We like to think we have pretty good taste here at FLARE HQ, so we’re continuing to recommend our go-to places in our homebase of Toronto. First, we did the tough, tough work of trying the city’s best bakeries to round up our faves. Next up on the list: the FLARE team’s list of Toronto’s best Indian restaurants. Whether you’re looking for dosa or roti, these 10 spots are guaranteed to have something that will hit the spot. Get ready to treat your taste buds to pure deliciousness (and spice!).
The lowdown: Cumin’s bright, colourful atmosphere is only one reason of many to pay it a visit. It has just the right feel: cozy but still energetic. Add in a delightful staff and some super tasty food? You’ll never want to leave. They have lovely booths in the back, perfect for larger groups, and they also have a cute bar up near the front for loners like me.
Must-order: Can’t choose which meat you want? The tandoori platter gives you chicken, fish *and* lamb. If you’re not a meat-eater, they have a whole vegetarian menu. The sabji korma serves you fresh veggies in cashew sauce, and it’s as good as you’d think. —Blythe Hunter, contributor
Find it: 7071 Airport Road
The lowdown: China Garden has been a tradition among my family and friends for as long as I can remember. This Hakka restaurant offers a mix of Indian and Chinese flavours that are well worth the trip out to this hidden gem, located in a strip mall near Toronto’s Pearson Airport. I’ve been going for decades and love it a bit more every time.
Must-order: Manchurian vegetable (pakora style) with gravy, which, in this instance, means with sauce. —Ishani Nath, contributor
Maja Indian Cuisine
Find it: 345 Bloor Street East; majaindiancuisine.wixsite.com
The lowdown: It would be extremely accurate to say that Indian food is my absolute fave. Toronto is truly blessed with many delicious spots, but my go-to is a little hole-in-the-wall tucked away at Bloor and Sherbourne. Maja serves cafeteria-style and has a few tables if you choose to eat-in. Two hot counters are packed with a bevy of fresh dishes. As a leaf eater, I appreciate that their vegetarian options are in their own counter. As a pig, I appreciate the giant portions for such little money.
Must-order: The combo ($9 for veg, $12 for meat)! It includes salad, rice, your choice of daal along with two (!!!) sides PLUS naan. How even?! Everything is great, but their palak paneer and eggplant delight (confirmed to be delightful) are always winners. —Amy Valm, contributor
The lowdown: Let me say this: I’ve been to several Indian restaurants in the GTA, but nothing compares to Bombay Bhel Thornhill (seriously, I’ve been eating there for the past 15 years or so). All the dishes are rich and flavourful with just the right amount of aromatic spices. It may be a bit far out for city folk, but it’s most definitely worth the trek.
Must-order: If you’re not great with spicy food, the butter chicken with garlic naan is the move. If you can handle spice, go for the lamb vindaloo. —Madelyn Chung, contributor
The lowdown: There’s a little strip on Bloor Street near Christie Pits where, if you’re on foot (or have the windows down), you’re hit by spicy, savoury aromas so delicious you’ll want to abandon whatever you’re doing and go eat the source of this incredible smell. And you should, because it’s Banjara, a Toronto staple since 2003 (and so popular that a second location was added on Eglinton). Don’t be fazed by the restaurant’s faded sign and unassuming decor—they belie the authentic parade of flavours served up here.
Must-order: Banjara is renowned for its butter chicken—said by many to be the best in the city—which has just the right balance of sweetness and spice. For the vegetarians, the baingan bharta, tandoor-baked eggplant mashed with tomatoes, spices and cream, is an absolute winner, and there’s even a vegan mushroom curry that’s so good it won’t feel anything like a sacrifice. —Ciara Rickard, contributor
Durbar Indian Cuisine
Find it: 2469 Bloor Street West; durbar.ca
The lowdown: In the name of transparency, I should disclose that I haven’t eaten a *ton* of Indian food in Toronto (a Vancouverite here!), but of the Indian cuisine I’ve had in the 6ix, Durbar is by far my fave. The restaurant itself is pretty standard, but you definitely don’t come for the aesthetic; I love that it’s a simple, straightforward place that focuses on serving tasty, authentic food.
Must-order: My must-order dish is the aloo gobi. Is there anything better than cauliflower and potato? The answer is no. It’s a pretty simple dish, but Durbar does it to perfection. Paired with garlic naan—*chefs kiss*. —Katherine Singh, assistant editor
Mother India Roti
Find it: 1456 Queen Street West; motherindiaroti.com
The lowdown: When my best friend comes to Toronto to visit, she always has a single burning request: We have to order from Mother India. She lived here a decade ago and despite trying countless restaurants in the intervening years, she’s still loyal to mom. You can dine in or do takeout; plus, delivery services like Foodora and Uber Eats will bring it to your front door.
Must-order: The menu includes tasty curries and biryanis, including a ton of vegetarian options, but the roti is what will leave you absolutely salivating. I’m a bit of a basic b and love the butter chicken roti, while my BFF is partial to the saag paneer with its creamy filling of pureed spinach, potatoes and homemade cottage cheese. No matter your filling, you’ll shed a tear at the sheer enormity of the roti; perfect for wolfing down or going splitsies, depending on your hunger level. —Jennifer Berry, managing editor
The lowdown: A go-to of the Gerrard India Bazaar, Udupi Palace is the place to get your cheap and cheerful fix of vegetarian South Indian cuisine. (While the atmosphere is a little rough around the edges, the warm service and family-friendly vibes make up for it!)
Must order: Udupi is famous for its dosas, which you can’t easily find at any Indian restaurant in town—and they have 18 different kinds on the menu. For the uninitiated, dosas are large, thin and crispy South Indian crepes typically made of rice and lentil flour and filled with all sorts of deliciousness, such as masala-spiced potatoes, onions, chutneys and paneer. Try one of their ginormous “paper dosas,” which are a few feet long and aim to impress. —Claire Sibonney, contributor
The lowdown: This bright and cozy spot offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries, roti and biryani dishes that have been touched by the homestyle magic of head chef John Arockiaraj’s mother’s recipes. Their portions are generous and flavourful, and I often end up splitting a dish into two separate meals.
Must-order: I always re-order Grandma’s Karahi Roti in varying degrees of spiciness depending on how adventurous (or reckless) I feel. Maybe it’s the maternal branding of the dish’s name, but regardless, it’s filled with deliciously aromatic curry with bell peppers and my favourite choice of protein: chicken. —Elham Numan, contributor
The lowdown: This Junction staple is a great spot for date night or a catch-up with a pal—it’s got a relaxed atmosphere and the portions are just the right size for two. They offer delivery too, but you don’t want to miss a chance to dine in and chat with the lovely wait staff, who seriously make you feel like family, even if you’re only an occasional regular.
Must-order: Curry Twist has my fave saag paneer in the city—perfectly creamy with just a hit of mustard spiciness. Paired with garlic naan and handmade samosas, it’s the ultimate comfort food I go back for again and again. — Charlotte Herrold, editor-in-chief