The Best Indian & Pakistani Restaurants in LA
From a thali spot in Artesia to a sweets shop worth driving hours for, these are our 17 favorite Indian restaurants in the city.
There will be times when you feel a void in your life that can only be filled by dosas, lamb bhuna, aloo gobi, and paratha. You might experience this once a month, or it might be a thing that happens every time you wake up, get out of bed, and give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. Either way, here's a guide that you'll find essential. It has our 17 favorite Indian and Pakistani restaurants all around LA.
photo credit: Yasara Gunawardena
This maximalist Indian-Italian fusion sports bar offers stimulation with a capital S. There are three giant flatscreen TVs on each wall showing any sporting match you could imagine and the dining room uses mid-century modern furniture and neon lights in a way that reminds us of a vintage arcade. Plus, the food is just fun. Thin-crust pizzas come topped with saag gravy, stinger chiles, or baingan jawa fry, a deep-fried eggplant dish made with mustard oil. Wings are doused in masala and Kashmiri red chilis. And our favorite is a wonderful pasta—cheese and shells, brimming with saffron, parmesan, and Indian long pepper. The hit-filled menu and buzzy energy here made Pijja Palace one of our Best New Restaurants of 2022.
photo credit: Nikko Duren
Half-dessert shop, half-restaurant in Canoga Park, Baba Sweets is well known among the SFV Indian community and the most serious of Indian food enthusiasts. The casual, steam-table spot has served some of the best Punjabi food in the San Fernando Valley for over two decades, and should be a mandatory stop whenever you’re in the area. Swing by for their slow-stewed saag, bowls of spicy chloe bhature, and hot-from-the-tandoor garlic naan served on a paper plate. Finish your meal off with a soft, sweet gulab jamun and a complimentary cup of their chai, in all its cinnamon-y, vanilla-y glory.
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photo credit: Stan Lee
Bhanu's Indian Grocery & Cuisine
Bhanu’s is a family-run Indian grocery store in San Gabriel with a tiny counter in the back that cranks out tremendous Northern and Southern Indian food. There’s a tall partition between the restaurant and the spice market, so just remember to turn left when you enter and one of their hosts will get you seated. You can order anything a la carte, but we prefer the thali plate (which comes with an entree, two sides, yogurt, rice, and garlic naan). Standout dishes include their incredibly spicy lamb vindaloo, smoky tandoori chicken, and basil-coated naan bread.
photo credit: Kim Fox
This South Indian restaurant is our favorite kind-of-fancy, sit-down spot in Artesia’s Little India. The waiters wear button-downs, there’s a water feature near the entrance, and the big round tables are set with elaborate colorful menus. While Podi specializes in crispy dosa flavored with fragrant spice blends, everything from the spicy Chettinad goat curry to the Amaravathi biryani is flat-out delicious. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily, but keep in mind that the wait times can be well over two hours on weekends.
Few things unite Angelenos more than the dread of going to LAX. But if there’s one thing that helps us stomach the arrivals loop, it’s the prospect of eating at Al Noor before or after. The bare-bones dining room in Lawndale doesn’t have much in the way of ambiance, but once the food starts hitting the table, your eyes will only be focused on the feast in front of you. They excel at dishes like lamb qorma, palak paneer, and puffy garlic naan—many of which are front and center on most Pakistani restaurant menus in LA. But at Al Noor, it’s like you’re eating them for the first time.
Badmaash is LA’s original Indian gastropub, a place best known for more-is-more fusion dishes like chicken tikka poutine and chili cheese naan. There’s two locations—one in DTLA and the other on Fairfax—where you can have a fun group dinner and fill up on some of the most unique Indian food you can get around town. Don’t skip the Punjabi fish fry coated in dried mango dust, or the coconut curry mussels soaked in a bright yellow sauce that taste like a makeout session between a sack of turmeric and a bag of limes. Although this place is popular, you can still casually walk right in on a weeknight and be seated without much of a wait.
Biriyani Kabob House
Hidden in a cramped strip mall on the eastern edge of Koreatown, Biryani Kebab House is home to Pakistani and Bangladeshi food that’s so good we’ve deemed it one of the best restaurants in LA, period. You’ll want the Hyderabadi lamb biryani, an aromatic plate of basmati rice laced with spices that comes with lamb shank the size of a football. Curries, filled with cardamom, turmeric, and ginger arrive with pillow-like, house-baked naan. A meal here is an excellent way to eat your way through South Asia, a healthy mix of beef nihari, seekh kabobs, and the owner’s favorite biryanis.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
As you can probably tell from the name, you should order paratha here. This small, counter-service spot in Artesia serves 12 different kinds of buttery flatbreads stuffed with things like milky paneer, spicy chili, and turmeric-dusted aloo. The flaky whole wheat dough on every paratha comes out golden brown, and for $8, you can add on a large side of curry for dipping. Our top pick is the smoky dal tadka, which smells like a mountain of cinnamon and cardamom, and the juicy dhaba chicken, which is loaded with ginger and garlic. Paratha Grill also has some Indo-Chinese specials on the menu that are pretty great, too.
