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A close up shot of a bowl of curry with a spoon next to it. Amber India

9 Flavorful Indian Restaurants Around the South Bay

Venture beyond butter chicken and explore the decadent side of regional Indian cuisine

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Like any good urban center, the Bay Area has no dearth of fantastic Indian restaurants. They range from casual to upscale, those with dine-in choices to those strictly geared for take-out. And while the South Bay includes many easily accessible hidden and not-so-hidden gems, many of the region’s best Indian restaurants showcase the complex and varied offerings of flavor-filled and decadent regional Indian cuisine. So whether you crave familiar Indian restaurant fare or dishes that push the envelope, the next time you have a hankering for Indian cuisine, stop in at one of these South Bay Indian restaurants.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Ettan opened in 2020 to great fanfare and reviews, including a Michelin nod and acclaim for its social-media worthy, Moorish-inspired ambience. While the restaurant is not yet open for lunch, the brunch and dinner menus offer selections designed to delight those seeking non-traditional Indian cuisine. The menu includes many vegan and gluten-free options and is peppered with gentle nods to Southern India’s many regional homestyle flavors including the heat from Beydgi chilies; the tenderness of a well made mor kulambu; or a kootu, a medley of vegetables and lentils from Southern India — all offering room for inquiry and conversation. If you’re new to these phrases, bringing a friend can help you appreciate these regional Indian flavors more. 

If your heart desires upscale progressive Indian dining, Rooh it is. With multiple locations across the country, the Bay Area boasts two — one in San Francisco and another in Palo Alto. The menu includes familiar dishes like makhani chicken and daal makhani, alongside non-traditional dishes like avocado and green chickpea bhel tostada and tandoori mushroom with a polenta upma. While the Ayurveda-inspired cocktail menu simply borrows rasa concepts without offering substantive guidance to an unsuspecting diner, the buzz-free beverages including teas and tisanes are better suited to provide holistic mind-body-spirit balance. The restaurant is currently operating in limited capacity, so call before your visit. 

Curry from Rooh Rooh

Only the best chefs can boast a tenure at multiple locations of the Taj Group of Hotels, India’s ultimate luxury hospitality group, and Aurum chef Manish Tyagi is among them. Having honed his skills at many top-notch establishments across the country, Tyagi now calls Palo Alto home, and the city is lucky to have his playful yet on-point cuisine. Aurum showcases the diversity of regional India, enriching the dining experience with options like crab varuval, a fried crab dish from the Chettinad region; pithi, a bread from Bihar; and rajathani laal maas, lamb cooked with the regionally preferred Mathania chiles. Go hungry and save room for ghevar, a decadent dessert from Rajasthan.

Amber India

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A Bay Area institution for decades with several locations around the region, Amber offers a selection of flavor-rich dishes from across India. Classic and familiar dishes from the a la carte menu include Ambers’ signature butter chicken, Peshawari chicken tikka, green pepper lamb curry, and pindi choley, which reside comfortably alongside less common options like olive chicken seekh, wild mushroom biryani, and rum daar boti. The restaurant’s dessert selection satisfies the sweet tooth; enjoy the moong daal halwa while dining in, and pack decadent mithai treats for later. There is truly something for everyone.  A variety of dining options are available. 

Zareen's Mountain View

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Another restaurant with multiple locations in the Bay Area, Zareen’s is great if you’ve never had Indian food before. Since its opening in 2014, this restaurant remains easy on the pocketbook even after being included in the 2020 Michelin Guide. Zareen’s menu includes many options including a pre-fixe thali, traditional a la carte Indian meals, as well as Indian flavors in burgers. The flavor-packed dishes are mostly from Northern India and Pakistan. They have a robust capacity to cater to corporate clients, and with a casual ambiance, keep the ‘Indian college canteen’ feel. 

