Food & Drink

The 12 Best Indian Restaurants in NYC

Feast on the dazzling diversity of India’s culinary reach.

GupShup
GupShup | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
GupShup | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Indians may be known for their vibrant and colorfully-chaotic culture of celebration, but here’s the clincher: They do next to nothing without a glorious, dizzying array of feast-worthy food to tie it all together. And this is especially true for Diwali, the shimmering annual Hindu festival of lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil (starting November 14).

Also known as Deepavali (“row of lights”), as the story goes, diyas (clay oil lamps) were lit thousands of years ago to illuminate the city of Ayodhya to guide Lord Rama and his beloved wife Sita back to their kingdom after a 14-year exile. Currently, to celebrate the festival, many Indians light up their homes during this time to attract the blessings of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. While there are deeper philosophical and spiritual sentiments around this multi-day celebration with regional customs performed throughout India–ultimately it is about the emergence of light from darkness, an onset of new beginnings that feels especially significant in America right now.

So just how over the top is it? “Diwali is almost a culmination of bringing together the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. So if you include all of these, that is what Diwali is,” says Julie Sahni–the Brooklyn-based doyenne of Indian cuisine, for whom Diwali holds a very special place, as it is also the day she was born.

“Indians are a very sociable people,” says Sahni, the classically-trained chef, author, and culinary teacher. As a legendary figure in the culinary world who introduced Americans to the foods of the subcontinent, Sahni launched her cooking school in 1973, and her landmark cookbook Classic Indian Cooking debuted exactly forty years ago.

Sahni, whose family hails from the same Tamilian village as Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ (it really is that small a world), reflected how the emergence of Indian cuisine in cities like NYC (with a current population of more than 700,000) and throughout the United States was a welcome result of Indians migrating to all corners of the country. Indians are so dedicated to their food culture, she observes, that with this movement came specialty grocery stores selling samosas and masala vadas, family-run restaurants like Amma in NYC, culinary institutions like the Ganesh Temple Canteen and more recently, even food carts.

Here, the 12 best Indian spots in NYC for flavors from every part of the subcontinent during this winter festival season, and beyond.

Chote Miya
Photo by Katrine Moite

From Mumbai to Calcutta, Indian street food offers flavors ranging from spicy heat to savory sweetness. And at the newly opened Chote Miya (which means “a regular, approachable guy”), in DUMBO’s Time Out Market New York, stateside locals get a chance to indulge in eternal favorites like the Mumbai-originated vada pav or magic masala fries, along with heartier fare like dal makhani and Delhi butter chicken. Top it all off with a fresh mango chili lassi or local favorite: Thums Up (India’s take on cola).
How to order: Outdoor seating along the East River and reduced capacity indoor seating with plexiglass table partitions. Takeout and delivery available via Time Out Market's app on iOS and Android.

Adda
Photo courtesy of Adda Indian Canteen

Adda

Long Island City

Adda Indian Canteen offers an unpretentious take on Indian food—presented by Chintan Pandya, who previously served as Michelin-starred Junoon’s executive chef. Keeping customer affordability at the forefront, a no-frills location was chosen in a rather unassuming part of LIC (among its closest neighbors is a 7-Eleven). In addition to offering the much lauded Lucknow Dum Biryani and paneer khurchan (featuring Adda’s excellent house-made paneer), new dishes this season include Kashmiri lamb ribs and vada paav; and a Diwali series of delightful street-food specials, including a new chaat menu featuring Delhi pakodi chaat, pani puri, and aloo tikki chaat.
How to order: Outdoor and indoor seating available. Reservations are available through Resy or call 718-433-3888. Order takeout and delivery via website, Grubhub, Seamless, UberEats.

Amma

Midtown

For almost twenty years, Delhi native and owner Anuj Sharma has presented dishes at the family-run Amma (meaning “mother”) that pay homage to the home-cooking of Indian mothers. Showcasing the dazzling diversity of India’s culinary reach, whether it’s the beetroot kofta, Goan fish curry, Konkan prawn masala, cauliflower Manchurian or Bagharey Baingan (a stuffed baby eggplant dish that hails from Hyderabad), the menu is a celebration of the global and regional flavors reflected across the subcontinent. Amma has also launched a donation program for patrons to support their efforts to feed people during the COVID-19 crisis.
How to order: Reservations via OpenTable or by calling 212-644-8330. Order takeout via website.

Dhaba

Kips Bay

Most Indians who are into food have a highly opinionated take on which is really the best dhaba, or local roadside eatery. As a heartwarming tribute to that vibrant rest stop fare, Dhaba offers an equally rousing variety of dishes on their menu—featuring well over a hundred items (the roti selection alone has 15 varieties). Helmed by Michelin-starred chef Hemant Mathur, the reasonable price points almost belie the flavor complexity of dishes such as lasoni gobi laced with ginger; kadai bhindi, a wok-tossed okra; or achari gosht, a richly spiced lamb entree.
How to order: Indoor and outdoor seating available. Reservations are available through OpenTable. Order takeout and delivery via website.

