Jaipur , Rajasthan
Tel: 91 141 253 0148/49
Located within the walls of the Amber Fort, 1135AD serves up good high-end Indian food inside a dining room so opulent (lavish chandeliers, gilded chairs, turbaned guards, and portraits of royalty) it would make a maharaja blush. Set lunch and dinner thalis (both vegetarian and not) are served alongside an à la carte menu. More expensive than your average Jaipur eatery, the restaurant nonetheless delivers value for money. If you are ordering off the menu, keep an eye out for the Roomali Paneer, a delicious cheese dish with dried fruit stuffing. During starry summer evenings, ask for a table on the romantically lit terrace.—Vanessa Able
Open daily 9 am to 11 pm.
Amet Haveli Hotel
Udaipur , Rajasthan
Tel: 91 294 243 1085
It's not hard to see why Ambrai, the Hotel Amet Haveli's waterfront restaurant, is so popular with tourists. In a garden bordered on two sides by Lake Pichola, guests dine by firelight against a backdrop of Udaipur's floodlit cityscape and a soundtrack of live Rajasthani music. The food won't disappoint: Try the Mewari specialties, such as the dumpling curry, or Indian staples such as tandoori chicken and dhal makhani. Get there early or book ahead, and be sure to insist (several times if necessary) on sitting as close to the water as possible.—Vanessa Able
Open daily 7:30 am to 11 pm.
Marine Drive, near Chowpatty
Tel: 91 22 2368 8107
This is not a "House" but a hygienic, late-night street stall that has grown into a local institution, popular with everyone from cabdrivers to Malabar Hill princesses. Bachelor's is primarily a dessert haven, with an emphasis on fresh fruits, but they do serve tasty vegetarian sandwiches and the classic version of Indian pizza too. Favorites include the creamy custard apple ice cream, the fresh mango pulp, and tart jambul juice, when the fruit is in season. The green chile ice cream, while a spicy local favorite, is clearly not for everyone. Past midnight, a police van full of constables is usually spotted parked nearby. What's a round or two of free strawberry shakes to ensure the stall stays open late?
Open daily 11 am to 1 am.
Taj Holiday Village
Tel: 832 564 5858
Set in the gardens of the Taj Holiday Village, in the shade of a 300-year-old banyan tree and surrounded by a shimmering fish pond, this restaurant serves superb Thai food, such as coconut seafood soup and green papaya salad. The seafood dishes use fresh local fish and shellfish: try the poo gathi, river crabmeat in a spicy curry sauce. Every year, the restaurant brings in a chef from Thailand to refresh its menu.
Tel: 91 22 2261 5264
In the heart of the colonial business district of Ballard Estate lies this 84-year-old gem with peeling walls, marble-top tables, and indolently whirring fans that evoke the tattered grandeur of the city. Proprietor Boman Kohinoor is as old as the restaurant, and loves tottering up to customers and recounting his nostalgia for the days of British governance. But the real reason people eat at Britannia is its Indo-Persian food. The restaurant's signature dish is the spicy berry pulao, delicately marinated chunks of mutton served on a bed of aromatics and garnished with tart berries from Iran. If you have room, follow it up with some creamy caramel custard.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 12 to 4 pm.
ITC Maurya Sheraton & Towers Diplomatic Enclave
Sadar Patel Marg
Tel: 91 11 2611 2233
Housed in the ITC Maurya Sheraton & Towers in southwest Delhi, Bukhara has Flintstones–style decor, with stone walls and mock log-top tables. You can watch chefs at work in the kitchen, where meat and vegetables are skewered on kebab spears. Good choices include the murg tandoori (a whole chicken marinated in yogurt, malt vinegar, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, chili, turmeric, and garam masala); the tandoori pomfret, a whole flatfish from the Indian Ocean roasted with spices; and bharvan kulcha, a baked bread stuffed with cottage cheese. In deference to the restaurant's northwest-frontier theme, there is no cutlery, nor finger bowls: Diners are expected to tear their chicken apart with their bare hands, with only an apron for protection.
Go exploring the crowded bazaars of Chandni Chowk if you want to experience Delhi's vernacular food scene. Any local foodie worth their salt will be waiting in line for one of the dozens of varieties of chaat, or snacks, for sale from a cart or a small shop front. If you are concerned about hygiene, stick to where the crowds are, or try one of these recommendations.
