150
                                    Off of 59 & Hillcroft (NW Corner)

                                    Veg./Non-veg

                                    1. Gourmet India: way out in Westchase, this place is where you want to go if you like the traditional Houston/Punjabi fare. Amazing saag paneer and naan. The Owner, Ajoy Bhattachariya, is very nice and personable and comes from the old Bombay Palace. It's a bit of a trek, but well worth it. They can prepare any of there dishes without onion and garlic (again for the Jains out there). The shopping strip it's in isn't great, but the interior is fine and you can have a very fine meal there.

                                    Gourmet India
                                    13155 Westheimer Road #140
                                    Houston, TX 77077
                                    (281) 493-5435
                                    On Westheimer between Eldridge and Synott
                                    http://www.gourmetindiahouston.com

                                    2. Pondicheri/Indika: These two restaurants are both owned by Antiaben Jaisinghani. They offer fusion bombay food with an upscale twist on Bombay street food. You can find some Punjabi dishes there, but very few and far between. My favorite at Pondicheri is the Chocolate Chili Cookie and the Quinoa Khichri (the r is a retroflex r with a tongue flap, so you pronounce it more like a "d").

                                    Pondicheri Cafe
                                    In the West Ave. shopping Center at westheimer and Kirby
                                    B132, 2800 Kirby Drive
                                    Houston, TX 77098
                                    (713) 522-2022

                                    Indika
                                    516 Westheimer Road
                                    Houston, TX 77006
                                    (713) 524-2170
                                    Close to Westheimer and Montrose

                                    Other places to try in case these are too far out of the way or you are in a pinch:

                                    1. Shiva's (Rice Village
                                    )2. Any place on Hillcroft is an adventure

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: meellerbee

                                      Very nice list. Thanks. Looking to do Gourmet India, Indika and Shivas to start as we are non-veg. Indian friends have strongly recommended London Sizzler as well.

                                      1. re: specktaker

                                        I am not super snooty about Indian food by any means, but I am not a huge fan of Shiva's. IMO, it's okay and will do in a pinch, but if you have choices I would suggest heading elsewhere first.

                                        All the veg places are on my list to try, and hopefully I'll get there soon. My husband likes, but doesn't love, Indian food, so it's not in the rotation extremely often.