Top 5: Indian Restaurants

Categories: Top Five

mogul.jpg
Dawn W. Simmons
Mogul.
After naming a Southern Indian eatery as my top vegetarian-friendly restaurant pick, I started to think about what makes an Indian restaurant good. I'm a huge fan of bread, so fresh, golden bubbly naan is always important, as are creamy paneer, high-quality meats, perfectly seasoned curries, and crispy samosas. A good lunch buffet and equally satisfying dinner menu are significant qualifications if you're going to be ranked as one of the best. With these thoughts in mind, here are my favorite spots to chow down on one of my favorite cuisines.

5. Mogul
While attending classes in Clear Lake last year, I became fascinated by Mogul's. My first time in was for dinner, and I was impressed by this quaint spot hidden behind a Jack-in-the-Box. I stuffed myself full of naan and raita and feasted on various vegetable options. After that I explored the lunch buffet, which was filled with surprisingly spicy offerings. They changed up the buffet line offerings regularly, and I never got tired of noshing on mini samosas, green beans, and poached paneer in velvety curry sauce.

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Greenway Barista
Udipi.
4. Udipi Café
With several locations in Houston (and even one in Dallas), Udipi is an excellent choice for a fast, cheap vegetarian lunch buffet. The navratan korma, bursting with fresh vegetables and spices, is always a favorite dish, as is the palak paneer. And although I prefer to visit when I can gorge myself on all the buffet dishes for under $10, I also like to get dishes to take out and enjoy at home.

kiran1.jpg
Kiran's
Kiran's.
3. Kiran's
Chef Kiran Verma is doing some pretty interesting stuff with traditional Indian spices and flavors. Take, for instance, her riff on Duck a L'Orange cooked in a tandoori oven and served with a ginger-spiked orange sauce. The luscious, never overcooked lobster tail served with a honeyed garlic butter is another favorite. With a large selection of items appealing to vegetarians and omnivores alike, Kiran's is an excellent place to take diners new to the Indian scene.

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Jeff Balke
Shri Balaji Bhavan
2. Shri Balaji Bhavan
A multiple Best of Houston winner for Best Indian Restaurant, this inexpensive strip-center vegetarian gem stays busy from lunch through dinner. And it's easy to see why once you taste the authentically prepared and deliciously spiced Southern Indian delicacies such as the dal, lentil-flour dosas, and fat samosas. So good.

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Geri Maria Harris
Indika.
1. Indika
When I had the chance to do a chef chat with chef/owner Anita Jaisinghani, I found out that she takes a lot of pride in her food, making sure that everything is perfectly prepared and sourced from the best possible places. You can taste it in everything from the crispy crabmeat samosas to the mildly spiced snapper. And if you haven't experienced Sunday brunch, you must go at once, if only to sample some of the best coconut pancakes in town. If I had to choose my top 5 restaurants of all time, Indika might still top the list. Yes, it's Indian cuisine, but more than that, it's just amazing food.



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Location Info

Mogul

1055 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Udipi

5959 Hillcroft St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kiran's Restaurant and Bar

4100 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Shri Balaji Bhavan Pure Vegetarian Restaurant

5655 Hillcroft St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Indika

516 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
43 comments
Pardeep kumar
Pardeep kumar

i am pani puri chaat and sweet chaf i am indian i warking singapore my expirians15 eyar

ec
ec

Not sure I'd call Indika Indian. Mogul on the other hand is the real Patel.

Julieboyd
Julieboyd

How can you leave out Pavani?

Randy
Randy

My favorite on Hillcroft is the original Raja Sweets! No one can beat their prices...quantity...and quick service!

Doc Ricky
Doc Ricky

Fascinating that Indian cuisine is so judged in Houston by a de rigeur buffet. Not by the care of a chaat presentation. I personally see the skill of the Indian chef in the tricky delivery of a pani puri or dahi puri or dhokla.

Ted Stickles
Ted Stickles

The trick to getting good service at Shiva is to go there with your sexy Indian girlfriend. That way the service is great because the owner keeps coming over to try to flirt with her. And to wonder what a beautiful maharani such as herself is doing with a Wonderbread white guy.

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

So many good memories at Mogul. I got engaged there in 2006. Didn't work out, but it's still my fave Indian place.

cheetohead
cheetohead

yes, Indika is very good. And it was better before it moved to lower Westheimer. But it is not Indian in the "traditional" or Westernized sense. So it should have somewhat of an asterisk in the context of this list.

CL91
CL91

So glad to see Indika atop this list. The food is always phenomenal, and the atmosphere is great. I feel like a lot of these lists sometimes give the #1 spot to an "underdog" out of either trying to show how cultured the author is, or whatever (though I'm sure the selection is always great). Indika, though, is in my opinion the absolute best, sure it's more expensive than pretty much every other Indian restaurant in town, but the idiom "You get what you pay for" is more true than most want to admit.

Nice change of pace to see an institution win something, if that makes any sense!

GatesmanGt
GatesmanGt

Is Shiva in the Village worth a trip anymore?

Gilkysen
Gilkysen

Has anyone tried the new Sher-e-Punjab restaurant on Westheimer near Dairy Ashford?

