The Best Indian Restaurants in Boston

Spice up your life with authentic chicken tikka masala and lamb tandoori in Cambridge, West Roxbury, and beyond.

best indian restaurants boston shanti cambridge

A spread of food at Shanti in Cambridge. / Photo provided

Given the continued rise of artisan pizza spots, sushi burritos, and other food trends in Boston, quality Indian cuisine can sneak under the radar. But in reality, there are plenty of places specializing in curry-fueled, tandoori-fired fare around town—though we’ll be sad to say goodbye to the stellar South Asian plates from chef Gita Kantrow when she finishes up her Wink & Nod residency later this month. To take up the torch, here are 15 of the best Indian restaurants around Boston, where the naan is fresh and the saag is spiced right.

Barbecue International

Despite the name, there are plenty of Indian eats at this Union Square storefront, where generous helpings of chicken tikka masala and kathi rolls are available alongside steak tips, barbecue chicken, baby back ribs, and by-the-slice pizza. Skip the palak paneer pizza, though, in favor of Indian fare and cross-continental mashups, like the fire-roasted Punjabi-style wings with mint and chili sauce.

40 Bow St., Union Square, Somerville, 617-623-9068, bbqinternationalmenu.com.

Himalayan Bistro

This West Roxbury institution has helped define what Nepali and Indian dining can be in Boston, with a breadth of fresh roti breads, dosa, addictive fried pakora and plump momo, and other Himalayan comforts.

1735 Centre St., West Roxbury, 617-325-3500, himalayanbistro.net.

best indian restaurants boston india pavilion cambridge

India Pavilion. / Photo via Facebook

India Pavilion

Over more than 30 years, this Cambridge dining option has had ample time to hone its North Indian entrées. You can taste that devotion in dishes such as the lamb saag, chicken korma, or just about anything served during the daily lunch buffet.

17 Central Sq., Cambridge, 617-547-7463, indiapavilion.co.

India Quality

This North Indian spot is tucked away in Kenmore Square, serving up numerous lunch specialties ranging from beef bhuna with onions and tomatoes to deeply savory goat curry (just watch out for bones!). Save room for sweets like coconutty kheer pudding, and house-made kulfi ice cream.

484 Commonwealth Ave., Fenway/Kenmore, 617-267-4499, indiaquality.com.

The Maharaja

After a fire shuttered this sparkling spot for most of 2015, the team bounced back and have continued to dish out tandoori specialties and vegetarian fare. The second-story view of Harvard Square and the ornate Indian décor remain—as does the stacked daily lunch buffet with plenty of options for any appetite.

57 John F. Kennedy St., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-547-2757, maharajaboston.com.

Mehak

This Eastie haunt is cash only, tiny, and a tad unsuspecting from the outside. But once you bite into one of the samosas, or get a whiff of the curries the kitchen is cooking up, you’ll see why locals continue to flock to this Jeffries Point gem.

329 Sumner St., Eastie, 617-567-1900.

best indian restaurants boston naan at mela south end

Naan at Mela in the South End. / Photo by snowpea&bokchoi via Flickr/Creative Commons

Mela

The South End spot has no shortage of soups, vegetarian options, like fried malai kofta in a cream sauce, and protein-laden rice entrées—and an entire menu section an entire menu devoted to organic eats. But if you’re dining in, try out the do-it-yourself, hot stone cooking.

578 Tremont St., South End, 617-859-4805, melaboston.com.

Passage to India

A large selection of snackable pakoras set the stage for house specialties like goat madras, cooked with potatoes and ginger; and the bhindi masala with okra. If you find yourself up North, opt to visit the restaurant’s other outpost in Salem.

1900 Massachusetts Ave., Porter Square, Cambridge, 617-497-6113, 157 Washington St., Salem, 978-832-2200, passageindia.com.

Punjabi Dhaba

Indian food cart-style trays heaped with steaming vindaloo, assorted chaat, stuffed parathas and more make it easy to see why this quaint Inman Square spot is so busy. The unpretentious eatery serves up some of the city’s finest Punjabi-style snacks, curries, and breads.

225 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-547-8272, punjabidhaba.co.

Punjab Palace 

There’s plenty of North Indian grub here, from vegetarian and meat curries, and house-made paneer with a spicy chili sauce, to refreshing mango lassi—and spice-seekers, take note: this spot is known to hike up the heat. Make your order, then pull up a chair and catch a Bollywood flick on one of the restaurant’s TVs.

109 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-254-1500, punjabpalace.com.

Royal Bengal

The Bengali-leaning spot spent around 15 years in Central Square serving fresh breads and kasha mangsho curry—a classic Kolkata goat stew. Owner Gita Mazumdar moved her operation to a smaller space in Winter Hill in 2014, but her traditional dishes have remained just as noteworthy. Stop in and try them for yourself when the proprietor returns from vacation next month.

364 Medford St., Somerville, 617-491-1988, bengalicafe.com.

Shanti Restaurant

With locations in Dorchester, Roslindale, and now Cambridge, seeking out Shanti is the easy part. Choosing what to eat from the sprawling menu of fragrant bhunakorma, and  jhalfrezie dishes is a bit more difficult.

1111 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, 617-929-3900, and other locations, shantiboston.com.

best indian restaurants boston Surya Indian Kitchen and Catering cambridge

Surya Indian Kitchen + Catering. / Photo via Facebook

Surya Indian Kitchen + Catering

Cambridgeport gained its newest Indian spot last summer, and it’s already found a cult following with local residents. That’s largely due to attention to customers’ dietary restrictions: all dishes are nut- and gluten-free, and all meats are certified halal. Try a Hyderabadi-style biryani with a cooling raita, or the hearty lentil daal.

114 Magazine St., Cambridge, 617-945-5489, suryaindiancaterers.com.

Tikki Masala

The menu at this Jamaica Plain go-to has it all: garlicky goat korma, tangy vindaloo, plenty of paneer, and much more. The restaurant’s South Indian roots especially shine through with its assortment of crispy dosa and vada lentil doughnuts.

3706 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, 617-942-2966, tikki-masala.com.

Udupi Bhavan

The all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet at this Lowell gem has garnered enough praise on its own. Coupled with an array of dosa options, vegetarian choices, and weekly specials, and this South Indian restaurant is more than worth the trip.

1717 Middlesex St. #3, Lowell, 978-654-6653, udupibhavan.net.