On the Chandni Chowk main street, at number 1396 Natraj Dahi Bhalle Wala serves up small plates of deep-fried urad dal; Haldiram's at number 1454 is a tried-and-tested favorite with Delhi-ites. For a plethora of multicolored milk sweets, head to Annapuna Bhander at number 1463, or to the ever-popular Old Famous Jalebiwala on the corner with Dariba Kalan Road for freshly fried jalebis soaked in syrup. For a quick sit-down lunch, try the Gali Paranthe Wali, a small side street near Kinari Bazaar that features a clutch of minuscule restaurants doling out a variety of parathas stuffed with everything from cheese to potatoes, vegetables, and almonds.—Vanessa Able
4/15A Asaf Ali Road
Tel: 91 11 2327 3821
For a truly northern Indian experience, head for Chor Bizarre, on the edge of Old Delhi (other branches have opened in the newly fashionable suburb of Noida and in London's Mayfair). Chor Bazaar means "thieves market," and the chef has indeed plundered dishes from across India. Who knows where the management got the 1927 Fiat, parked in the center of the restaurant, from whose interior Bombay street snacks (chaat) are served? The highlight here is the Kashmiri thali, a set menu that changes daily, depending on what produce is available from the market, and that is named after the brass tray on which it is served. With an advance request, the restaurant will also prepare wazwan, a 40-course feast.
Pousada Tauma Porba Vaddo
Tel: 832 227 9061
An open pavilion with an intricate stone colonnade and broad benches, the Copper Bowl has a green marble floor and copper-colored lamps and bar details. Skilled renditions of Goan classics are served fromno surprisecopper pots. Try the aromatic shrimp balchao cooked with spices, chili, onions, and shrimp powder. The restaurant, which also serves some European dishes, is part of the Ayurvedic boutique hotel Pousada Taumabe sure to make a reservation if you're not staying here.
Tel: 91 2953 289 211
Thalis, or tasting menus of regional Indian dishes, are the specialty at this restaurant inside a former fortified palace turned hotel. For instance, expect spicy lamb curry from Kashmir, or coconut-based concoctions from the southern Indian region of Kerala—all served on silver platters. But what makes it most memorable (and worth the 30-minute drive from Udaipur) are the many places where you can actually have your meal. In addition to the formal restaurant, which has pleasant views of the Aravalli Hills, servers will set up a dining space inside the palace or around the grounds, depending on your whim. Perhaps you want to eat on the rooftop, with plates set on a bed of flowers, or in a courtyard beside the sound of running water, or with candlelight reflecting off mirrored walls, or in a tiny alcove with live flute music. That they can do it for you is a reflection of just how quirky the physical layout is, with all its unexpected spaces left over from the palace days.
12 Aurangzeb Road
Tel: 91 11 4133 5133
Dhaba starkly contrasts with the Art Nouveau Claridges Hotel in which it is housed. Every effort has been made to recreate a roadside eatery such as you might find along the Grand Trunk Road. The designers have even tacked the side of a Tata truck onto the wall of the restaurant. The chairs are similar in style to the charpoys upon which Indian truck drivers like to recline after a good lunch, and the waiters are dressed in a colorful version of truckers' attire. Feast on yellow dal, tandoori aloo (curried potatoes), and mattar paneer (peas with Indian cheese).
Shop No. 3
Jaipur , Rajasthan
Tel: 91 98871 54000
Hidden away on a rooftop over the row of shops at Nehru Bazaar (enter via the narrow staircase at shop no. 10), Ganesh Restaurant is a rickety, unadorned eatery serving up some of the tastiest and most authentic food in the city. Popular with and highly recommended by the merchants who work below, Ganesh offers a pure vegetarian menu of ten or so dishes. These are all prepared before your eyes (curries on a charcoal stove, bread in a tandoor) by the sweating chef in an open kitchen. The dhal is a sure hit, but if you're having trouble choosing between curries, opt for the Ganesh Special, an in-house concoction of just about everything they have in the fridge, from paneer to chickpea flour dumplings. Cash only; no alcohol.—Vanessa Able
Open daily 10 am to 11 pm.
