There are so many Indian restaurants in NYC that committing to one can feel as daunting as picking a new mattress. That’s why we made this guide. On it, you'll find the 28 best spots in the city to eat dal, tandoori meats, South Indian stews, puri, and more. They include everything from a cafeteria in the bottom of a Hindu temple in Flushing to old-school places in Murray Hill and upscale Midtown spots that are worth your (company’s) money.
Not only is Delhi Heights the best Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights, but it also happens to serve excellent Nepalese momos. In that way, it’s like your admirable friend who goes to the gym all the time but also stays out late every weekend. From the Indian menu, we love the Punjabi-style mustard greens, thin garlicky naan, and spicy lamb bhuna. But no meal at Delhi Heights would be complete without an order of beef and chive momos. These steamed dumplings are easily some of the best in the neighborhood. And, considering the other options for Nepalese dumplings in Jackson Heights, that’s pretty impressive.
From the team behind Dhamaka (also on this list), Semma is an exceptional Indian restaurant that serves South Indian regional specialties in a charming West Village space. Everything on the menu is great, but no meal at Semma would be quite right without a few of the meaty dishes that are harder to find in NYC. We especially love the vat of tender venison drenched gravy that tastes like clove and smoke, as well as the Goanese oxtail. The nearly flawless menu and stylish ambience made Semma one of our Best New Restaurants of 2021.
Dhamaka may be located in a big, bright food hall, but it'll provide one of the most memorable meals of your year. Here, you’ll probably try dishes associated with four or five different regions of India–some of which are virtually impossible to find elsewhere in New York City. You’ll also pay considerably more than you’re used to paying at a food hall (roughly $100 per person, in our experience), but the experience is on par with the team’s other exceptional Indian restaurants, Semma and Adda. Zig-zag from the bright, chutney-kissed seafood to the garam masala-heavy stews and tandoori meats, and don't forget to order the gurda kapoora.
photo credit: David A. Lee
You’ll find some of the best Indian street food in the city waiting for you at a window in Greenwich Village–right when and where you need it most. Thelewala is a fun kati roll and chaat counter open until 2am where you can get something to eat around MacDougal after a late night comedy show. They have habanero chutney chicken phall roll that'll give you the same thrill as a Stephen King novel, but the short chaat menu makes this place worth a visit even if you’re not in the mood for a kati roll. Both the bhel puri and jaal muri are perfect for sneaking into the IFC theater a couple blocks away when you want something more exciting than popcorn.
Kailash Parbat is where you go when you’ve accidentally invited the pickiest eater you know to your group dinner. Their extensive menu has food from almost every region of India–including a few dishes beloved by the diaspora in Singapore–and they do them all well. You’ll find homestyle dishes like Sindhi curry and paneer bhurji, as well as chole bhatura that fulfills all of our fried bread fantasies.
This basement-level cab stand has been selling vegetarian Indian chaat and curries on the north side of Houston Street since the early 1990s. It’s an irreplaceable gem of the East Village, and anyone who lives in the area should come here regularly. Stop by for a samosa chaat, steaming bowls of chana masala, and a brown paper bag filled with crunchy fried pakora. You'll have an incredibly filling meal under $10.
The best Indian place in Queens and maybe all of New York City, Seva 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 want to keep things affordable, you could go for the prix fixe sampler, which includes an appetizer, an entree, and dessert of your choosing—but then you'd be missing out on the beautiful thing that happens when intensely flavorful chicken tikka, lamb saag, and aloo gobi join forces on your plate. Make a reservation, bring friends, and see who can best handle their spice when the lamb vindaloo hits the table.
If you’re not already someone who dreams about eating goat as much as a coyote dreams about eating goat, go to Adda, and all of that will change. This Long Island City spot makes our favorite Indian goat dishes in the city, like a steaming biryani covered in a layer of baked dough and an excellent junglee maas goat curry. You can easily have an amazing sit-down dinner here for under $30, and we think that’s something you should prioritize in the next week or so of your life.
