8 Essential Indian Restaurants You Need to Know in Artesia

Celebrate Diwali with a regional Indian food tour along Pioneer Boulevard.

India is the second most populous country and the 7th largest country in the world, with a population of over 1.3 billion people. It shares land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, and is home to a wealth of cultures, cuisines, and traditions that one can spend an entire lifetime getting to know.

But here in LA County, we don’t have to book an international flight to taste the wide-ranging cuisines of India. We can just head southeast on the 91 or 605 freeways to the city of Artesia, where some of the best regional Indian cuisines are represented on a two-mile strip along Pioneer Boulevard.

Artesia’s status as an unofficial “Little India” enclave is relatively recent. After the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the number of Indian immigrants in the US rose from 12,000 to 51,000 by 1970, with many choosing to settle in Los Angeles and Orange County. Previously known as Dairy Valley for its annual Dairy Fair, Artesia was recovering from a farming labor shortage in the late 1960s, and newly arrived Indian immigrants saw opportunity as the inexpensive neighborhood became more business-centric.

In 1971, Balkishan Lahoti started selling Indian spices out of the garage of his Artesia home, perhaps marking the first Indian business in the area. By the 1980s, Pioneer Boulevard had emerged as a hub for numerous Indian- and Middle Eastern-owned businesses, including a branch of State Bank of India in 1988. By the mid-1990s, most of the area’s Middle Eastern businesses had relocated to the Little Arabia enclave in nearby Anaheim, allowing Artesia to evolve into a haven for local Indian communities.

The stretch of Pioneer Boulevard between 183rd and 188th Streets is now home to an assortment of South Asian businesses, ranging from spice and fabric shops to a large sampling of Indian restaurants. Here you’ll find the crispy, crepe-like dosas and coconut milk-based curries that are popular in Southern states, as well as the spice-forward, clay oven-prepared dishes that are common in the North, plus traditional chai and lassi drinks, and plenty of street food-inspired snacks like samosas, vadas, and spiral jalebi desserts.

Smita Vasant, who opened her Indian ice cream parlor Saffron Spot in 2005, says, “I, and the rest of the Indian community feel at home here, we love celebrating and showcasing the foods and cultures of our home country—it’s a home away from home.”

The best way to get to know this district is through a self-guided food tour and with the Diwali holiday coming up on November 4, there’s no better time than the present to start exploring. Here are eight of our favorite spots to get you started:

Saffron Spot is a must-stop destination and an Artesia mainstay for artisanal Indian ice cream. In addition to popular flavors like mango and pistachio, owner Smita Vasant crafts other classic Indian desserts like kulfi kreme, a popular ice cream with nut and cardamon flavors; cassata, a layered ice cream with pistachio, vanilla, and tutti frutti; and falooda, an ice-cream float with noodles and basil seeds. Dessert seekers with dietary restrictions can opt for gola, or dairy-free Indian snow cones.
How to order: Walk in or call 562-809-4554 for catering and large orders.

This establishment has been a long-time staple of the area and boasts of a wide variety of dishes from the western state of Gujarat. From the town of Surat to be exact, as reflected in its name. The cuisine of the area is heavily vegetarian and Surati Farsan Mart offers a wide selection of vegan options including sev ussar, a pea soup topped with crunchy noodles, and deconstructed dhokla, steamed chickpea cakes dressed to the nines with fresh spices. Spend some time perusing the glass cases filled to the brim with decadent sweet treats and be sure to grab the carb-loaded, hyper-local, and seasonally available Indian dessert ghari if they have it. The restaurant and market also offers Diwali gift boxes for the holiday.
How to order: Walk in, call 562-860-2310 for takeout, or order online. Limited outdoor seating is available.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

