Indian cuisine isn’t a monolith. The Republic of India is home to a vast array of culinary styles, flavors, and ingredients, from North India’s thick curries and sauces to the herby, coconut milk – based dishes of South India. And that’s an extremely broad brush; we haven’t even dissected the varieties of street eats, seafood, and desserts that can vary from region to region.
Luckily for us, Houstonians can experience some of this diversity right here at home. So, which is the best Indian restaurant in Houston? Depends who you ask. And where they’re from. Here are our top picks.
Aga’s reputation precedes itself: chances are, you loved their food before actually dining at their Wilcrest Drive location. Located smack-dab in the middle of a conventional strip mall, Aga’s Restaurant & Catery is a catering fan-favorite for large gatherings, celebrations, and more. This Indo-Pak restaurant and banquet hall has a wide-ranging menu (with pictures!), Offers top-rated service, and consistently serves some of the best traditional Indian and Pakistani dishes in the Greater Houston area. Aga’s goat chops and various vindaloo dishes are especially beloved, but you can’t go wrong with anything at this Indian-Pakistani mainstay.
Da Gama canteen might be home to the most fascinating fusion cuisine out of all of Houston’s newest Indian restaurants. Opened in 2021 at The MKT in the Heights, this eatery encompasses the tastes of Goa, a former Portuguese-Indian territory, with a Bayou City spin. Da Gama’s effortlessly stylish space does triple duty, serving coffee, chai, and baked goods on their wood-paneled patio most mornings. Then, the lunchtime hours bring out an assortment of curries, along with dishes like grilled cheese infused with green chili chutney and Portuguese salted cod fritters served with oregano chutney. You’ll want to stick around for social hour and dinner, too: Da Gama’s rotating happy hour menu features unique craft cocktails and light bites, and the dinner menu boasts an assortment of vegetarian dishes, seafood, curries, and much more.
Food, culture, and history are deeply intertwined, as you’ll experience for yourself at The Monk’s. This Indo-Chinese restaurant traces its flavors back to the city of Kolkata, where this unique fusion, described by Kolkata native Nayantara Duttaas as “an Indian interpretation of Chinese food,” originated around the late 1700s. At The Monk’s, traditional Chinese and Indian entrées are served alongside dishes that marry some of the flair characteristic of each respective cuisine, like Desi-style noodles tossed with paneer and Sichuan spices. With locations near Washington Avenue and on Westheimer Road, you can get your Indo-Chinese fix both inside and outside the 610 Loop.
Named after a coastal city in Southern India, Udipi Cafe proudly serves South Indian vegetarian cuisine. Fan favorites include Udipi’s generous serving of masala dosa, a crisp and savory crepe filled with spiced potatoes, and filter coffee, a South Indian signature sip. Also called filter filter, filter coffee is not your typical brew; sugar, slowly brewed coffee, and hot milk are carefully combined in what’s called “the stretch,” the final step of brewing filter kaapi that makes for a perfectly blended and aerated cup of joe. So, what’s the secret? Once the coffee’s ingredients are combined, the coffee concoction is poured back and forth between the drinking vessel and a second vessel, sometimes a small cup or bowl. But no matter your choice of food or drink, Udipi Cafe, located near Hillcroft and in Sugar Land and Katy, is a traditional staple that shouldn’t be missed.
Maharaja Bhog, located just off US 59 South near Gessner Road, is known for its tasty vegetarian thali. A Hindi word for a large plate or platter, thali dining is a dream (that is, if sampling a variety of dishes and flavors on one large platter is your dream). Think of it as an endless buffet on one plate, and at Maharaja Bhog, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Your dining experience at the restaurant is complete with appetizers, entrées, a beverage, and dessert, all inspired by recipes sourced from India’s Gujarat and Rajasthan states. Plus, vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free diets are welcome here too.
Shri Balaji Bhavan is a family-owned restaurant specializing in South Indian vegetarian dishes. Here, you’ll find staple dishes like masala dosa and a wide selection of chaat, snack-like street eats that are meant to light up every taste bud with their combinations of flavors and textures. Shri Balaji Bhavan has a dozen types of chaat to choose from, including samosa chaat, Indo-Chinese fusion chaat, and a mixed chaat filled with a little bit of everything. Fun fact: you can even get your own dosa batter here to take home!
For upscale Indian eats, head to Musaafer in the Galleria. Musaafer’s wide-ranging menu is based on their two chefs’ travels to 29 regions in India, where their inspirations have included hand-picked saffron sourced from northern Kashmir, Mangalore’s bright, coastal-inspired chicken curry with kori roti, and dishes and brews inspired by indigenous tribes in India’s Northeast corner. And those are only a few of the dishes and places that contribute to the grand vision and dining experience you’ll find at Musaafer.
For a sampling of a variety of Indian flavors and mainstays, try India’s Restaurant for lunch. India’s lunch buffet is perfect for both the uninitiated to Indian cuisine and connoisseurs of tandoor oven classics like tandoori chicken and fresh naan. Each day from 11 am to 2:30 pm, 19 hot and cold dishes are served at India’s buffet, including salads, vegetable sides, and curries. India’s dinner options are sure to delight, too, from seafood specialties and delicious tandoori dishes to vegetarian and vegan meals as well.
Another can’t-miss eat in the heart of Houston’s Mahatma Gandhi District, the formal name of the South Asian community around Hillcroft, is Neeta’s Indian Cuisine. Beloved for their authentic North Indian and Indo-Chinese eats — including staples like butter chicken, goat chops, and tons of vegetarian specials — you can’t go wrong at Neeta’s.
Another Southwest Freeway favorite, Shiv Sagar serves up Gujarati and South Indian street flavors with a modern flair. This vegetarian restaurant offers an assortment of dishes, including several types of dosas, chaat, and spins on popular street dishes like pav bhaji (a thick vegetable curry served with a roll) and halwa puri sabji (a breakfast dish featuring deep-fried bread and a sweet filling). Fans love Shiv Sagar for its well-priced, wide-ranging menu.
Anita Jaisinghani’s fast-casual café, a hit since it opened in 2011, offers Gulf Coast – Indian fusion fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sure, an order of saag paneer and butter chicken might be the most basic of Indian food orders, but the punchy creaminess of the former and the gentle heat of the latter prov that even with everyday dishes, Jaisinghani is a cut above the rest. No meal at Pondicheri would be complete without ordering a thali, a traditional Indian-style meal made up of a selection of dishes that is served on a platter. Thalis at Pondicheri include the Vishnu, featuring aviyal, beet soup, smoked eggplant, sesame saag, and carrot roti; and the Texan, featuring butter chicken, kalonji lamb chop, ghee mashed potatoes, lamb keema, smoked eggplant, and garlic naan.