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A trio of wing plates from Pijja Palace
Order chicken wings coated in Indian spices and herbs and served with curry leaf ranch and yogurt stilton, along with malai rigatoni pasta and green chutney pizza at the stylish Silver Lake sports pub Pijja Palace.
(Shelby Moore / For The Times)

8 trailblazing L.A. restaurants for a taste of modern Indian cuisine

There’s never been a better time to try Indian food in Los Angeles. Traditional cooking from across the subcontinent is abundant here: crispy, paper-thin dosas filled with warmly spiced potatoes, Mumbai-style street foods like tangy chaat and spicy vada pav, heaping bowls full of meat-laden biryani and copper pots of bright red chicken tikka masala.

And in recent years, more local Indian chefs have highlighted regional South Asian cuisine alongside creative spins on traditional dishes that fold in California produce and draw from the diversity of communities that call this city home.

On Melrose Avenue, chef Anmoldeep Khinda of Roots Indian Bistro pulls from his childhood growing up in Los Angeles as he reimagines Indian flavors with dosa quesadillas and chalupas made with spicy channa, along with Indian-inspired takes on pasta that his father Paramjit Singh first began serving to Angelenos at Ciao Pasadena in the ’90s.

“We’re embracing the culture around us and not just seeing it as one cuisine but one that can mesh with others,” says Khinda.

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Similarly, when the Mahendro family opened Badmaash in downtown L.A. in 2013, they were intent on creating a new kind of Indian restaurant that was completely different from the traditional buffet-style spots they grew up with in Toronto.

“We knew we wanted it to be from my and my brother’s perspectives,” says co-owner Nakul Mahendro. That meant eschewing tropes — burgundy carpets, brass accents and wicker baskets of garlic naan — and adding dishes such as Parle-G ice cream sandwiches and chicken tikka masala poutine, which piles beef gravy, cheese curds, tandoori chicken tikka and cilantro on masala-spiced fries, to the menu.

Mahendro takes great pride in shaping the future of Indian dining in L.A. “It’s really this young, uncensored and raw energy that keeps us motivated to do more — to push this cuisine and culture further,” he said. “India has been dope since the ancient times, America is just starting to find out.”

More than a decade since Badmaash opened, the city’s modern Indian culinary scene is showing no signs of slowing down. When Avish Naran opened Pijja Palace in Silver Lake in 2022, the stylish sports bar that pairs Indian flavors with pub grub became an instant hit. Two years later, the hype has yet to fade, and it remains one of the most sought-after reservations in the city.

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Naran credits the restaurant’s success partially to the culture of support within the local desi culinary community, adding that the Mahendro family has made themselves available to him anytime he’s had a question. Now, both parties are expanding into Indian Chinese cuisine: The Mahendro family began their Hakka Hakka pop-up late last year, and Naran recently announced his upcoming Indian pan-Asian venture called Schezwan Club. But rather than viewing each other as competitors, both Naran and the Mahendros note a sense of community and camaraderie and a desire to see each other succeed.

“What is there to gatekeep? I like Indian pasta; I would love to have it somewhere else,” Naran says. “At the end of the day, I don’t stand to lose anything by helping anyone. I want to see more people not be afraid to execute their vision in a way that’s personal to them.”

With new pop-ups, chef residencies and restaurants, there are plenty of places to get acquainted with L.A.’s current South Asian dining scene. Locals and tourists alike flock to some of the city’s best restaurants to try pizzas laden with chutneys, tacos stuffed with meats marinated in Indian spices and a range of reinvented traditional dishes. From Laguna Niguel to downtown L.A. to Long Beach, here are eight modern Indian favorites.

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Pistachio lamb chops from Arth Bar & Kitchen.
(Arth Bar & Kitchen)

Arth Bar & Kitchen

Culver City Indian $$
For aerospace engineer and L.A. native Mihir Lad, opening Arth Bar & Kitchen in 2021 was the realization of a childhood dream. Lad recalls frequenting traditional Indian restaurants with his family while growing up and wanting to help shape the evolving scene in his hometown.

Arth Bar & Kitchen celebrates the Indian restaurants Lad grew up with while also innovating the existing framework. “One of the more classic, known Indian restaurant tropes is having a weekend buffet. Once a month, I like to throw a brunch day party that utilizes the traditional buffet model, but I also have bottomless mimosas, a Bollywood DJ and a dance floor,” he says.