Two fried samosa on a plate. Zareen’s

Chaat House

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A simple establishment with multiple locations across the Bay Area, Chaat House offers another selection of quick and delightful snacks. Stop in to sample one of many griddle fried breads stuffed with radish greens, paneer, or onions; the seasonal makkai roti made with corn; and sarsoon saag made with mustard greens. The restaurant also offers a pre-fixe style thali to make easy work of picking through the large menu. 

A selection of bowls with dips and chutneys in them. Chaat House

Radhe Chaat

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Another small establishment, Radhe Chaat offers a large selection of snacks, along with many staple entrees from Western India. This vegetarian restaurant serves many classic eats from Gujarat including griddle-fried thepla; daal dhokli, daal with wheat noodles; as well as jowar bhakri, a rustic griddle-fried and gluten-free bread made from sorghum flour. plus Kutchi dabeli. If picking a dish or two proves difficult, the restaurant also offers several pre-fixe Thali options — large sampler-like platter with smaller servings of six to eight different dishes, served together as a meal.

Puranpoli

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Set in an office park complex with an innocuous storefront, Puranpoli delivers flavorful and robust eats from Western India. Two siblings, Roshan and Sheetal, bring the best flavors of heartwarming Maharashtrian comfort foods for an unforgettable feast. As a vegetarian restaurant, Puranpoli offers plenty of choices for diners with dietary restrictions. Plan to include bharli vangi, or stuffed baby eggplants in a rich tamarind-peanut sauce; zunka-bhakar, a classic pairing of rice flour bread with an entree of seasoned steamed chickpea flour; modak, traditional rice dumplings filled with a jaggery-coconut stuffing; and of course, puranpoli, a griddle-fried, stuffed sweet bread. Pick up a side of thecha, a condiment that can perk up any meal. Takeout only.

A white paper plate with puranpoli. Puranpoli

Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant

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This international restaurant chain, with one location in a shopping mall in Milpitas and another in Santa Clara, serves classic dishes from the Chettinad region of India. While its menu includes dishes from both Northern and Southern India, stop in to sample steamed rice preparations like aapam and idiyappam with your choice of protein; king fish; ceylon porota, an Indian dish with Sri Lankan influence; ennai kathirikkai, or eggplants cooked in sesame oil; and poondu kuzhambu, a side dish made exclusively with garlic cloves. With branches across South East Asia, they have a large selection of Indo-Chinese dishes as well. 

Ettan

Ettan opened in 2020 to great fanfare and reviews, including a Michelin nod and acclaim for its social-media worthy, Moorish-inspired ambience. While the restaurant is not yet open for lunch, the brunch and dinner menus offer selections designed to delight those seeking non-traditional Indian cuisine. The menu includes many vegan and gluten-free options and is peppered with gentle nods to Southern India’s many regional homestyle flavors including the heat from Beydgi chilies; the tenderness of a well made mor kulambu; or a kootu, a medley of vegetables and lentils from Southern India — all offering room for inquiry and conversation. If you’re new to these phrases, bringing a friend can help you appreciate these regional Indian flavors more. 

ROOH

Curry from Rooh Rooh

If your heart desires upscale progressive Indian dining, Rooh it is. With multiple locations across the country, the Bay Area boasts two — one in San Francisco and another in Palo Alto. The menu includes familiar dishes like makhani chicken and daal makhani, alongside non-traditional dishes like avocado and green chickpea bhel tostada and tandoori mushroom with a polenta upma. While the Ayurveda-inspired cocktail menu simply borrows rasa concepts without offering substantive guidance to an unsuspecting diner, the buzz-free beverages including teas and tisanes are better suited to provide holistic mind-body-spirit balance. The restaurant is currently operating in limited capacity, so call before your visit. 

Curry from Rooh Rooh

Aurum

Only the best chefs can boast a tenure at multiple locations of the Taj Group of Hotels, India’s ultimate luxury hospitality group, and Aurum chef Manish Tyagi is among them. Having honed his skills at many top-notch establishments across the country, Tyagi now calls Palo Alto home, and the city is lucky to have his playful yet on-point cuisine. Aurum showcases the diversity of regional India, enriching the dining experience with options like crab varuval, a fried crab dish from the Chettinad region; pithi, a bread from Bihar; and rajathani laal maas, lamb cooked with the regionally preferred Mathania chiles. Go hungry and save room for ghevar, a decadent dessert from Rajasthan.

