Where to Eat the Best Indian Food in and Around Boston
From casual street food favorites for all-out feasts.
Our city was once only known for fresh seafood, Irish pubs, and enough chowder to last a lifetime. These days, exploring the city proper plus Somerville and Cambridge will lead you to so much more than that, including plenty of authentic and flavorful Indian cuisine—but that wasn’t always the case.
“If you look back 20 years ago, there weren’t many Indian restaurants in the Boston area,” says Rokeya Chowdhury, co-owner of Shanti Restaurant. “Now, different communities, like from the Irish parts of Boston, are our biggest customer base.”
Rokeya, who co-owns Shanti Restaurant in Dorchester and Roslindale with her husband Solmon Chowdhury, said that as fast-casual restaurants have begun incorporating Indian flavors into their dishes, the number of Indian restaurants in the city has exploded as well. “It’s exciting to see because that means the cuisine is drawing mainstream attention,” Chowdhury said.
Whether you’re looking forward to a feast in honor of Diwali or adding to your list of the best restaurants to try in the area, check out our roundup of the best places for Indian food in and around Boston.
After opening its doors more than 20 years ago, Shanti continues to be a beloved neighborhood staple serving up authentic South Asian cuisine to local Dorchester and Southie residents. Shanti has another location in Roslindale and a test kitchen in Roxbury for trying out the most flavorful ingredients and spices that burst with Indian cuisine flavors.
Known for its vegetarian-only menu, Dosa-N-Curry offers North Indian, South Indian, and Indo-Chinese cuisine free of eggs, meat, fish, and really any animal product. In case you’re craving something different midday, the restaurant has a lunchtime special, Thali, that includes four curries, your choice of an appetizer, rice, salad, dessert, and plain naan or a plain or masala dosa for only $13.95.
Specializing in Indian and Nepali cuisine, Himalayan Bistro is actually the first Nepali restaurant in the greater Boston area. With plenty of kebabs and chow mein to choose from, one thing you must try is the spot’s tandoori chicken, a spring chicken marinated in tandoori masala and yogurt for more than 24 hours and then cooked in the tandoori. You simply can’t skip it.
The House of Kebab
If you almost always order kebabs, it’s no surprise that The House of Kebab in Somerville will become your new favorite restaurant. With build-your-own options featuring a long list of protein choices like spiced lamb and salmon, the kebabs can (and should) be complemented with the batata vada, a helping of crispy potato fritters inspired by a popular Mumbai street food.
As one of Boston’s oldest Indian restaurants, Indian Pavilion was founded by owner Mohan Singh, who has personally trained more than 100 chefs throughout the course of his culinary career. Maintaining their traditional family recipes to this day, the restaurant’s experienced chefs cook up dishes incorporating only the highest quality and freshest spices and herbs.
Not far from Central Square you’ll find Kantipur Cafe, which cooks up traditional Nepali, Indian, and American cuisine. You’ll find momo (stuffed dumplings), samosas, and kebabs, but as you make your way to the bottom of the menu, you’ll also see a selection of subs and pizzas. So if you’re on the fence with what to order, there’s quite the variety. But between entrees like the chicken biryani, rice cooked with chicken, cashews, raisins, sliced almonds, spices, and fried onions, or Aloo Gobi, a dish that consists of fresh cauliflower and potatoes gently cooked with herbs and spices, pizza will be the last thing on your mind.
You’ve likely seen The Maharaja’s attractive, second-floor seating during your strolls through Harvard Square. Recognized for its luxe dining room and robust menu, the restaurant is the spot for celebrating special occasions. When you’re there, make sure you scope out the naan options including the peshawari, a sweetly stuffed bread with almonds, raisins, cashews, and coconut, or the plain bhatura, a deep fried, leavened bread.
Masala serves authentic South Indian cuisine, with plenty of bread, homemade chutneys, and both vegetarian and non-vegetarian specialty dishes that are sure to fill you up. As for a must-have on the menu, the dosas come plain or stuffed with vegetables like potatoes, peas, and peppers.
Nirvana on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge has traditional tastes with a modern flair. If you’re having trouble deciding on a dish, you can’t go wrong with their chef’s recommendations including the vegan Gobi Manchurian, a plate of crispy, deep-fried cauliflower with onion, garlic, and chili sauce, or the paneer chili, a bowl of spicy chili curry cooked with pieces of fresh homemade cheese.
Passage to India
For more than 25 years, Passage To India in Porter Square has graced North Cambridge with northern and southern Indian-inspired cuisine. Not only does the food menu provide a hefty variety of vegetarian and protein-rich options, but they also have a full bar if you’re craving something boozy on the side.
Punjabi Dhaba, AKA Cambridge’s Indian roadside cafe, has earned many accolades over the years including a spot on Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” list. Channeling traditional roadside dhabas across the highways of India, the Inman Square restaurant has plenty of fast and delicious bites from vegetable samosas to chicken tikka masala.
Vaisakhi Indian Kitchen
Paying homage to the Punjab, Vaisakhi Indian Kitchen is named after the spring harvest festival, Vaisakhi, which marks the Sikh new year. Found in the heart of Allston and Brighton, Vaisakhi also takes inspiration from the cultural cuisine’s bold and rich flavors, with some of the best curry and tandoori options around, including the tandoori mixed grill which features tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, boti kebab, tandoori shrimp, sauteed onions, and lemon atop a bed of rice.