Indian food in Denver keeps getting better, with options representing a greater range of regions and styles. And while there are plenty of traditional menus to choose from, modern interpretations of the cuisine abound, from restaurants slinging masala French toast to “surf and turf” platters with lamb, tandoori salmon, and prawns. Here are nine places, all opened within the past few years, that are doing their part — and doing it well — to broaden Denver diners’ horizons far beyond saag paneer and chicken tikka masala.Read More
9 Flavorful Indian and South Asian Restaurants in Denver
Beyond the buffet are a dazzling range of regional specialties
Azafran Indian Cuisine & Wine Bar
With a glass-walled cellar showcasing the bottles that make up its 14-page wine list and a full bar turning out cocktails like the Dhoom Damaka with jalapeño-infused tequila and tamarind, this suburban surprise is date night–worthy — and the handsome food only seals the deal. Think “surf and turf” with lamb, tandoori salmon, and prawns; lump crab masala; and garam masala–spiced short ribs with caramelized onions in a red-wine reduction.
Himalayan Spice Indian Cuisine - Denver
Best bets on the extensive menu at this comfy-casual Berkeley spot include pakora of any kind — veggie, chicken, or calamari — as well as the coconut-based dhaniya curry with cashew and cilantro and the tangy-creamy paneer makhni. A full bar turns out fun cocktails like the Cinnamon Girl featuring rum and mango lassi.
Spice Room | Neighborhood Indian Bistro
This cozy, dim-lit Sunnyside spot (which recently opened a second location at 3100 E. Colfax) takes some liberties on its lengthy menu; note, for instance, the nontraditional use of salmon in a smattering of dishes, or the occasional nod to U.K.-style Indian food. That’s all part of the fun. Try the pani puri — paper-thin wafer shells that crack open like eggs for filling with mint water and a sort of chickpea-potato relish — and the pungent shrimp aachari.
Mint Indian Restaurant And Lounge
The menu at this downtown dark horse runs the regional gamut while offering a few uncommon flourishes: lamb-and-egg-stuffed chicken, jhalmuri (a puffed-rice snack with avocado and potato), whole tandoori fish. The kitchen handles it all deftly, so mix it up with chole bhature from the north — chickpea stew accompanied by puffy fried flatbread for sopping — and complex, earthy Chettinad-style curry. Though not quite luxe, the interior’s spruce enough for casual client lunches and pre-theater bites.
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GAIA MASALA & BURGER
And now for something completely different: At this dim-lit little Indian-American joint at the edge of Cap Hill, juicy, zesty chicken tikka masala serves as a fabulously saucy topping for everything from cheesesteaks to pizza to fries. Bigger on beef? Sure enough, there’s even a tikka masala burger.
Zaika Indian Express
For the sauteed kale and eggplant alone, this sunny fast-casual outlet at Lincoln and Speer is worth a stop, but the kitchen does everything with gusto, including a rich cilantro- and nut-based curry called lajjatdar and a deep, dark rogan josh. Sometimes the cooks behind the counter even sing while they work.
Tikka & Grill
Even the fluffy, flavorful rice hits different at this South Broadway banger, which nails standards like savory saag and crispy-soft samosas while turning out a wealth of lesser-known dishes. Don’t pass up the crunchy, salty, sweet-and-sour Bombay bhel (a type of chaat); the creamy, tomato-based makhani with chicken or lamb; or the earthy rajma and aloo (kidney bean and potato) masala.
The Madras Cafe
Even devout carnivores won’t miss the meat at this South Indian sanctuary of vegetarian fare. Centered around luscious curries based on coconut and cashews, tamarind and tomatoes, legumes and everything from mushrooms and eggplant to okra and artichokes, the menu extends to some 20 different types of dosa and snacks like medhu vadai (lentil doughnuts) and idli (steamed rice-and-lentil cakes) — plus soups, chaats, and breads galore.
Urban Village Grill
The chain-filled expanse of Park Meadows mall may seem an unlikely setting for fine Indian dining, but this way lies Urban Village Grill nevertheless. Run by Chennai-born chef Charles Mani, the kitchen puts a modern, seasonal twist on traditional fare via ingredients like kale, brussels sprouts, and butternut squash, but even classics like paneer tikka, marinated in makrut-lime yogurt, and tandoori lamb in the form of chops with basil show chefly flair; outdoor grills, meanwhile, allow diners to do it themselves, choosing proteins such as brisket or scallops along with various marinades. There’s even a weekend brunch menu offering the likes of masala French toast and pav bhaji bruschetta.