There are a lot of great restaurants in Jersey City’s India Square specializing in Goan, Hyderabadi, and vegetarian Southern Indian food, but Rasoi is our absolute favorite for Northern Indian food. Our approach here is to get a ton of food for a group, like a few orders of puri (the size of rugby balls), the tender, deeply spiced lamb rogan josh, and a platter of various meats and vegetables cooked in a tandoori oven.
The team behind Adda and Rahi (both of which you’ll find on this list) debuted a biryani delivery-only project during the pandemic to bring their dum biryani straight to its loyal fans. Not only will you get the hot and steamy dum biryani with bits of ginger and chunks of meat, but you also get to keep the clay pot it comes in, which you can use to take up more space in your apartment that you don’t have. Whether you want lamb, goat, chicken, or vegetable biryani, pre-order it from Biryani Bol here and pick it up from Adda, Rahi, or The MasalaWala.
If you wander 6th Street in the East Village in search of Indian Food, you’ll feel as overwhelmed as a baby on a cross-town city bus. But the only one you need to pay attention to is Malai Marke. Especially if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian (there are more vegetarian options on this South Indian restaurant’s menu than anywhere else in the area, as well as a full vegan section). So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the vegetarian dishes should be your focus here, even if you’re a meat-eater. We like the creamy chana masala and the vindaloo from the “spicy club” section.
Most vegetable biryanis we’ve tried in NYC taste like they’re missing meat—but not the one at Om on 2nd Avenue on the UES. It comes out scorching hot and has enough cauliflower, peppers, and carrots to be a whole meal. Beyond the biryani, we love this place because there are always tables available, and you’ll inevitably have leftovers you can save for lunch the next day. This is a great spot to remember for a relaxed weeknight date or a meal with your family.
Ganesh Temple Canteen
A South Indian cafeteria below a Hindu Temple in Flushing, Temple Canteen is well known among the Indian community and the most serious of Indian food enthusiasts. Originally the food here was just made as an offering to the gods, but now it’s an offering to you, too. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, and you won’t find better dosas in town. On your way out, make sure to peruse the gift shop.
You’ll find some of the very best tandoori chicken in NYC at Dhaba, a Punjabi spot in Murray Hill. You wouldn’t be making a bad decision by eating tikka masala or biryani here during the lunch buffet, but you should prioritize dinner and focus your attention on the tandoor section of the menu. All of the meat tastes like it’s been marinated for days before it reaches your mouth in all of its smoky, spicy glory.
A hypothetical TV-infomercial for Indian Accent would go something like this: “Hey, business powerhouses of Midtown! Are you sick and tired of the same old lunch spots? Do you need to impress your clients or your incredibly boring boss with filled kulcha breads and precious scoops of delicious kolhapuri salad in the middle of large white plates? Come on down to Indian Accent on 56th Street and be the hero of the office.” Stop by for dinner, and you can choose between a three-course and a four-course prix fixe meal.
This South Indian spot in Jackson Heights makes some of the best dosas in the neighborhood, but it seems like most people haven’t figured that out yet because you can always walk in and get a table. The space here is straightforward—there’s nothing but an empty coat rack and several tables topped with recycled Voss water bottles, so you’re really coming here to eat great food. When you order from the menu of over 20 different dosa options, start with the masala dosa and a few plates of samosa chaat. We like that the masala dosa is buttery, which balances out the spicy potatoes inside, and that the samosa stays firm under the mountain of chutney and yogurt.
Vatan is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet where you never have to stand up to get seconds, thirds, or fourths of mini samosas and chana masala. This is a completely vegetarian Gujarati-style spot in Kips Bay where you pay roughly $40 for three courses, and you can ask for as many refills as you want. Each course comes on a big metal tray (called a thali) with about 12 different dishes. Our favorites are the fried potato dumplings, the bhaji with spinach and corn, and the sweet and sticky gulab jamun dessert. Even without the prix fixe situation, eating here will feel special—your table will have a thatched roof over it, and you’ll sit next to a wishing well and a massive tree. It’s the opposite of the Apple store, in a great way.