I've noticed the ads on this site and they make my mouth water. Next time I'm out west, I'm going to try them or Gourmet India (remember the manager at Bombay Palace? that's his place)

CaledoniaMM
CaledoniaMM

A perpetually under-reported and always full place is India's on Richmond. High quality ingredients, varying spice levels and fairly priced. Good buffet and ala carte items.

Jamison88
Jamison88

Think the Hillcroft / Mathama Gandhi district restaurants offer the best value and most exciting excursion for tasting multiple styles of Indian cooking.

mfsmit
mfsmit

I was at Indika Saturday before last and was kind of shocked to see it so sparsely occupied. Hope it was just an effect of the Final Four being that night. Food was still outrageously good, though.

Jodycakes
Jodycakes

And at lunchtime, udipi gives you your choice of fresh dosa.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Awesome list. Just awesome. I always like to see Udipi and Shri getting love. :D

RogerDeMaris
RogerDeMaris

rather easily, since it's been closed a while

Happy
Happy

I agree Randy, I've been going to that place since 1990 and they still have the best food in town. They recently added butter chicken to the menu and it's to die for!

Also check out their samosas and gulab jamans! We always get our Monthly meetings catered by them.

VanDykstrom
VanDykstrom

which points in the article do you agree with, or reject?

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

Find me a one restaurant in town where the chef knows how to throw a real roti prata Singapore style and I'll be there tomorrow for lunch!

CL91
CL91

You know what I mean though. Since a lot of the dishes are heavily sauce-based, it's one of the few categories of food that can appear on a buffet and retain most of its quality. Not to say I don't prefer to get dinner at an Indian place ordering individual dishes.

When that stops being a main feature of Indian restaurants, they will stop being judged with that as the baseline.

Blake
Blake

Forever alon, with a south Asian twist

Celestebea
Celestebea

I think Indika is *fractionally* Indian, as is Pondicheri. Most Indian restaurant operators would call it that as well, and I know many who scoffed when Robb Walsh named it Houston's 'Best Indian' year after year.

Geri Harris
Geri Harris

The food is slightly above average most of the time, but the service is so severely lacking, I can't bring myself to go there much anymore.

Bierce10
Bierce10

I went there with the coupon a few weeks ago. They have a small, but good buffet. I'll definitely go back, but I'll probably order off the menu.

Laurie
Laurie

Indias does a great buffet. Also sadly missing is Narin's. The customer service at Indian restaurants is always more on the polite, but not friendly side, but the Narins folks really go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

Dunstan11
Dunstan11

she'll be largely shifting her client base to her new place, Pondicheri...instead of getting new clientele.

GMH
GMH

Yes I had one Friday. Delicious!

Darcyrifordrd
Darcyrifordrd

Hey, don't forget The Moghul's! Donald Trump eats there when he's in Houston firing people.

KendrickShiv
KendrickShiv

Maybe this part?

'A recent article by Vir Sanghvi, India’s most influential food critic sparked off this storm in a curry pot. The conclusion of his lengthy article in Brunch magazine was that "No cuisine can advance on the basis of food made for foreigners, so the real evolution must happen in India and it must appeal to Indians."

guest
guest

Indika is slipping. When they first started they were perhaps the best in the country. Anita was always there and it was fresh and imaginative. Now it seems lazier in terms of new items on the menu, liberal use of grease, and smaller portions. In the Michelin system they automatically remove a star when the chef opens a new restaurant. I am afraid the new one may sink them if they don't tend to their flagship.

CL91
CL91

True, it's definitely not "traditional" Indian, but it's definitely Indian. Every dish on the menu is either Indian, or heavily influenced by more "traditional" dishes. It's the new takes on classic flavors, ingredients and recipes that I love about Indika.

There are dozens of places you can go and get the lunch buffet with your standard basmati, naan, saag paneer, chicken tikka, tandoori ___, vegetable korma, raitha etc etc. And they all are usually pretty similar in quality - good. There's nothing wrong with those, and I enjoy them frequently, but if you're going to make a "Top 5" list, shouldn't those kind of be considered the baseline, and anything that rises above that needs to offer something in addition. So new twists, exceptional flavor, atmosphere, something to set it apart.

It's like saying that a "#1" burger place shouldn't be called a true burger place because they serve a burger with caramelized onions, smoked Gouda and chipotle mayonnaise or something.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

It was too late to make last week's Openings & Closings, but The Moghul's is now closed. Can't say any of us are surprised.

Bruce R
Bruce R

But foreigners brought India vindaloo, tikki masala, and chicken 65.

cheetohead
cheetohead

comparing Indika to the typical Indian buffet places is apples and oranges, which is probably the point being made. it would be like doing a Top 5 pub food list and putting Feast on the top.

Jennilangusto
Jennilangusto

Not exactly with the onion and burger thing...it would be more like calling a Cajun place here French.

Theodoricyork
Theodoricyork

That's incorrect.

How much life they still have in them is a burning topic, however.

Aghastronome
Aghastronome

I went in search of an Indian buffet in Westchase last weel. The Moghul's was completely deserted (plus, after reading your review, I was loathe to attempt it), ended up going to Mumbai Spice, which was excellent.

Darcyrifordrd
Darcyrifordrd

Don't think that is correct, though it has been rumored....

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