Bay Area Bites Guide to 10 Favorite South Bay Indian Restaurants

The thali platter at Chaat Paradise in Mountain View.  (Jeff Cianci)

Indian cuisine has a broad audience in the Bay Area ranging from those who may be enjoying the complex flavors and smells for the first time to those who regularly visit a favorite restaurant which serves a dish that invokes memories from home. A cuisine that excites the senses, regional Indian dishes cover a wide spectrum of flavors, ranging from spicy and pungent chicken Chettinadu to the subtly sweet and creamy saag paneer. The massive country is home to many different styles and flavors, each influenced by geography and various cultural traditions within the country. In the South Bay Area, a collection of great restaurants represent the various flavors and styles of Indian cuisine. Here are ten favorite Indian restaurants in the South Bay Area. If we missed your go-to South Bay Indian restaurant, please be sure to let us know in the comments section.

Darbar Indian Cuisine
129 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto [map]
Ph: (650) 321-6688
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-2:30pm 5pm-9:30pm; Sat 5-10pm; Sun 5-9:30pm
Facebook: Darbar Indian Cuisine
Twitter: @DarbarIndian
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Darbar Indian Cuisine offers a full picture of Indian cuisine with a menu that features both Northern and Southern Indian specialties. The humble Palo Alto Indian restaurant has enjoyed many past awards and praise, such as Palo Alto Weekly’s award for Best Indian Restaurant. Classic Southern Indian vegetarian dishes such as palak paneer (Creamed spinach and farmer’s cheese) and aloo gobi (spiced cauliflower and potatoes) shine at Darbar. The familiar chicken tikka masala is rich and creamy but mild, making it a great choice for newbies to the cuisine. If you enjoy a kick of heat, the sweet, sour and pungently spiced lamb vindaloo gets its unique flavoring from a blend of garam masala, ginger, paprika, cayenne, mustard seeds and red wine vinegar. Cooling your palate after the vindaloo may require a cool, crisp Kingfisher lager.

Chaat Paradise
165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View [map]
Ph: (408) 617-9100
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-10pm
Facebook: Chaat Paradise
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

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Aptly named, the menu at Chaat Paradise features a broad selection of popular snacks one would expect to enjoy from streetside vendor in India. A tasteful combination of puffed rice, lentil crackers, garbanzo beans, chutneys and spiced potato comprise most of the chaat dishes. The popular papdi chaat comes as a layering of crispy wafers, yogurt, spiced potatoes and chutneys. The menu has a selection of ala carte vegetarian specialties or simply order the daily special thali platter to complete your meal.

Madras Cafe
1177 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale [map]
Ph: (408) 737-2323
Facebook: Madras Cafe
Twitter: @MadrasCafeUSA
Hours: Tues-Thu 8:30am-2pm 5:30-10pm; Sat-Sun 8:30am-10pm
Price range: $ (entrees under $10)

Madras Cafe is an incredibly popular option in Sunnyvale for South Indian vegetarian specialties, most notably their menu of various dosas. The massive, paper thin crepes made from rice batter and black lentils serve as a utensil to enjoy different vegetarian dishes such as the popular potato masala. Also popular are the fluffy, deep-fried bhatoora, served alongside a sweet and spicy dish of channa masala (chickpea and tomato stew). Different from the thin, crepe-like dosa, uthappam are studded with vegetables such as peas, onions and carrots and cooked on a griddle like a pancake.

Naan-N-Masala
94 Dempsey Rd, Milpitas [map]
Ph: (408) 263-9400
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-10pm
Facebook: Naan N Masala
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

This unassuming Indian cafe is all about no-frills, inexpensive yet incredibly delicious Indian food. Dishes, utensils and water is self-service with bottomless chai on the house. The menu features familiar, Indian dishes from both Northern and Southern cuisines. Murgh Cholay chicken is a simple, comforting dish of cumin and garam masala spiced chicken and chickpeas. If you enjoy saag paneer, try the sarson ka saag which is a spiced gravy of spinach and mustard greens for a touch of pepperiness.