Tel: 22 2444 0202 or 022 2444 0707
Goan cuisine has fiery flavors and tropical ingredients, and it also encompasses some Portuguese dishes (Goa was formerly a Portuguese colony). This superb restaurant is about ten miles from the heart of tourist Bombay, halfway to the airport, and a dinner there makes a magnificent last night's banquet on your way out of the city. Guests eat in a tropical-theme dining room; the amiable wait staff wear dhotis and sarongs. Try the grilled spice-rubbed tiger prawns served with three sauces: garlic butter, a Portuguese brown sauce, and a Goan masala. For dessert, don't miss bibinka, the Goan sweet of stacked coconut pancakes.
M.I. Road, opposite the General Post Office
Jaipur , Rajasthan
Tel: 91 141 236 4839
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Handi was just a sidestreet kebab stand from the humble grill that marks its entrance. Venture inside and you'll find a surprising interior resembling a village hut, with mud walls and a grass-and-bamboo ceiling. Known for its grilled meats and specialties from the tandoor, Handi is as popular with locals as it is with tourists. Try the Afghani chicken, mutton Khathi kebab, or the house specialty, called Handi Meat, which is mutton cooked in clay pots for hours over a low charcoal flame. Vegetarians won't be disappointed by the paneer tikka. Cash only; no alcohol.—Vanessa Able
Open daily noon to 3:30 pm and 6 to 11 pm.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt dined at this, Mumbai's best stand-alone restaurant, following in the footsteps of slain Wall Street Journal journalist Danny Pearl, who used to play the saxophone on a makeshift stage here. Indigo's ever-evolving menu focuses on sophisticated European fare, with some interesting local twists and turns. The gorgonzola beef tenderloin is served with a tandoor-roasted onion. The converted bungalow is divided into four distinct spaces, including a courtyard, a bar area, and an anteroom, but none is more enchanting than the fairy-lit open-air terrace where old-money types gather to see and be seen. The atmosphere is a little more laid-back at Indigo Deli, a sister restaurant located a few streets north, serving soups, salads, sandwiches, and high-quality comfort foodjust ask the hordes of hungover hipsters digging into eggs and waffles on Sunday afternoons.
Open daily 9 am to midnight.
2325 Lal Ghat
Tel: 91 294 242 0133
A secret of Udaipur dining is that it's not essential to have a view from the incredible Taj Lake Palace, situated inside the lake, but to have one of it. And few restaurants have as romantic a view as the one atop the Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel, especially in the evening, when the Lake Palace is lit up like a liner getting ready to depart from port. The food here tends more toward North Indian than Rajasthani (tandoori chicken, various yogurt dishes), which is no great crime—unless you happen to be in Rajasthan. And the waiters could afford to take a few lessons in graciousness from the waiters at the Taj Lake Palace's Neel Kamal (on second thought, considering the prices at the Taj Lake, maybe they couldn't afford to take lessons over there). But when you are settled into one of the alcoves, and the candlelight is flickering, and the Lake Palace is aglow, it's hard not to imagine that your ship has come in.
Nariman Point, Colaba
Tel: 22 2202 4343 ext. 6111 or 22 5632 5757
This upscale restaurant has linen-clothed tables, maroon banquettes, and mirrored pillars. The cuisine is northern Indianbut updated, so that it's subtler and lighter. Diners can watch as chefs prepare delicacies in the glass-fronted kitchen. As you wait, nibble on khakras, (crispy flatbreads famous in the city of Surat) served with the house chutneys, including a perky green one made with coriander and raw mango. Be sure to try the salmon ka tikka, cubes of salmon marinated in dill, fennel, ginger, honey, and mustard oil, then roasted in the tandoor.
Matiya Mahal, opposite Hotel Bombay Orient
Tel: 11 2326 9880
Hidden away down a narrow passage, this renowned institution has been trading since 1913 and still serves the best grilled meat in town, the chicken tikka being a particular favorite. The restaurant specializes in Mughlai-style food. The Mughals invaded India in the sixteenth century, and their rich, intricate cuisine uses lots of milk, cream, spices, dried fruit and nuts. Karim's is also famous for its brain curry, should you be brave enough to try it.