Midtown East has no shortage of establishments with white tablecloths that serve as appropriate backdrops for anyone coming from a 5pm budget meeting. Chola is one such place, but as soon as you eat one of their dosas filled with lentils or the bhindi sasuralwali, you’ll forget about Steve’s twenty-minute question he chose to save until the end of the meeting. The menu ranges from Northern and Southern specialties, including a lot of seafood options. If you order like we do, dinner will come out to about $50 per person, but it’s worth it, especially if you get lemon rice on the side.
Moti Mahal Delux
This restaurant is specifically known for their incredible butter chicken. It’s rich and cooked in a clay oven, and eating it will probably make you want to lie down for several hours. Moti Mahal Delux is one of approximately 100 locations in the world (mostly in South Asia), and the owners also run Bhatti Indian Grill in Midtown East.
This is a neighborhood spot in Clinton Hill that has some of the best South Indian food in Brooklyn, so come here with that Pratt professor who’s interested in paying you to teach him about the dark web. If you like the sound of spicy curry potatoes covered in flaky crust, get the rava masala dosa. These dishes are on par with what you’ll find at the best Indian spots in Murray Hill, except you can enjoy them in a space that never feels packed—so you can explain your dark web secrets without anyone eavesdropping.
Imagine a big bowling alley, but take away the lanes, stupid nicknames on the monitor, and unflattering velcro shoes. And instead of frozen chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks, imagine that this bowling alley serves kashmiri kabob and lamb korma. This is the old-school Americana you’ll find at Jackson Diner, a spot that’s been in Jackson Heights since 1980. The Northern Indian food, like tandoori meats and curries, are all within the $15-20 range, and each portion is large enough to feed an entire short bus of children.
Another high-end Indian experience worth trying at least once. The food at Junoon is not a huge departure from what you might find in a less expensive Indian restaurant in Midtown. But the difference is that you’ll have a white napkin in your lap while you’re here, and you can order a flight of Indian whiskey. We’d recommend having a business lunch at Junoon, when you can choose from a few prix fixe meals that cost less than $50.
Bhatti is a nice Indian restaurant in Murray Hill that gets crazy busy, so make a reservation, get here on time, and go heavy on the kebabs (their specialty). But most importantly, bring some wine. This spot is BYOB, and you can have an ideal affordable date here by filling your table with dal, spicy meats, naan, and the retail-priced wines of your choosing.
Tamarind is probably the best known Indian restaurant downtown. It’s pretty fancy (they only allow children above the age of eight), but the Northern Indian food is also incredibly good. Just count on the fact that your meal will be expensive. Since there aren’t a ton of upscale Indian options in Tribeca, this is a good one to know about when you need to impress clients who work in the area.
There aren’t many hidden happy places in Midtown, because, well, it’s mostly very crowded and depressing. But if you need somewhere to sneak away and ignore the 50 emails you have sitting in your inbox, we’d suggest going to Bengal Tiger. This is a low-key spot that’s up a flight of stairs on 56th street, and the best thing to order here is the three course prix fixe deal. You'll get your choice of appetizer, entree, and a delicious rice pudding for dessert. We especially like the chicken makhni and the sweet vinegary sauce that comes under the samosa, and we appreciate how the hottest level of spice is actually as spicy as an HBO sex scene.
Much like an heiress in a jewelry store or a non-heiress at the prize counter of an arcade, all you have to do at Raja Sweets & Fast Food is point to what you want. There’s no menu at this counter-service spot in Jackson Heights, and it’s always packed with people drinking tea and eating chaat. We’d suggest ordering some fried things by the pound, like the excellent and crispy samosas and pakoras, plus a refrigerated dessert from their display case counter. Just know that Raja Sweets is cash-only and best for when you want something quick.
You’ll know you’re standing in front of Haandi if you're also standing next to about 35 off-duty cabs. This small restaurant just above the street on Lexington serves Pakistani and Indian things like mixed meat kabobs, mango shakes, and paratha, all cafeteria-style. Stop by the next time you have exactly ten minutes to eat food in Murray Hill. You’ll find it challenging to spend more than $10 here.