Indian food is a delicacy and if cooked correctly, can push your palate into a whole new world. Whether it’s off the beaten path or standing tall in the trendy Galleria area, there are many good restaurants to choose from in Houston. Indika has been a popular restaurant in the Houston area for a long time and continues to bring in rave reviews. The classy Kiran's restaurant is sure to "wow" your date with its spectacular menu, ambiance and service. And, if meat isn’t your thing, Udipi Café specializes in vegetarian cuisine. Indian food can be prepared from mild to volcanic, so make sure you specify the amount of heat your tongue can take! Raita, a whole-milk yogurt mixed with cucumber and carrots, is recommended to soothe the palate against spicier dishes. Eating Poppadoms, which is a wafer-thin Indian bread seasoned with spices like cumin and pepper with select sauces for an appetizer at an Indian restaurant is similar to eating tortilla chips and salsa at a Mexican joint. If offered, mint sauces are good for digestion prior to eating a big Indian meal and is generally served with poppadoms.
Houston offers an array of restaurant choices from casual to classy, from traditional menu to exotic and from curry to pizza. Yes, pizza. So, if you haven't tried Indian food, don't shy away from what Houston has to offer. The choices for reasonably priced, authentic, Indian-styled food are pretty awesome!
London Sizzler Indian Bar & Grill
If you are looking for a British Indian flare to your fare, the London Sizzler Indian Bar & Grill is the one to choose. The restaurant features fresh tandoori dishes, curries, and sizzling platters, which are prepared with regional ingredients, passed down from family members. The menu also leans towards Indo-Chinese and African flavors, too. The menu is pretty extensive and reasonably priced, offering vegan dishes, traditional curries, and exotic combinations such as the Pili Pili, which is an African influenced dish of sizzling extra spicy chicken. Hand rolled Manchurian dumplings, goat curries, and Mom's Masala are specialty items featured on the menu and they recommend that you tell the waiter your "spice level" when you order. Indian can be prepared with mild spices or severely volcanic, so make sure you are ready to sweat, if you dare to go with a spicy vindaloo or the hottest curry offered, which is called a phall.
The London Sizzler has taken the time to create a traditional beer, wine and cocktail menu, so if you are in the mood for a Corona, Bloody Mary or glass of wine from Napa Valley, don't fret, they are prepared to provide an extensive beverage selection. Happy Hour is offered Tuesday to Thursday from 5pm-7pm and Friday from 12pm-7pm. ((713) 783-2754)
Previously known as Krishna Chaat House, Udipi Cafe offers multiple locations, reasonable prices and tasty vegetarian dishes. This restaurant is a good starting point for anyone who is interested in tasting good Indian curry for the first time, unless you are a die-hard meat fan. Updipi Cafe is a vegan restaurant, serving quick, hot, and inexpensive traditional dishes. They feature a Superb Daily Buffet from 11am-3pm and an extensive menu of curries, soups, rice specialties, low-calorie selections and fresh breads. The prices are more than reasonable and the food is delivered hot with a smile. Upon request, their dishes can be prepared mild to hot and for those in the know, their combination plates are a good choice, if you want to sample several recipes. This is a cozy, casual and quiet restaurant, suitable for business lunches or date-night dinners. Chaat simply means vegetarian, and the menu is derived from the Hindustan culture. The entrees portions are generous and can be shared within your party. Visit the website for more locations. ((713) 334-5555, (281) 914-2716)
Owner, Anita Jaisinghani, formerly at the helm of Indika, has brought the flavors of her native Sindh culture and blended them with local Texas ingredients to bring Houston a new, organic approach to the Indian restaurant scene. Pondicheri Café restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring a diverse menu full of fresh ingredients from local farmers. Breakfast and lunch are served via counter service but everyone enjoys table service for dinner. A signature starter is the Papdi Chaat prepared with semolina crackers, lentil dumplings & moong sprouts drizzled with yogurt, cilantro & tamarind chutneys. An interesting entrée featured on the lunch and dinner menu is the Sayel Lamb, which is a Sindhi style leg of lamb that is slow-cooked with onions, yogurt, turnips & butternut squash. They even offer a kid's meal called Tuk Tuk Thali for children under 12, who enjoy an organic chicken kebab, fresh fruit, spinach, rice, desi fries (potatoes dusted with garam masala spice) for dessert, an elephant cookie!