ITC Grand Central Sheraton
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Road
Tel: 91 22 2410 1010
Giant skewers stacked with meat, chicken, and fish line the walls of this immaculately clean open kitchen in the Sheraton. Chefs deftly slide the well-rubbed kebabs into glowing tandoors, or clay ovens, nurturing them until they explode with flavors like fenugreek, cumin, and pepper. The focus is traditional Mughlai and Nizami cooking, though the chefs at this sprawling restaurant have also developed their own exciting recipes, most notably the oven-cooked jumbo shrimp split and stuffed with crumbled potatoes, spices, and pomegranate seeds. There are extensive vegetarian selections, very popular with the city's legions of wealthy vegetarians.
Open daily 12:30 to 2:30 pm and 7:30 to 11:30 pm.
145 Mahatma Gandhi Road
Tel: 22 2267 3227 or 22 2267 3228
Khyber has a Northwest Frontier feel: Its low, beamed ceiling is intended to evoke a haveli, a mansion typical of that part of the country. Paintings by some of India's most famous artists decorate the walls. The restaurant is known for its northern-style meat-based kebabs and tandooris. Try a tender, flavorful reshmi kebab, chicken marinated in yogurt with mild spices and cooked on a skewer. In addition to beer and soft drinks, the restaurant has a short list of Indian wines, all from Maharashtra state. Soothe your palate with kulfi (Indian ice cream) or gajar halwa (available in winter only), a sweet pudding made from red carrots. Reservations are advised.
90 Cuffe Parade
Tel: 91 22 6665 0808
Fashioned after a seaside bungalow on India's palm-fringed southwest coast, the Konkan Café is the Taj President hotel's tribute to the coconut-rich cuisine of the areas that stretch between Mumbai and Karnataka. Start with a traditional predinner tumbler of sol kadhi, a milky blend of kokum fruit and coconut. The menu is ambitious given the vast areas it attempts to cover, so focus on the dishes from Goa, like the delicate pomfret fish, coated with handground masala. Another winner is the shrimp gassi, a coconut-based gravy that can be mopped up with a fluffy neer dosa or poured over a helping of unpolished rice.
Open daily 12:30 to 2:45 pm and 7 to 11:45 pm.
Opposite Mausam Bhavan
Tel: 91 11 2465 2808
In a city where most of the best restaurants are contained within hotels, it's a treat to experience a stand-alone establishment with as enchanting surroundings as Lodi the Garden. Situated next to the Lodi Gardens park in south Delhi, the restaurant is known primarily for its patio setting, which is adorned with wooden cart loungers and a fountain made from watering cans. The continental menu is unremarkable but a perfectly acceptable accompaniment to a night under the stars. Lunching ladies fill the tables here in the early afternoon. Book ahead for a seat among the wicker lampshades at night.—Vanessa Able
Open daily 11 am to 11 pm.
Tucked away off the Colva/Vasco Rd.
Tel: 832 288 0061
More than a decade ago, Mrs. Martin started cooking for local taxi drivers who needed to pass the time while waiting for foreign clients who were eating at more upmarket institutions. The secret soon got out, however, and now she presides over one of the best restaurants in the region. The menu here is extensive, and the seafood superb. Highlights include fish caldin, (cooked with coconut and spices), fresh lobster, big pomfret, or red snapper.
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel
Tel: 91 22 6665 3366
Although master chef Hemant Oberoi reaches across culinary boundaries at his signature restaurant, his feet are firmly rooted in India. Oberoi uses ingredients not usually seen on the subcontinent, like broccoli and salmon, and the results are hybrid marvels: That salmon, for instance, is smeared with sugarcane vinegar and baked in a clay tandoor oven. Other dishes seem straight out of a kitchen in the heartlandtry the tangy, tomato-based mutton curry and dal makhani (creamy lentil stew) for a taste of wholesome home-cooked fare. The setting in the Taj Mahal Palace hotel is grand: Patrons dine amid imposing Thanjavur pillars that shimmer with draped silks, but they still dig in with their hands instead of using cutlery. Don't feel shy about getting your fingers dirty: Soon after the meal, waiters arrive to sprinkle rose water over them.
Open daily 12:30 to 2:45 pm and 7 to 11:45 pm.