Zam Zam Market
LA has no shortage of iconic dishes: The Godmother at Bay Cities, Philippe’s French Dip, everything at Mariscos Jalisco. It’s time to add Zam Zam Market’s Karachi-style chicken biryani to the list. The tiny Pakistani market in Hawthorne has a tight menu of excellent dishes like seekh kabobs and tangy chicken karahi, but the biryani will forever be what makes this bare-bones strip mall spot a destination. Spicy, savory, and deeply aromatic—it’s one of the most complex and mind-blowing plates of rice we’ve ever eaten, and the kind of dish that every Angeleno should be required by law to eat at least once.
Al-Watan Halal Tandoori
Located just a few blocks north of Al-Noor (and also Zam Zam Market), Al Watan sits on a very competitive block in Hawthorne. The long-standing Pakistani spot has excellent food all around, but the real standout is their mixed tandoori. Plain and simple, this is the best version in town and once you try it, you’ll wonder why you’ve ever eaten it anywhere else. It’s a steaming plate of chicken and beef that’s been marinated in spices and cooked in a clay oven with mesquite, and comes with a refreshing mint yogurt chutney that pairs perfectly with the smoky, succulent meat.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
Rajdhani Indian Restaurant
This all-you-can-eat South Indian spot will keep your thali tray full until you tap out. Located on the second floor of a busy strip mall in Artesia, this entirely vegetarian restaurant offers a rotating selection of stews, masala curries, and desserts for $26 per person. Keep this place in mind for a big weekday lunch—which ends at 2:45pm—or a weekend dinner feast with friends who are down to sample whatever spice-rich specials the chef brings over. If it’s warm out, grab a seat on their patio which overlooks a crowded stretch of Pioneer Blvd. in Little India.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
Jay Bharat is one of the oldest restaurants in Artesia’s Little India, and one of our favorite spots to spend a quiet afternoon eating thali. These stainless steel platters include several small bowls of rice, dal, sambar, chutney, raita, and vegetable curry. Depending on which thali you order, you’ll get slightly different combinations of sides and your choice of fried bread to go with it. Our favorite is their classic Gujarati thali, which comes with soft roti to rip and dip into creamy yogurts, lentil broths, and fragrant pickles.
photo credit: Kim Fox
If there’s one thing to get at Udupi Palace in Artesia, it’s the paper masala dosa. The crispy, thin South Indian dish is about 3 feet long and shaped like a telescope, so it’s easy to crack off a couple of pieces and share. It comes stuffed with potato masala that you can scoop up and dip into things like coconut chutney, sambar, and milk curd. This is the perfect spot to grab a quick lunch in Little India, which is when the dining room usually fills up, but you could also stop by for a casual weeknight dinner.
Abhiruchi Grill in Culver City is one of those restaurants that you won’t be able to shut up about until at least two people from your social circle try it for themselves. If you’re not already someone who dreams about eating marinated paneer, come here for the Vijayawada paneer biryani, and all of that will change. This massive spot on Venice Blvd. also serves a very special egg paratha, spicy-sour fish pulusu, and a lamb curry with a creamy masala gravy that we’d like to make a staple condiment on our dinner table.
photo credit: The Bombay Frankie Company
The Bombay Frankie Company
Formerly located in a West LA gas station, The Bombay Frankie Company is known for its handheld Indian street food (its official slogan is: “home of the Indian burrito”). As the name suggests, this spot is all about frankies— Mumbai-style wraps stuffed with things like chicken tikka and salmon masala. They’ve now upgraded to a counter-service space at Westfield Culver City, with plenty of seating and a big patio. If you’re just getting one thing, it should be the chicken tikka masala frankie, wrapped in garlic naan and packed with potatoes, cucumber, tomatoes, and a drizzle of mint and tamarind chutneys. The restaurant also does an assortment of naan tacos and frankie bowls, but nothing hits quite like their namesake frankie.
Venice Blvd. in Culver City is home to some of the best South Asian restaurants in LA. Mayura is our favorite of the bunch. This classic specializes in dishes from the Southern state of Kerala like fish curry, cheese uthappam, and avail, a mixed vegetable dish cooked with coconut and curry leaves. The dining room is much larger than it looks on the outside and is filled with long purple tables that are ideal for a family dinner when you know people will be joining at the last minute. There’s also a separate vegetarian section on the menu.
photo credit: Tulsi Indian Eatery
Tulsi Indian Eatery
Tulsi is just a fast-casual restaurant in the same way that a wolverine is just an animal. It’s technically true, but there’s a lot more exciting context than that. This Indian mini-chain has four locations across LA, and it’s officially where you should be getting lunch in DTLA or a quick dinner in Westwood. Their counter-service dining rooms look like a Sweetgreen, but the food here is much more exciting than overdressed kale—Tulsi offers a solid array of Northern, Southern, and Western Indian dishes that almost all cost less than $15. The specialty is their gunpowder masala dosa, filled with soft potatoes dusted in spicy dry chilis and served with lentil-studded sambar. We also love their extensive lassi menu, which has flavors that range from dragon fruit to hibiscus-cotton candy.