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House of Kebab
Photograph: Courtesy House of Kebab House of Kebab

The best Indian restaurants in Boston

Enjoy crowd-pleasing favorites and authentic regional specialties in casual surroundings or fine dining environs

By Time Out Boston Staff and Eric Grossman
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Indian restaurants offer a surefire option for a tasty, inexpensive meal appealing to both vegetarians and omnivores. Boston offers a wealth of other reasons to hit up its best Indian restaurants. Unusual flavors, authentic spices, and regional delicacies can be found around the city as you get more specific with Punjabi, Himalayan, South Indian and other regional styles. Enjoy a spicy vindaloo in homey surroundings, or a murgh malai kebab in an ornate Indian setting. Lunch buffets abound, offering a great way to sample a range of flavorful specialties. For more well-spiced, regional cuisine, try Boston's best Thai restaurants or Boston's best Mexican restaurants. Can't be bothered to head out? Try one of the Indian places on our list of the best delivery options in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best Indian restaurants in Boston

The Maharaja
Photograph: Courtesy The Maharaja

1. The Maharaja

Restaurants Indian Harvard Sq

You’ll feel like a maharaja dining here, amidst ornate Indian decor and place settings, with a view of Harvard Square through floor-to-ceiling, second-story windows. Traditional Indian hospitality means you’ll be well taken care of as you enjoy authentic cuisine. The menu features dishes like murgh malai kebab (chicken marinated in herbs and cream) and bhindi do pyaza (sauteed okra), not often found on other Indian menus. Check out the daily lunch buffet, packed with delicious options including vegetarian and vegan.

India Quality
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/James D.

2. India Quality

Restaurants Indian Fenway/Kenmore

This long-standing spot in Kenmore Square has served Northern Indian specialties for decades. The quality of the dishes reflect the care put into the recipes that the owner brought with him from his native Punjab. Favorites include bhelpuri (a spiced puffed rice appetizer), spinach poori bread, coconut korma, chicken goa, and goat specialties. Low prices are a draw at lunchtime. You’ll want to try sweets like house-made kulfi ice cream or kheer pudding, too.

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Punjabi Dhaba
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Will W.

3. Punjabi Dhaba

Restaurants Indian Inman Sq

Inspired by the roadside restaurants along India’s highways, this small Inman Square spot specializes in heaping portions of fast, flavorful Punjabi dishes. Fill your tray with chatt (crunchy snack mixes), pakoras, tandoori items, curries, paratha, and more. There are lighter items and western-inspired dishes for the less-hungry or less-adventurous, and special platters for the indecisive. Whatever you choose, you’ll enjoy spiced delights for a reasonable price. In keeping with its no-frills approach, Punjabi Dhaba is cash only.

Himalayan Bistro
Photograph: Courtesy Himalayan Bistro

4. Himalayan Bistro

Restaurants Indian West Roxbury

Take a trip to West Roxbury for a taste of Nepal. The massive menu includes both Indian and Nepalese cuisine, so you can have saag paneer with your momo. Try tandoori specialties, biryanis, and a range of fresh, hot breads. Special Himalayan dinners offer a sampling of menu favorites, and monthly additions include lesser-known dishes like seafood timuri masala or a chef’s special like cherry naan.

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Shanti
Photograph: Courtesy Shanti

5. Shanti

Restaurants Indian Dorchester

Shanti’s location in Dorchester was once a hidden gem, but word spread and now fans can enjoy their classic Indian cuisine in Cambridge and Roslindale too. It can be difficult to choose from the extensive menu, but it’s hard to go wrong. From the “Chaat Corner” and tandoor oven specialties to fresh roti, everything is expertly prepared. Khorma, bhuna, biryanis, and veggie dishes are all fragrant and well-spiced. For more authenticity, the staff is happy to increase the spice level if asked.