Tel: 91 11 3933 1234
Hold on to your wallets, this is serious high-end Japanese dining. One of very few sushi options in Delhi, Megu—located in the Leela Palace New Delhi—is the latest addition to the city's international gourmet scene and a popular spot with well-heeled diners. The theme here is contemporary Asian, both in the dark wood latticework of the dining rooms and in the visionary variations of the dishes on the menu (which is identical to that of the restaurant's New York counterpart). Fish is flown in twice a week from the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and prepared simply as nigiri and sashimi, or more elaborately as a salmon tartare with ikura sauce and osetra caviar, or silver cod with yuzu miso. The beef sizzler is excellent, and the sake and wine lists are extensive and equally dear.—Vanessa Able
Jodhpur , Rajasthan
Tel: 91 291 254 9790
Three things make this restaurant spectacular: location, location, location. Set on the high ramparts of Jodhpur's red sandstone Mehrangarh Fort, atop the 400-foot-high cliffs that stretch above the city, it has a view that deserves all the superlatives you can launch at it. Mehran Terrace serves a basic selection of local fare—including a popular Rajasthani thali that's perfectly adequate, though a little expensive—but it's the view you're paying for. Come here at night, when the tourist hordes have gone, and you'll find that by candlelight a fort can be a very romantic setting—even though the alfresco tables sit alongside the cannons.—Vivienne Stanton
Open daily 7:30 to 10:30 pm.
Taj Lake Palace
Tel: 91 294 252 8800
An evening at the Taj Lake Palace's fine-dining restaurant is considered one of the most romantic experiences in Udaipur, especially by those remaining enviously on shore. In truth, however, the restaurant, although suitably elegant in shades of pink and gold, faces inward, toward the lily pond in the hotel's courtyard, and not outward toward the lake. It is still possible to impress, though, if that is your romantic intention, by ordering the Royal Palace Thali, a tasting menu of Rajasthani specialties, such as wood-smoked morels in a saffron-cashew gravy, or the lentil dish thikari kid al, served, as one would hope, on a gold platter.
M. I. Road
Tel: 91 141 237 4493
Niros is not exactly a hot new spotit's been around some 50 yearsnor is it the most romantic venue, as the noisy jumble of tables is crammed into extremely tight quarters. But ask any concierge in Jaipur where to eat outside the hotel, and he will send you here. No wonder it always seems crowded with other foreigners. Also no wonder that you'll find something to your taste, since it serves everything from Rajasthani to Chinese to continental fare. Try one of the Rajasthani favorites, lal maans, slow-cooked mutton in a fiery red sauce, or sula, charcoal-grilled lamb pieces marinated in hot spices. Or, for a real adventure, order a mutton burger.
Raika Bagh Station Area
Jodhpur , Rajasthan
Tel: 91 291 510 2701
Screened from the busy main street by a high stone wall, On the Rocks restaurant is popular with tourists and locals who take refuge from the dusty city in the leafy garden. It's more atmospheric at night, when there are fewer tour groups. There's also a bar, which has a reputation as one of the most jumping joints in Jodhpur. It's an original concept and not a bad choice. There are vegetarian and nonvegetarian menus, lots of barbecue options, and even an on-site bakery.—Vivienne Stanton
Open noon to 3:30 pm and 7 to 11 pm.
ITC Maratha Sheraton
Tel: 91 22 2830 3030
It's a little hard to visit the rugged, war-torn provinces around the Pakistan-Afghanistan border these days. But you can get a taste of the region's cuisine by snagging a corner table at this faux-cave restaurant at the Sheraton in north Mumbai. The rugged decortree-trunk tables, beaten copper cupsextends to the dining experience: There are no utensils, so be prepared to eat with your hands and wear a bib. Diners tend to get into the spirit of things, tearing the meat off the bone with their fingers like feudal lords. Try the Sikandari raan, a cinnamon- and cumin-spiced whole leg of lamb; or the dark dal bukhara, a rich blend of black lentils, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic, simmered overnight on coal embers and topped off with cream and butter. It all sits a bit heavy, so try not to pass out at the table.
Open daily 12:30 to 2:30 pm and 7 to 11:30 pm.
Almita-III Porba Vaddo
Tel: 832 227 6861
Popular with locals, this casual vegetarian restaurant serves a huge array of Udipi-style and North Indian dishes. Try a thali, a platter of curried vegetable dishes, relishes, pappadams, and a dessert. Locals wash it down with feni, a fiercely potent drink made from fermented cashew apples (beware, it's 30 percent to 35 percent proof). Finish your mealspicy, the way locals like itwith a cup of chai. If your mouth is on fire, don't reach for your water glass; cool your mouth with raita (a yogurt-cucumber relish) or fruit instead.
