As the second most populous nation in the world and the 7th largest country in the world, sharing land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, Indian cuisine represents an expansive array of flavors and textures, with complexities that are worth a deeper understanding.
“Indian food is so vast and diverse,” says the Toddy Shop’s Hemant Kishore. “It’s something I grew up eating, so it reminds me of home. It’s comfort food.”
Kishore is part of a growing Indian Diaspora in Las Vegas, with tight-knit strongholds in Henderson and the Southwest. However, Indian restaurants are growing in presence throughout the valley. Lunch buffets are common. Vegetarian options are important. Any restaurant that specializes in North Indian cuisine will immediately let you know chicken tikka masala is their most popular item. And while dragging a piece of naan bread through a creamy sauce has its appeal, the dish represents just a fraction of what a country like India has to offer.
“The cuisine changes every 20 or 30 miles,” says Ritesh Patel of the Curry Leaf. Chicken, wheat, and heavy creams are common in the north, while dosas, rice, and seafood are seen more often in the south. But that’s just the beginning. There are countless recipes and flavors in between.
“It’s a delicious cuisine with a lot of health benefits,” adds Kishore. “I want people to experience it and understand that it’s not scary.” Fortunately, Las Vegas has nothing to fear. As we celebrate Diwali this week, expand your horizons with the best Indian restaurants the city has to offer.
Clove just opened in October, but is already making an impression within the hotbed of Asian restaurants that line Rainbow Boulevard south of the 215. Familiar North Indian dishes like butter chicken and lamb madras (with boneless pieces of meat in a spicy coconut sauce) are served in a stylish, semi-industrial dining room with tall ceilings and cocktail bar. A series of paintings were commissioned by an Indian artist and add a sense of warmth to the space. Copper dishes and tableware are another welcome touch. The chef makes a point to switch up the buffet selection ($14.99) on a daily basis. An outdoor patio is expected to be ready by spring.
How to order: Call 702-473-5287 to ask about a reservation or schedule a pickup order.
Divine Dosa & Biryani
The Divine Dosa, which opened right before the pandemic in late 2019, provides a rare opportunity to enjoy Indian food on the Strip—just steps away from The Wynn, Resorts World, and the Las Vegas Convention Center. As the name suggests, dosa is the signature dish with more than 30 varieties on the menu. The savory crepe (made from a rice and lentil batter) is available in a four-foot version, cooked on a custom-designed griddle for large parties to pick apart and share. Dip it in sauces like lentil curry or red garlic chutney. Fortunately, Divine Dosa doesn’t rely on gimmicks—owners Kris and Bindi Parikh even flew chef Lok to India to source a variety of recipes and made sure he worked with home cooks to learn homestyle curries and indigenous methods of cooking. The biryani is prepared Hyderabadi-style, combining rice with chicken, lamb, or goat in a heat-filled recipe.
Mint Indian Bistro
Off the Strip
Mint covers a wide variety of Indian regions with simple, flavorful, colorful food. The original location on Flamingo is close to the Strip and the Convention Center, welcoming out-of-towners for ample servings of mango chicken curry and other signature dishes. A larger location on Durango has a banquet hall, the option of beer and wine by the ounce, and a tandoor clay oven in the main dining room to prepare kabobs and naan in view of customers. Either way, you’ll see a variety of Indian regions represented in a warm, comfortable space. Mint goes the extra mile with a nice selection of chaat (Mumbai-inspired street food) and makes a point to label its buffet items carefully according to dietary needs. Some dishes acknowledge Jain (pronounced “jen”) preferences, which not only avoids any animal products but anything that prevents a plant from continuing to live (like a potato being pulled from the ground, as opposed to a fruit pulled from a tree), such as onions and garlic.
Taj Palace is known for having one of the best Indian lunch buffets in Vegas ($15.99, 11 am–3 pm), although you won’t be disappointed with the a la carte dinner service either. The restaurant tries to use organic ingredients as much as possible. Everything is gluten-free. Breads are baked fresh and brought to the table; never on standby in the buffet line. Recipes tend to favor the northern part of India with rich, creamy sauces that aren’t too spicy—although an inferno ghost chili is on standby for the ambitious. Everything on the regular menu is made to order and anything hot can be tempered with a sip of mango lassi, which combines the fruit with yogurt and milk. The dining room maintains a certain cultural ambiance with hand-drawn murals decorating the walls.
Off the Strip
Just a few miles off the north end of the Strip, Mt. Everest has a simple dining room. Red walls, red booths, and a buffet setup that hasn’t been used since the onset of the pandemic. However, the menu is very straightforward and efficiently organized—making it easy for newcomers to navigate. A few of the items have an Nepelese influence (based on the owners’ heritage) like the chicken momo (similar to Chinese dumplings) and chicken chili, which isn’t “chili” like Americans typically expect, but chunks of boneless chicken lightly fried in a chili sauce with peppers. Yet favorites like tikka masala (with chicken, lamb, shrimp, or fish) and tandoori chicken, served on a sizzling hot plate straight from the oven are among the most expertly prepared in Vegas. Crispy bites of pakora (potatoes, onions, and chickpeas) are hard to resist—and will quickly become your new favorite finger food in Las Vegas.