Amber India

A Bay Area institution for decades with several locations around the region, Amber offers a selection of flavor-rich dishes from across India. Classic and familiar dishes from the a la carte menu include Ambers’ signature butter chicken, Peshawari chicken tikka, green pepper lamb curry, and pindi choley, which reside comfortably alongside less common options like olive chicken seekh, wild mushroom biryani, and rum daar boti. The restaurant’s dessert selection satisfies the sweet tooth; enjoy the moong daal halwa while dining in, and pack decadent mithai treats for later. There is truly something for everyone.  A variety of dining options are available. 

Zareen's Mountain View

Two fried samosa on a plate. Zareen’s

Another restaurant with multiple locations in the Bay Area, Zareen’s is great if you’ve never had Indian food before. Since its opening in 2014, this restaurant remains easy on the pocketbook even after being included in the 2020 Michelin Guide. Zareen’s menu includes many options including a pre-fixe thali, traditional a la carte Indian meals, as well as Indian flavors in burgers. The flavor-packed dishes are mostly from Northern India and Pakistan. They have a robust capacity to cater to corporate clients, and with a casual ambiance, keep the ‘Indian college canteen’ feel. 

Two fried samosa on a plate. Zareen’s

Chaat House

A selection of bowls with dips and chutneys in them. Chaat House

A simple establishment with multiple locations across the Bay Area, Chaat House offers another selection of quick and delightful snacks. Stop in to sample one of many griddle fried breads stuffed with radish greens, paneer, or onions; the seasonal makkai roti made with corn; and sarsoon saag made with mustard greens. The restaurant also offers a pre-fixe style thali to make easy work of picking through the large menu. 

A selection of bowls with dips and chutneys in them. Chaat House

Radhe Chaat

Another small establishment, Radhe Chaat offers a large selection of snacks, along with many staple entrees from Western India. This vegetarian restaurant serves many classic eats from Gujarat including griddle-fried thepla; daal dhokli, daal with wheat noodles; as well as jowar bhakri, a rustic griddle-fried and gluten-free bread made from sorghum flour. plus Kutchi dabeli. If picking a dish or two proves difficult, the restaurant also offers several pre-fixe Thali options — large sampler-like platter with smaller servings of six to eight different dishes, served together as a meal.

Puranpoli

A white paper plate with puranpoli. Puranpoli

Set in an office park complex with an innocuous storefront, Puranpoli delivers flavorful and robust eats from Western India. Two siblings, Roshan and Sheetal, bring the best flavors of heartwarming Maharashtrian comfort foods for an unforgettable feast. As a vegetarian restaurant, Puranpoli offers plenty of choices for diners with dietary restrictions. Plan to include bharli vangi, or stuffed baby eggplants in a rich tamarind-peanut sauce; zunka-bhakar, a classic pairing of rice flour bread with an entree of seasoned steamed chickpea flour; modak, traditional rice dumplings filled with a jaggery-coconut stuffing; and of course, puranpoli, a griddle-fried, stuffed sweet bread. Pick up a side of thecha, a condiment that can perk up any meal. Takeout only.

A white paper plate with puranpoli. Puranpoli

Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant

This international restaurant chain, with one location in a shopping mall in Milpitas and another in Santa Clara, serves classic dishes from the Chettinad region of India. While its menu includes dishes from both Northern and Southern India, stop in to sample steamed rice preparations like aapam and idiyappam with your choice of protein; king fish; ceylon porota, an Indian dish with Sri Lankan influence; ennai kathirikkai, or eggplants cooked in sesame oil; and poondu kuzhambu, a side dish made exclusively with garlic cloves. With branches across South East Asia, they have a large selection of Indo-Chinese dishes as well. 

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