Jaisalmer , Rajasthan
Tel: 91 299 225 1910
A patchwork of colorful fabric canopies held up by bamboo poles lends the air of a desert camp to this rooftop restaurant run by the Nachana Haveli hotel, situated close to the Amar Sagar gate. Saffron is always busy and provides nightly live music and dancing as well as a view of Jaisalmer and its fort. The menu doesn't deviate much from the standard tourist mix of Indian, Chinese, and Continental dishes, but the quality of the food is good. If you get a whiff of the tandoor as you climb the stairs, you might not be able to resist the Indian grill; the tandoori chicken here is excellent.—Vanessa Able
Open daily 7:30 am to 10:30 pm.
H20 Water Sports Complex
Next to Mafatlal Swimming Club
Tel: 91 22 2368 5459
The Arabian Sea washes up to the foot of this charming restaurant, where diners laze on plush lounge chairs sipping fresh-watermelon caprioskas as fishing boats float in the distance. Lanterns adorn the central courtyard, and white canopies billow in the breeze. The modern European menu focuses on seafood with standouts like white salmon rubbed with three varieties of garlic and smoked duck smeared with raspberry. The bar serves up delicious cocktails toothe tart kiwi margarita is a favorite with South Mumbai princesses. The languorous mood is accentuated by trippy lounge beats, as uplit palm trees sway in the horizon.
Open daily 7 pm to 12:30 am.
J. Tata Road, Churchgate
Tel: 22 2282 0942 or 22 2282 5811
You may be the only foreigner at this popular eatery near Churchgate Station. The restaurant specializes in the delicious vegetarian cuisine of the Hindus of Gujarat, the state bordering Maharashtra. The menu also includes Jain dishes (adherents of that religion do not eat foods grown underground, such as potatoes, onions, and garlic). Despite the doorman and mirrored walls, the restaurant's glaring lights and humble tableware give it a cafeteria feel. No alcohol is servedguests wash down their meals with buttermilk instead. Try a Gujarati thali, an assortment platter that may include samosas and chapattis, as well as lentil dal and curried vegetables. You'll find the food is rich, savory, and satisfying.
Tel: 91 11 2952 3737
Molecular gastronomy comes to Delhi in the form of this newly opened sister establishment to the already wildly popular Smokehouse Grill in the Greater Kailash II neighborhood. The relatively small dining room (42 covers) has a minimalist white Space Odyssey feel, which is particularly disconcerting if it's a Monday night and you are the only diners. Go on a weekend, however, and you won't get a table unless you reserve in advance. Start with one of the smoldering signature cocktails such as the Smoking Martini as you try to get to grips with the menu. Highlights include the "P" Soup (pumpkin, prawn, pickled pumpkin, and pumpkin-carrot air), quail and chorizo ravioli, and crisp pork belly served with tasty bacon jam. Or opt for the all-out 16-course tasting menu and get a soupçon of everything.—Vanessa Able
Sadguru Sadan, Ground Floor
Opposite the Babulnath Temple
Tel: 91 22 2369 8080
Be prepared for a tedious wait outside this local vegetarian institution: There are no reservations, and tables are usually packed with chattering housewives from the surrounding neighborhoods, the bastions of old business families from Gujarat and Rajasthan. The food served at Soam is primarily from these two states, and is prepared by maharajs, cooks traditionally retained in the wealthy households of Western India. Standout dishes include dal dhokli, a spiced dumpling simmered in a rich lentil broth; and the Farsan platter, an assortment of savories including fluffy yellow dhoklas served with tamarind chutney and samosas stuffed with spinach and cheese. A tumbler of thick mango lassi, topped with shavings of nutmeg and pistachio, will do nicely for dessert. Vegetarianism doesn't get more sinful than this.
Open daily 5 am to 11 pm.
Tel: 832 228 1234
A Goan institution since 1932, Souza Lobo is run today by Jude Lobo, the founder's great grandson. And it still serves some of the best Goan food in the region. Tables are draped in red cloths, and waiters wear cheery orange shirts printed with coconut trees. Dine on steamed rice and fish cooked in a green paste of coriander and spices, served with crisp fried potatoes. For dessert, try the bebinka, a Goan sweet made of stacked coconut pancakes. The restaurant is close enough to the ocean for diners to see the surf glimmering in the moonlight. Musicians perform a lively assortment of Hindu and Konkani songs, American country music, and soft rock.