Amber India
4926 El Camino Real, Los Altos [multiple locations]
Ph:(650) 968-7511
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm 5pm-10pm
Facebook: Amber India Los Altos
Twitter: @AmberSantanaRow
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Amber India has several locations in the Bay Area with one in San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Jose and two locations in Mountain View. The four Bay Area locations offer delicious, traditional Indian dishes in a fine dining setting. Those who enjoy lamb will melt away with the sweet and spiced flavors of the kerala lamb curry, which blends the spice of curry leaves and peppercorns with subtle sweetness of coconut milk. Similarly, the unassuming palak paneer has a noticeably sweet touch and heavenly creamy texture. Sister restaurant, Amber Cafe serves the same great menu of flavorful dishes in a casual counter-service bistro setting. Come June, Amber India will be leaving the flagship Mountain View location to just reopen on the opposite side of El Camino Real in Los Altos. With the new location the restaurant will incorporate a trolley-style assortment of small plates in addition to the regular menu.

Little India Cafe
415 N Mary Ave, Sunnyvale [map]
Ph: (408) 245-6200
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2pm 5-9pm; Sat 11:30am-2pm 5-9pm
Facebook: Little India Cafe
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Tucked away in a Sunnyvale stripmall, Little India Cafe serves comforting Indian dishes full of flavor and authenticity. The small restaurant serves dinner as well as an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will love the navratna korma. The dish is a celebratory meal containing nine special ingredients, navaratna translating from Hindi to nine jewels. At Little India Cafe, the navaratna is a rich, turmeric colored curry with carrots, peas and other vegetables. The goat biryani is colorful and delicious with complex flavor for those who enjoy something different.

Sakoon
357 Castro St, Mountain View [map]
Ph: (650) 965-2000
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm 5-10pm; Fri 11:30am-2:30pm 5-10:30pm; Sat 12-3pm 5-10:30pm; Sun 12-3pm 5-10pm
Facebook: Sakoon
Twitter: @SakoonCuisine
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

A modern, vibrant decor and skillfully trained executive chef make Sakoon in Mountain View a popular option for Indian cuisine in a fine dining setting. Chef Alex Paul Xalxo trained at India’s Hotel Juhu Centaur in Mumbai, later coming to New York City where he worked in high end Indian establishments. Check, Please! Bay Area fans may recognize Sakoon as a featured restaurant from last season. Popular dishes on the menu include a fragrantly spiced and beautifully plated biryani, complete with a crusty naan baked over the dish to deal in flavors. Traditionally served as Indian street food, jhal muri, puffed rice with tamarind chutney, spiced potato salad and red onions, receives an artfully plated redux at Sakoon.

Turmeric
141 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale [map]
Ph: (408) 617-9100
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Sat-Sun 12-2:30pm 5:30-10:30pm
Facebook: Turmeric Restaurant
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Don’t even bother with a menu at Turmeric. It becomes apparent very quickly that customers are here at lunch and dinnertime to enjoy the popular buffet. Buffet offerings include a simmering steel pan of channa masala; fiery red tandoori chicken; bhindi masala, okra in a warmly spiced gravy; achari eggplant, a spicy and tart dish cooked with baby eggplants in Indian pickling spices; and the familiar spiced cauliflower dish, aloo gobi. The buffet operates upstairs, so don’t be alarmed when you arrive to an empty dining room on the entrance level.

Red Chillies
167 S Main St, Milpitas [map]
Ph: (408) 418-4778
Hours: Mon 11:30am-2pm 6-9pm; Wed-Thu 11:30am-2pm 6-9pm; Fri 12-3pm 6-9:30pm; Sun 12-3pm 6-9pm
Facebook: Red Chillies Fine Dine Indian Restaurant
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Red Chillies in Milpitas serves a menu showcasing Kerala cuisine, from the Southwest region of India along the Malabar Coast. While heavily spiced, the dishes almost always feature coconut for a subtle sweet, nuttiness to balance out the pungent heat. The South Indian vegetable stew, avial is a lovely example of the balance between spicy curry leaves and sweet coconut. To enjoy the flavors of the South Indian sea, try the alleppey fish curry with turmeric and mango.

Aachi Aappakadai
1105 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale [map]
Ph: (408) 732-2244
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm 6-10pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm 6-10:30pm; Sun 11:30am-2:30pm 6pm-9:30pm
Facebook: Aachi Aappakadai Indian Chettinad Restaurant
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

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Aachi Appakadai showcases the Chettinad cuisine from Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Chettinad cuisine is recognizable by the use of fragrant, heavily spiced curries. Therefore, signature dishes at Aachi Appakadai include the chicken Chettinadu. The dish is not for those who enjoy mild food. A pungent aroma of star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and cumin bubble up to your senses from the thick fiery gravy. If you do enjoy spicy food, it is quite delicious alongside an order of appam, which are large bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice and coconut for a touch of sweetness. Cool down your palate with a refreshing, slightly sweet rose milk.

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