The Culver City restaurant offers traditional, regional Indian cuisine along with more modern creations. There are lamb truffle seekh kebabs, fries topped with curry gravy and mozzarella cheese, chicken or paneer tikka tacos and wings topped with Old Monk rum. There’s also avocado bhel, where the fruit adds creaminess to the crunchy, sweet, spicy and tangy street food, and desi-inspired cocktails made with curry leaves, tamarind, mango, chile, rose and cardamom.

“While it’s important to evolve, it is essential that we stay true to our roots and bring people what they love most about Indian food, which is the flavor. It’s finding that balance which is most important,” says Lad.
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This month chef Sujan Sarkar brought his modern-indian take on the gastropub to Los Angeles, offering Bollywood-inspired cocktails and artful interpretations of classic items such as chaats, butter chicken and nihari.
(Neil John Burger / Baar Baar)

Baar Baar

Downtown L.A. Indian $$
Baar Baar added plenty of glamour to downtown’s Indian dining scene when it opened in 2023. The hospitality group behind the restaurant has another location in New York, along with several restaurants in Chicago and beyond, but chef Sujan Sarkar says he created his L.A. menu with Angelenos in mind, showcasing dishes created specifically for the region, like the Kashmiri duck birria tacos.

The cocktails at Baar Baar are exemplary, including a riff on a negroni made with Darjeeling tea and named after the 1953 Bollywood film “Anarkali.” Worthwhile starters include avocado pachadis with crisped rotis and dosas, as well as a chutney set that features a mango and tomatillo chundo and an extra-spicy fermented chile chutney, both of which reimagine Gujarati condiments. The dahi puri riffs on the Mumbai street food staple with a yogurt mousse and raspberry chaat masala, while the avocado bhel adds green chickpea and edamame hummus. Other standout dishes include the brie pakoda and the chicken malai tikka made with Amul cheese.
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(Ricardo DeAratanha)

Badmaash

Downtown L.A. Indian $$
When Badmaash entered L.A.’s dining scene over a decade ago, it was one of few spots providing a diasporic Indian experience rife with nostalgia. With brothers Nakul and Arjun Mahendro at the helm alongside their father, the restaurant combined Indian and Western flavors via spice-battered, double-fried chicken; broccolini with mustard oil; and channa masala poutine that’s customizable for vegetarians and vegans.

Now with a second location on Fairfax, the Mahendro family’s signature Indian Canadian flair extends to Indian Chinese cuisine in the form of Hakka Hakka, a pop-up through which they share classics like the eponymous Hakka noodles, hot and sour soup and cabbage and corn Manchurian.
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Pani puri poppers from Cali Chilli restaurant.
(Luciano Picazo / Cali Chilli)

Cali Chilli

Long Beach Indian $$
Long Beach’s Cali Chilli is named for black pepper, or kali mirch in Hindi. Owner Praveen Nair opened the restaurant in May 2022, following the debut of Yellow Chilli in Tustin two years prior. While Nair’s debut focuses on more traditional cuisine from chef Sanjeev Kapoor, the sequel features American, Mexican and Southeast Asian influences, all under the guidance of chef Manjunath Mural.

There’s an eggplant bharta lasagna, made with tandoor-roasted eggplant sandwiched between layers on paneer instead of pasta, giving the dish extra creaminess. A butter chicken pot pie features Britain’s national dish under flaky layers of puff pastry. There are also pani puri poppers — deep-fried, hollow puri shells stuffed with potatoes and chickpeas, placed on top of shot glasses filled with spicy, minty water; salty buttermilk; or sweet mango juice.

“Chef Mural and I collaborated to create a menu that transcended cultural boundaries, appealing not just to those of Indian descent but to all culinary enthusiasts across Southern California,” Nair says. ”Cali Chilli emerged in a predominantly non-Indian neighborhood, a testament to the growing appreciation for Indian flavors.”

Nair and team plan to expand to another location in Little Tokyo this July.
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Smoked burrata dish from Kahani at the Ritz-Carlton.
(The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel)

Kahani

Dana Point Indian $$$
What started as a Diwali pop-up in October 2023 has become a permanent residency at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, serving as proof of chef de cuisine Sanjay Rawat’s lasting appeal.