Aptly described as a culinary “South Indian Paradise,” the Ganesh Temple Canteen is in a league all its own. Located in the basement of a Hindu temple, it has long been a favorite of food celebs like Padma Lakshmi. The all-vegetarian canteen is known for its well-spiced take on everything from lentil-based sambar and bisibele bhath to thali lunches and tamarind rice. For the dosa-obsessed, they offer over 20 different versions (including uttapams). The famed Madras coffee is not to be missed for those who have yet to discover the restorative magic of South Indian coffee. For Diwali, a fantastic selection of sweets and snacks—including crumbly sweets like mysorepak and delightfully crunchy snacks like mullu muruku—are available through their site.
How to order: Indoor dining available. Takeout available via Doordash, Grubhub, Seamless, UberEats

Gupshup
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Gupshup

Union Square

Jimmy Fallon declared Gupshup his favorite NYC restaurant this past September–dining at the modern Indian hotspot with his fellow Tonight Show pals Questlove and Black Thought–to advocate support for local restaurants and small businesses. New fall menu additions include jackfruit meatballs a pumpkin coconut salan; and gunpowder branzino with a raw mango curry. To ring in Diwali, they’ll offer a decadent leg of lamb, paired with traditional Indian condiments, as the perfect family-style entree to enjoy together. And the striking artistic interior (which includes a wall of 3,000 tiffins to honor Mumbai’s dabbawallas), will soon be expanded with a brand new, permanent outdoor area with ample seating. 
How to order: Indoor and outdoor seating available. Reservations available through the website or by calling 212-518-7313. Order takeout via website, Caviar.

Indian Accent
Photo by Oleg March

Nestled in the luxurious Le Parker Meridien hotel, Indian Accent offers a contemporary international spin on Indian classics under the globally-savvy direction of chef Manish Mehrotra, who has worked in restaurants across Asia and Europe. Inventive offerings like soy keema, wild mushroom kulcha, and jackfruit biryani are woven throughout the menu. This Diwali, they’ll feature a special entree called Raan Korma (available through 11/15), a slow-cooked lamb shank korma served with cumin baby potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Also to note: Items previously offered on the multi-course tasting menus are now available a la carte. 
How to order: Indoor and outdoor patio seating available. Reservations via OpenTable. Delivery available by calling 212-842-8070 or through Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, Seamless.

Masala Times
Photo courtesy of Masala Times

Masala Times

Greenwich Village

The term “masala” cheekily references the idea of there being a little something for everyone–and at this downtown eatery, one thing is clear: A good time will be had by all. With a nod to the delightful array of spicy Indian fare, Masala Times, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, brings plenty of fun to their menu. Offerings include longstanding late-night favorites like spiced scrambled egg; spicy chickpea and tandoori mushroom rolls (a.k.a frankies as they call them); paneer tikka and tandoori chicken kebabs; and their signature boxes, which are takeaway-friendly meals featuring plenty of carbs with dal and an accompanying egg, vegetable, or protein.
How to order: Currently only takeout and delivery are available via Doordash, UberEats, GrubHub, Postmates, and Seamless.

N.Y. Dosas

Greenwich Village

There are few foods that excite Indians as much as the prospect of a crispy dosa. Thiru Kumar of NY Dosas is the joyful purveyor of this much beloved South Indian staple. His long-standing cart in Washington Square Park is usually visible if you just look for the long line of hungry revelers (who he regularly features on his Twitter and Instagram accounts). Insiders know to ask for the off-menu items like samosa and kale dosas. His vegan and vegetarian menu includes tributes to his grandmother’s pesarattu-style dosa and perennial faves like the Pondicherry special, all served up with well-spiced sambar and chutney to enjoy against one of NYC’s most beautiful city parks.
How to order: Walk up. Outdoor seating available in Washington Square Park. Venmo and cash only.

For more than 25 years, this unassuming culinary stalwart (the green awning only displays “Punjabi” in white letters as a clue to what’s inside) has kept locals satiated 24 hours a day with the sort of hearty vegetarian Punjabi fare that hits the spot no matter what time of day (or night). Opened by former cab driver Kulwinder Singh to serve as a welcome eatery and haven for the city’s cab drivers, Punjabi Deli & Grocery has since become a neighborhood institution for locals from all walks of life. From savory samosas and piping hot chai to saag, chaats, and yellow dal over rice, it’s a beacon of comfort that those-in-the-know come back to on repeat.
How to order: Takeout available for walk-ins.

Rahi
Photo courtesy of Rahi

Rahi

Greenwich Village

Perhaps the best (and no doubt, safest) way to journey halfway across the world this winter is by dining at Rahi (a sister restaurant to Adda), which means traveler in Hindi. Wall art by street artists Yok and Sheryo bring a wonderfully undulating energy to the brightly lit space. The menu features gratifyingly fresh takes on Indian classics–wild mushroom and truffle khichdi, chile cheese toast with Amul cheese and artichoke chaat. New dishes include fall-friendly comforts such as a pumpkin coconut curry and masala fried chicken–with a $2 donation made to City Harvest for every sandwich sold. Additionally, Chef Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar have launched a GoFundMe campaign to further support their dedicated staff. 
How to order: Outdoor dining (featuring a live grill) and indoor seating available. Reservations via Resy. Takeout available by calling 212-373-8900 or through Caviar, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, Uber Eats.

It’s impossible to ignore the soaring space of Tamarind (at a splendid 11,000 square feet), a fine dining hub in swanky Tribeca. The vast interior gives way to prime vantage points, be it a mezzanine-level view of the dining room or the chance to nestle into a surprisingly intimate booth on the ground floor. The impressive (and affordable) Executive Lunch menu, featuring flavors from Hyderabad to Goa, may command your initial attention, but more delights are ready to discover. Such as the Tamarind lunch wraps, which present guests with a high-brow version of a kati roll filled with paneer, salmon or lamb. Or the nearly dozen offerings from their tandoor oven, from marinated prawns to Chilean sea bass to venison chops. Intriguing vegetarian specialties include tindora poriyal, an ivy gourd dish and Majiga pulusu, with green plantains, white pumpkin, and yams.
How to order: Outdoor and indoor seating available. Reservations via OpenTable and Tock. Takeout and delivery available online and through Postmates, DoorDash, and Uber Eats.

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