Mela
Photograph: Courtesy Mela

6. Mela

Restaurants Indian South End

For a higher end Indian dining experience, with modern lighting and sleek decor, Mela delivers. Start off with an Indian-inspired cocktail as you peruse the lengthy menu. Duck jalfrezi and baingan bhartha (a baked and sauteed eggplant dish) are standouts, and the do-it-yourself hot stone entrees are a fun date activity. There’s even an organic section of the menu. For a different kind of brunch, Mela’s weekend buffet is fresh and flavorful.

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Passage to India
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Shan S.

7. Passage to India

This spot in Porter Square (1900 Mass Ave, Cambridge) has earned loyal fans over its nearly 30 years in the neighborhood. Start off with a sampling of crisp fried pakoras before diving in to house specialties like goat madras (with potatoes, ginger, and spices) and baingan bhartha (whole eggplant roasted over coals, blended with peas and aromatic spices) or a selection of chaat and dosas.

Tikki Masala
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tisa H

8. Tikki Masala

Restaurants Indian Jamaica Plain

This low-key spot in Jamaica Plain serves authentic North Indian dishes with a few South Indian dishes. Go for the goat—korma, masala, jalfrezi, and more—or stick to something more familiar like chicken vindaloo, mixed vegetables curry, tikka masala, or palak paneer. All are flavorful with a good spice level; fresh squeezed lime juice cools any lingering burn. Takeout is popular here, especially less messy options like dosas or tandoori wraps.

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Punjab Palace
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Akira S.

9. Punjab Palace

This Allston staple (109 Brighton Ave) is all about Northern Indian specialties. Vegetarian options abound, but chicken, seafood, lamb, and goat are well represented in dishes like lamb paneer masala and fish jalfrezi. House-made paneer with a spicy chili sauce is popular. Spice lovers can simply ask for to up the heat level.

Indian Pavilion
Photograph: Courtesy Indian Pavilion

10. India Pavilion

Restaurants Indian Cambridgeport

India Pavilion has been serving North Indian specialties in Central Square for more than 30 years and doing it well, standing out amongst others in the area. Favorites include paneer pakora, lamb saag, chicken korma, and a selection of slightly non-traditional entrees. The lunch buffet is a great deal and offers more than 15 items.

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Dosa-N-Curry
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Abhi J.

11. Dosa n Curry

Restaurants Indian Somerville

Dosa n Curry is popular with vegans and vegetarians for its all-vegetarian menu. But the quality of the South Indian, North Indian, and Indo-Chinese cuisine satisfies meat-eaters too. Rich, flavorful dishes include dosas, veggie curries, parathas, utthapams, and bhajjis. The lunch buffet offers a generous sampling of their specialties. Lassis, shakes, and homemade desserts provide a sweet finish.

Kashmir Indian Restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kiat C.

12. Kashmir

Restaurants Indian Back Bay

With its prime location on Newbury Street and sidewalk patio for outdoor dining, you might think Kashmir would cut a few corners. But the Indian cuisine offered here is high quality, and reasonably priced for the neighborhood. Specialties like achari goat (goat roasted with pickles and spices) and kashew mutter gobi (a curry with cauliflower, peas, cashews, herbs, and spices) are popular. Vindaloo, korma, roti, tandoor, and other classic specialties are equally satisfying. Whether dining inside or people-watching on the patio, Kashmir is a classic spot for Indian food in Boston.

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House of Kebab
Photograph: Courtesy House of Kebab

13. House of Kebab

Restaurants Indian Somerville

Casual and comfortable, Somerville’s House of Kebab serves hearty and flavorful classics with a large selection of kebabs. Standards like samosas, tikka masala, dosas, and biryani are favorites, and the various kebab platters (featuring different meats and spices), naan wraps, and regional curries are worth sampling. Try a cool mango lassi and save room for sweet, exotic desserts.

Surya Indian Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Surya Indian Cuisine

14. Surya Indian Kitchen

Restaurants Indian Cambridgeport

For more selective diners, Surya offers North Indian cuisine with wellness in mind. Vegans are welcome, gluten-free options about, and all meats are both halal and antibiotic-free. Classic dishes like biryanis, daal, and masala are flavorful, spicy, and satisfying...yet feel lighter and healthier. Sit-down dining is available, but Surya is a great option for healthy takeout.

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