Today, the menu at Kahani includes dishes like masala paneer en croute, with cubes of paneer and rice baked in pastry dough and served with a creamy tomato sauce. The chaat is some of the best available in the U.S. or in India, made with layers of hearty spinach fritters and garbanzos; tart pomegranate, mango and tamarind; spicy mint chutney; and a thick swirl of sturdy, sweet, salty yogurt mousse. The cardamom corn bisque is delightful, packed with enough of the spice to be considered anything but subtle and accompanied by perfectly charred ciabatta. The ajwain scallop rests atop a smooth cauliflower cream and tender okra masala. In all, it’s some of the most creative Indian fare in California, and worth making a trek for.
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A pizza from Pijja Palace
(Stan Lee)

Pijja Palace

Silver Lake Indian Pizza $$
Since opening in spring 2022, Pijja Palace has been an L.A. mainstay, known for its iconic green chutney pizza, malai rigatoni and Indian-inspired drinks. Owner Avish Naran and his team have created a third-culture space, one that plays with modern Indian cooking in a way that feels delightfully irreverent and playful.

In many ways, the opening of the Indian American sports bar and its subsequent success has served as a catalyst to the local dining scene, inspiring more chefs and restaurateurs to present South Asian flavors in fresh and innovative ways. The fact that Pijja Palace is still a hard table to score two years after opening is proof that local diners are more than receptive to this new wave of modern Indian dining. “We don’t need to be New Jersey or New York, we just need to be L.A. We’ll grow that identity together,” Naran says. “We’ll pioneer that movement.”

Naran recently announced the opening of Schezwan Club, an Indian pan-Asian concept that will pull from China, Singapore and Thailand and feature a strong sambal program.
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Mac and cheese pakoras from Roots Indian Bistro.
(Manni Singh)

Roots Indian Bistro

Fairfax Indian $$
Since 2020, Paramjit Singh and his son Anmoldeep Khinda have shared modern Indian-driven takes on beloved staples at Roots Indian Bistro, including mac and cheese pakoras, naan bruschetta, butter chicken wings, vindaloo dumplings and dosa quesadillas.

Khinda says these menu items are odes to different parts of L.A. and the flavors of his childhood. “I grew up in Alhambra and that’s why we have dumplings on the menu. I went to school in the Valley and would be around a lot of Latino culture, so that’s why we have a dosa quesadilla on the menu, just fusing those two flavors together.”

The menu also features an homage to a fast-food favorite: Taco Bell’s chalupa, but made with channa stuffed into a bhatura shell, topped with diced onions and chutneys. Indian-inspired pastas such as Kashmiri alla pasta and korma alfredo with lamb chunks are odes to dishes Singh first made at Ciao Pasadena in the ’90s. Khinda recalls that at the now-shuttered Italian spot, diners used to complain about the pastas having too much spice. Their popularity at Roots is a sign of how the times have changed. “Seeing it full circle and people appreciating the fusion now — it’s amazing,” Kninda says.
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A spread of dishes from Shor restaurant
(Shor Restaurant)

Shor

Hawaiian Gardens Indian Afghan Pakistani $$
Named after the Urdu or Hindi word for noise, Shor in Hawaiian Gardens is designed to feel like a nightclub, at any time of day. Founder and executive chef Imran “Ali” Mookhi serves halal cuisine that pulls from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mookhi, who also owns Fullerton’s Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen, previously owned Tantra in Silver Lake and worked at Tumbi in Santa Monica. At Shor, which opened in February 2024, Mookhi says he aims to serve a modern take on traditional dishes from the region.

The menu features a strong farm-to-table focus, including produce from local farmers markets. There are traditional South Asian dishes, but made using more modern techniques. Mookhi’s chapli kebab, for example, features a traditional spice blend — including coriander, cumin, caraway, carom, mango powder, fenugreek leaves, pomegranate seeds and long pepper — but upgraded with Australian Wagyu beef. The goat cheese kulcha is made with a hint of truffle oil and comes with a small serving of creamy tomato dipping sauce. Quintessential dahi puri is crafted carefully with small, layered bits of spiced potatoes, roasted cumin seeds, sweet and spicy chutneys and a dollop of sweet yogurt, all sitting on a bed of chevdo — cornflakes roasted with a range of warm and tart spices. A variety of nonalcoholic cocktails from head mixologist Ahmad Hosseini, along with desserts from executive pastry chef Mark Medin, tie it all together.
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