This simple and elegant restaurant features the flavors of Udupi, a city in the state of Karnataka, a region known for its delicately spiced and flavorful vegetarian dishes. This regional affiliation comes through in offerings like mysore coffee, a filtered coffee latte with cardamom, and a rava masala dosa with a beautiful window pane-like lattice texture. Udupi Palace also offers a rotating South Indian Thali with rasam, sambar, poriyal, daal, two vegetables of the day, special rice, white rice, chapati, papad, pickle, raita, and payasam, for a complete meal.
How to order: Walk in or order online for takeout.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Podi Dosa proudly represents the cuisine of Andhra Pradesh, a region known for its liberal use of whole red chilies, sharp flavors, and intensely flavor-packed meat dishes. This restaurant also includes some dishes from central India and Tamil Nadu—two neighboring states. Within its menu lies an education to a myriad of spice powders, or podi, which come in varieties like milagai podi (authentic masala chutney) and karivepaku podi (curry leaves chutney powder) and can be added to dosas, idly, or rice. Crepe-like dosas can be prepared with chutney, stuffed, soft, or as a rava dosa that’s made with rice and semolina mixed with cashews, curry leaves, jeera, and cilantro. For fans of the spice-laden mixed rice dish biryani, Podi Dosa offers a wide selection including gongura biryani (with sorrel leaves), thalappakatti biryani (with seeraga samba rice), and tandoori biryani. Most dishes are customizable for spice levels and Podi Dosa also offers take-home dosa batters.
How to order: Walk in or text 714-351-2300 for takeout orders.

A small eatery with big flavors, Paratha Grill offers a robust variety of parathas, griddle-fried Indian bread, from the wheat-producing, farming region of Northern India. An abundance of stuffed parathas are on offer, including palak (spinach and spice), onion gobi (cabbage and spices), aloo (boiled potatoes and spices), and many more. Many are served with a side of plain yogurt and a delicious pickled lemon with fresh onions. Cool off and wash down the meal with their salty lassi.
How to order: Walk in or order online for takeout.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Rajdhani offers an elaborate selection of dishes from the state of Gujarat, available as an all-you-can-eat thali, a meal balanced around six flavors based on Ayurvedic nutrition that changes daily. The regular Thali meal includes vegan, gluten-free, and Jain dishes (made without onions or garlic), and unlike typical self-serve buffets, Rajdhani servers bring the platters to you so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy. The selection varies by the day and the season, though you can expect a salad, appetizers like yellow dhokla, soups and curries as entree dishes, sides of rice, roti, and dal, and desserts like gulab jamun and falooda ice cream. Sharing is not allowed. A limited Thali offers smaller portions of that day's menu, without refills.
How to order: Call 562-402-9102 for availability or order takeout and delivery via UberEats.

Indo-Chinese cuisine has evolved along India’s long northern and northeastern border with neighboring China, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma, in regions with a healthy appreciation of their neighbors' spices, techniques, flavors and dishes. The playful menu at Wok N Tandoor invites diners to explore classic dishes like egg curry alongside momo manchurian, makai soup (sweet corn), and hakka noodles. It includes unique preparations like Szechuan paneer, with soft paneer cheese in a spicy Szechuan sauce, as well as fish preparations from Kerala and Goa—an unusual find in an Indo-Chinese joint. The Jain menu offers vegetarian dishes made without onions and garlic. This restaurant belongs to the same group that owns Rasraj, an Indian sweet shop further down on Pioneer Blvd.
How to order: Walk in or order online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Walk too fast and you might miss this delightful little stop that specializes in paan, a stimulating snack with betel leaf that’s traditionally eaten after a meal to aid digestion. Owned by Chaitanya Vyas and his wife, the duo offers dozens of paan preparations, with everything from sweet rose petal preserves to gold flecks, with the option to customize according to your tastes. Chaat, or a variety of popular Indian snacks, are the other draw to this establishment, and you can’t leave without trying their salty masala soda.
How to order: Walk in or call 562-355-2889 for takeout.

Nandita Godbole is a Thrillist contributor.