The Best Indian Restaurants In Philadelphia

11 great options for dosas, piping hot aloo gobi, and tandoori meats.
This is a food spread from Indian Char House.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Don't believe anyone who tells you Philly has a vast selection of Indian food. (Point for New Jersey. We see you, New Jersey.) But also don't believe anyone who says there aren't any good places to eat crispy dosas, grilled tandoori shrimp, or piping hot aloo gobi in this city. There are—you just have to know where to look.



Center City

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDinner with the ParentsDrinks & A Light BiteWalk-Ins
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You're bound to over-order at this busy South Indian restaurant in Center City. That's just what happens at a place that smells this good and has a menu the size of a children's picture book. There are typically specials like mutton curry with spicy onion and tomato gravy, a creamy paneer butter masala, and stacks of warm parotta—all of which are great. But if you need to narrow down your choices, go for the $21 South Indian vegetarian special. It comes with a couple of small rice dishes, curries, soups, pickles, pakora, chapati, and dessert. Dosas are also essential, and great for sharing if you're with someone else.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Like most Indian restaurants in the city, this excellent West Philly spot has a lengthy vegetarian menu full of dishes like well-spiced paneer in a creamy tomato sauce or chana masala with notably tender chickpeas. But there are also South Indian and Indo-Chinese choices on the menu. Fill your table with food from all of the above categories—particularly the crispy dosas and pan-seared chicken momos. And then admire the streamers hanging from the ceiling and rainbow-striped walls, both of which make you feel like you're at a New Year’s Eve party.

After we ate at Indian Char House for the first time, we had a dream about a jacuzzi full of shrimp tikka. We can't guarantee you're destined for the same path. But we can confirm the creamy Indian stews and skillets of barbecued whole fish and lamb chops at this small West Philly spot are reliably great. Mains don’t go above $20, unless it’s a weekly special like their rich lamb chop masala, and portions are twice as large as comparable spots. Since you’ll certainly have leftovers, you can just eat more fluffy naan and smoky chicken kabab again for breakfast—after you have your own wild dreams. 

Veda in Rittenhouse serves everything from juicy Calcutta pork with a chutney glaze and a lamb rogan josh (but ask them to turn up the heat–the default is pretty tame). It's usually pretty packed with coworkers or friends celebrating birthdays and passing around plates of vegetable samosa, tandoori meats and fish, and heaps of biriyani. Besides the great food, the perk of this restaurant is the fun space—and the fact that you're close to a bunch of bars if you're looking for part two of your night.

The first thing you’ll notice about New Era Indian Cuisine in Chestnut Hill is how many times you must have walked past without noticing. (There's no signage and it's next to a bunch of brick houses and apartment complexes.) But then you'll eat paneer chettinad cooked in coconut milk, samosas, and nose-clearing chili fish, and you'll never forget about this place again.

photo credit: GAB BONGHI



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Thanal Indian Tavern's gunpowder shrimp tikka is one of our favorite shrimp dishes in the city. It's incredibly earthy and smoky. While you could make an entire meal out of this and be happy at this Logan Square restaurant, we also suggest getting the goat curry and the Malabar fish cooked in coconut milk and tamarind gravy. Thanal never gets too packed and there are lots of tables, which makes it perfect for walk-ins or a last-minute group dinner when you want a place quiet enough to hear everyone at the table.  

If you want a date night pick, go to Bella Vista’s Lazeez Indian Cuisine and eat kebabs like tandoori shrimp or savory-sweet chicken marinated with cream cheese. The white tablecloths, candlelight, and golden Patachitra paintings on the wall make the room feel a little more special than your average weeknight spot. So will ending your meal with subtly sweet badam kheer and the super rich rice pudding with cardamom, almond, and pistachios. You might even forget that your date was 20 minutes late. 

Nafi Food Express is a halal food truck in West Philly that serves grilled lamb, veggie biryani, and smashed eggplant, all for under $8. Their light and peppery chicken salad is most certainly an upgrade to whatever you meal-prepped for the week. Plus, it’s a food truck, so you can show up in sweats and be back on the couch with some fluffy naan in under an hour. 

If you're looking for Indian food in Manayunk, you're looking for Manayunk Indian Grille. It's the best option in the neighborhood, specifcally when you want excellent pakoras, aloo papdi chaat, and murgh malai kebab. They also serve some good Himalayan dishes like chicken hakka noodles and honey garlic shrimp.

The menu at Headhouse Square's Indian Kitchen Lovash is long–we’re talking Samuel L. Jackson’s filmography long–so it truly has something for everyone. Bring a group of friends here and pass around lavash wraps packed with ground lamb and bits of green pepper, paneer tikka masala drenched in a mint sauce, or spicy potatoes coated in a tamarind chutney. This casual BYOB is rarely packed, so it can be your go-to for a spur-of-the-moment dinner with fragrant biryani, rich curries, and golden butter chicken drumsticks as big as a toy baseball bat. 

Old City’s Karma Restaurant and Bar is a casual place with a large buffet and plenty of tables. We usually end up packing our plate with pakora, tandoori roti, and shrimp Malabar at the buffet, but you can always opt for the a la carte menu. Whether you’re standing in line or ordering specific dishes, the section to pay attention to is the biryani. Each spoonful is fluffy, spice-rubbed, and filled with juicy cubes of chicken or lamb.

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