Raw and organic, the food prepared by the culinary team at Pondicheri is literally made-from-scratch. With hand-ground meat and spices, yeast starters prepped for fresh baked goods, farm-fresh eggs purchased from Weimar, TX and eco-friendly to-go containers called "tiffins," where the food is packed hot inside a stainless steel vessel for convenient carry-out, Pondicheri gets a super green "thumbs up" for its dedication to applying a clean carbon footprint to the restaurant scene in Houston. ((713) 522-2022)
Mint Spice Bistro, M Lounge, & Sugar Land Social Club
The Mint Bistro isn't your typical Indian restaurant. Expect a blending of Indian, Szechwan, and Cantonese flavors on the menu. For die-hard Indian food lovers, there may be a disappointment after dining at the Mint, but overall is definitely worth trying if you are in the mood for variety. Traditional recipes include: fan favorites of tandoori, chicken Korma, Jalfrezi and Tikka Masala. The Indo-Chinese selection features the Sweet & Sour Chicken made with a Cantonese recipe and Hakka Noodles sauteeed with chilies and soy sauce. The menu is quite eclectic versus a more traditional style Indian restaurant, so even those who don't particularly like Indian food might be able to find something to eat. The dessert menu isn't Indian-specific either, the Mint Bistro offers Cr�me Brulee Trio merging flavors of mint, saffron and chai tea and a rich, flourless carrot cake with cinnamon ice cream. One of the more interesting desserts is the Gulab Jamun Milk waffle balls served in a saffron cardamom rose syrup! ((281) 242-1212)
Locals flock to this incredible Indian restaurant for the generous lunch buffet and tantalizing dinner menu. Perfectly fried samosas make a perfect starter, and classic entree options like tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, saag paneer and eggplant bharta promise to please. For dessert, patrons can opt for kheer or the daily ice cream. Those hoping to sample a variety of dishes love the buffet, which features more than a dozen hot and cold items. (713-266-0131)
Shri Balaji Bhavan
Specializing in authentic Southern Indian cuisine, this beloved hole-in-the-wall is all about flavor. The casual eatery offers an impressive all-vegetarian menu complete with popular dishes like samosa chaat, madras thali, rava masala dosa, ragata pattie and bhel poori. Most items have a significant spice factor, but patrons can temper the heat with a cool, creamy mango lassi. All dishes are made-to-order, and the result is well worth your wait. (713-783-1126)
The Bombay Pizza Co.
If you merge an Italian pizza with Indian flavors what do you get? The Bombay Pizza Co., which offers a unique spin on pizza. Pizza flavors like, Tandoori Chicken, Mitul's Masala and Gateway to India are big hits with fans of the parlor. They also serve pasta, mini-burgers, soups and salads. "Street food" options are available too, offering Kati Rolls that originated in Calcutta over a century ago. And if you want to choose something completely different, why not order a Berry Bombay? This pizza has strawberries, crushed tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, fresh basil, two kinds of cheese and balsamic vinegar. Too crazy for your tongue? Well, then just choose a "Create Your Own" version and pick your favorite toppings. (713-654-4444)
Shiva Indian Restaurant
An award winning restaurant, the Shiva Indian Restaurant has been a staple in the Houston community for over 20 years. Moderately priced, traditional classics such as Saag Paneer, Vindaloo, Tikka Masala and Gobi Aloo are listed on the menu, along with Chef's suggestions such as, Rani Dil Pasand, which is a 9-course meal for $13.95. There are two locations for Shiva-lovers: one in Sugarland and the other in Rice Village on Times Blvd. Those craving Indian food without the flash come to Shiva. Those craving quality Indian food come to Shiva. Those who want to spend a little money on a great meal? Come to Shiva. (713-523-4753)
If you are wondering where to go for progressive Indian food head to Montrose and dine at the Indika restaurant. Mouth-watering cuisine is served for lunch and dinner with specialty fusion items such as the sweet potato samosas, roasted eggplant stuffed with cashews but they still offer traditional favorites such as, Chicken Tikka. On Sundays, Indika serves a Brunch from 10:30am-2:30pm. And, no one goes away hungry. Ever tried Goat Masala? How about Lamb pizza? The freshest ingredients are used to fuse these ingredients together. (713-524-2170)
Simply put: Kiran's of Houston put a new spin on Indian food. The acclaimed, fine dining Indian restaurant features fresh ingredients, authentic recipes and classically prepared Indian dishes. The owner, Kiran Verma, has paid attention to every detail, evoking quality service with a personalized touch and gracious attention for every guest. Meticulous care has been placed into creating classics like, Chicken Tikka Masala, Naan bread and Saag Gobi. (If you are new to the curry scene, those are some of the more popular dishes!) Chef Kiran's menu offers unique flair to the fare creating signature dishes with seafood, steaks and chicken, such as, Chilean Sea Bass with Mango Chutney, Lobster Tail, and Porterhouse steak. The ethnic dishes fused with American favorites appeal to every palate. Kiran's wine list offers vintage selections and impressive choices. The dining room has rich red decor, fine linens, and comfortable upholstered chairs giving it an upscale feel with remarkable service. In a hurry? Grab a take out! (713-960-8472)
About Heather J. Taylor
Heather J. Taylor grew up an “Army Brat” with her family roots deeply grounded in Texas. When she was twenty, she moved to London on scholarship to study performing arts at Regent's College and The Poor School of Acting. She worked oversea in marketing and public relations while continuing to build her entertainment career.
After returning to the States, Heather worked in film production as a casting director, make-up artist and producer. She founded the City Lights Studio for Actors in Savannah, GA and won numerous awards as a theatre director. In 2001, she moved to Los Angeles and appeared on Comedy Central, A&E Biography and worked on films including, “Kings of the Evening.”
Heather's writing has been published internationally in all forms of media and she's an avid photographer. The “Army Brat” with Texas roots now continues her odyssey in Houston, always searching for a unique experience or an outrageous encounter that she can explore to the core.
Read more about Heather J. Taylor here.