The Imperial Hotel
Tel: 91 11 4111 6605
This fantastical restaurant, hand-painted by temple artists flown in from Kerala, resembles a temple (or at least an Indiana Jones movie). You'll feast like a king on the eclectic Asian dishes served here, with their Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and other influences. The irachi stew of lamb and potato in coconut milk, served with rice-flour pancakes, is delicious. Wash it down with a glass of spiced pineapple rasam with fresh curry leaves. For dessert, the Sagu Sagu (Thai rice pudding with cardamom, pandan, cinnamon, and sugar) is extraordinary.
Tel: 91 141 268 0101
Five miles outside of Jaipur, at the Oberoi Rajvilas, you might find yourself sitting in a courtyard under the stars. Candles are flickering and women are performing traditional Rajasthani folk dances to a background of sitar and drums. What difference does it make how the food is? The food, in fact, is excellent. Nibble on a mouthful of (deep breath) bharwan gucci aur subz biryani—morsels of spiced vegetables and basmati rice. Or order typical Rajasthani vegetarian platters of kebab and kofta, which use spinach in a manner that even a preschooler would like. It's all so delicious you might even vow to go meatless—until a sizzling platter is set down on the next table over, and you remember that the chef is Australian and ought to know something about lamb.
Taj Rambagh Palace
Bhawani Singh Road
Tel: 91 141 2211 919
Classical music, Florentine wall paintings, gold tableware, and a waiter who was most likely once in the employ of royalty—with that much ambience, it's hard not to feel a bit royal oneself (or at least, say, a distant cousin of the prince). The dishes add to the feeling, inspired as they are by the royal houses of India. So explore the tandoori cuisine of Punjab, the chicken done in the dum pukht style of Hyderabad, and the kebabs of Lucknow, and dream, as more than a few others in India do, of becoming royalty.
Dr. Zakir Hussain Marg
Tel: 91 11 2436 3030
Currently one of the hottest culinary scenes in Delhi, this depot of dining for the deep-pocketed, whose name might be taken to suggest a menu that is all over the place, boasts a world cuisine—primarily Mediterranean- and Japanese-influenced—the allure of which, to a culture finally coming around to the concept of calorie counting, is its lightness. Food historians, take note that this is where Indians discovered sushi, among whose offerings the Royal Nigiri platter seems to be an early favorite. A favorite, too, and another reason Threesixty°—based in the Oberoi is so popular with the be-seen-or-be-sari crowd, is one of the most extensive wine lists in the city.
Sai Baba Marg, Kala Ghoda
Tel: 22 2270 3213 or 22 2261 4991
Trishna is legendary for its seafood. It's popular with Mumbai politicos and glitterati, so don't expect to get in without a reservation. And when you do, don't be put off by the lackluster decor or the sulky staff. Don't even be discouraged by the menu, with generic nouns accompanied by incomprehensible adjectivesand no prices. Instead, ask the waiter what's good or point to what others are ordering. Try shrimp hariyaki (grilled shrimp with mint) or stuffed pomfret baked in greenmasala (a spice paste that includes cilantro, ginger, garlic, and green chilies). Or, splurge on the restaurant's signature dish, garlic king crab swimming in butter and garlic.
Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel
Tel: 91 22 6665 3366
When Iron Chef and Nobu star Masaharu Morimoto announced he was opening a restaurant at the grand Taj Mahal Palace hotel in 2004, it was seen as a high-stakes gamble. The restaurant is minimally but expensively decorated, and no one was sure whether locals cared enough for Japanese food to justify the sky-high bills. Yet Morimoto's deft hand and exquisite ingredients have turned skeptics into fans, and Wasabi is now the see-and-be-seen place to eat. Some of the dishes have subtle American influences, but it's mostly traditional Japanese fare; standout dishes include the flounder carpaccio, lightly dressed with sesame and lemon, and the marbled strips of seared teriyaki Kobe steak. The latter, we're told, is most popular with visiting Indian businessmen who are militant vegetarians at home.
Open daily 12:30 to 2:45 pm and 7 to 11:45 pm.