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, 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. Here are the 15 best Indian restaurants around Boston, where the naan is fresh and the saag is spiced right.

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. In late 2018, the owners expanded into Newton Center with a second restaurant called House of Tandoor.

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

Himalayan Kitchen

There are plenty of Indian eats and then some at this Union Square storefront, where generous helpings of goat biryani, tandoori tangri chicken, and house-made momo are available alongside steak tips, barbecue chicken, baby back ribs, and by-the-slice pizza. Skip the palak paneer pizza, though, in favor of the Indian fare and cross-continental mashups, like the fire-roasted Punjabi-style wings with mint and fiery chili sauce.

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

best indian restaurants boston india pavilion cambridge

India Pavilion. / Photo via Facebook

India Pavilion

A Central Square landmark for nearly 40 years, this spot has had ample time to hone its North Indian entrées. You can taste that devotion in dishes such as the lamb vindaloo, 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 a few steps underground in Kenmore Square, serving up numerous lunch specialties ranging from beef bhuna (a thick curry with onions and tomatoes), to deeply savory goat curry (just watch out for bones!). Save room for sweets like milky 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 continue to draw crowds—as does the stacked daily lunch buffet, and the full bar with drinks like rum-spiked mango lassi.

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

Mehak

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

329 Sumner St., East Boston, 617-567-1900, mehakhalal.com.

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 house-made breads, vegetarian options, and modern specialties like pork vindaloo, and the vegan-friendly subz panchmael, a cardamom-scented stir-fry of peppers, artichokes, asparagus.

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.

Punjab Indian Restaurant

This comfortably elegant Arlington dining room offers a view into the open kitchen, where the staff is preparing Punjabi classics like a mild and creamy malai kofta, and tandoori lamb chops. But the South Indian-style dosas are also a draw.

485 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, 781-643-0943, punjabarlington.com.

Punjab Palace 

There’s plenty of North Indian fare here, from vegetarian and meat curries, to house-made paneer with a spicy chili sauce. Spice-seekers, take note: this spot will hike up the heat if you ask. 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.

Punjabi Dhaba

Indian food cart-style trays heaped with steaming vindaloo, assorted chaatstuffed parathas, and more make it easy to see why this small Inman Square spot is always so busy. The unpretentious eatery—a sister spot to stalwart India Pavilion—serves up some of the city’s finest Punjabi-style snacks, curries, and breads.

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

Shanti Restaurant

With locations in Dorchester, Roslindale, and Cambridge, seeking out Shanti is the easy part. Choosing what to eat from the sprawling menu of fragrant bhuna, korma, and jhalfrezi (a thick, green chili-spiced curry) 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 an Indian spot in 2016, and immediately found a cult following with locals, 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.


Jacqueline Cain contributing reporting.