Best Indian Restaurants in Melbourne
Here are some of our favourite Indian restaurants in Melbourne:
1. Tonka - CBD
Tonka is one of the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne being the love child of highly successful Coda and a triumph of Adam D'Sylva (homage to his heritage) and Michael Smith (former head chef of Jacques Reymond). High end Indian has been a surprising gap in the culinary landscape in this city. Having experienced awesome high end Indian in other Australian cities like Adelaide, international cities, not to mention India itself, I was curious to see what awaited me at Coda. This hatted restaurant has taken Indian cuisine in Melbourne on an odyssey and delivers on technique and flavour.
Tonka is a fine dining destination with white napkins, classy decor and mood lighting - and of course that dreamy petticoat like material fluffed up on the ceiling. It screams sophistication and occasion. No mess hall informality here.
Make your way down the laneway and look for the neon sign (this place was a famous nightclub called Honky Tonks). Tonka clearly brings a modern twist to Indian cooking - something unique in Melbourne. The website gives us more of the philosophy, "They have devised tantalising dishes that explore Indian techniques and flavours although not being restricted by tradition. D’Sylva stamps his characteristic approach to cooking with the balance and freshness of Asian. The menu is designed with a passion for enhancing seasonal, fresh ingredients in modern and accessible way."
Golden Maharajah vegetable curry, tandoori cauliflower, pumpkin and crispy egg is a sensation, as is the Rajasthani duck, cucumber, mint and buffalo milk curd. For seafood lovers the Goan curry with barramundi, Spring Bay mussels, Mooloolaba prawns and Kashmiri chilli hits the mark. The sides are a key and the Tonka’s dahl with yellow lentil, Kashmiri chilli and curry leaf is the business.
2. Red Pepper - CBD
Red Pepper is a sublime family run Indian restaurant in the CBD which provides authentic and excellent fare with North Indian influences in ambient surroundings. The owners have consistently offered great Indian cuisine to the delight of students and office workers and there's a pervasive pride in what they do. Credit to Jagjeet Kaur from a Punjabi village. Not only is the food wonderful but it is presented well with a sense of joy.
I hadn't had a butter chicken like this since the one I had in Mussouri in Northern India in the foothills of the Himalayas... The altitude made one breathless but the occasion was unforgettable with amazing cuisine, delightful company and the Himalayas in view.This butter chicken was among the best I've ever had anywhere. For a start it was a generous portion and the balance of spices was sublime. I dislike westernised versions of butter chicken that are super mild - but this had some kick! The sauce was superb and there was a decent amount of chicken pieces (cooked to perfection, again not too dry). One of the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne.
3. Curry Vault - CBD
Curry Vault is one of the best restaurants in Melbourne - a delightful Indian culinary experience that has been consistently excellent over the years. We experienced three of Curry Vault's hottest dishes - the Lamb Vindaloo, the Spicy Chicken and the Beef Madras. Over the years I've enjoyed fine Indian cuisine in India, UK and in Australia, notably Adelaide which boasts some great Indian venues. I will never forget the food of Northern India during a few visits there, and Curry Vault does a great rendition, with no dumbing down heat and spices for western tastes.
The Lamb Vindaloo was super creamy with major heat, hot and spicy with a touch of vinegar. There was also a great spice profile of this vindaloo and I could tell the slow cooked meat was a decent cut.
The Spicy Chicken dish was laden with chillies, fresh capsicum, onions and ginger, and hit you hard from the start. My tongue started burning and sweat started emanating from my brow. Some like it hot, but you don't know how hot till you try. This was a mother of a hot dish. Yey it wasn't just all about heat but there were nuances of spice and taste.
The Beef Madras featured diced beef cooked with desiccated coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves and spices. It too was creamy - with a heat that crept up on you like a rising tide. Highly recommended.
4. Babu Ji - St Kilda
Babu Ji is one of the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne (we think the best); a revelation and is often recommended to us by the Indian community. This is a modern chic restaurant with resonances of authentic Indian cuisine.
The term Babu Ji, when used playfully is your typical Indian government worker, dining in a restaurant in Jessi’s hometown of Chandigarh, India. These “Babu Ji’s” dine with complete ease and enthusiasm, holding not a worry about time or return to work. They happily and unashamedly indulge in food and hospitality. They laugh loudly. They revel in their food, company and atmosphere. They absolutely love being served.
Here you will find fresh quality ingredients, compelling dishes and superb presentation. Authenticity comes from a plethora of attractive street food dishes including Papdi Chaat, spicy Samosas, Tandoori Chicken and Lamb Gushtaba.
Pot dishes include Butter Chicken using free range chicken, Fish Curry featuring Blue Grenadier, and a rich Goat stew.
5. Horn Please
Horn Please and Babu Ji are connected with the same owners, both outstanding Indian restaurants in Melbourne.
Horn Please is named after the popular hand-painted slogans that decorate the back of commercial vehicles across India.
Please serves delicious food that has integrity but also offers a fun, interesting atmosphere. The food is simple yet special, being made from quality products, cooked unhurriedly and served in a spirited environment. The menu begins with Indian street food, continues with classic such as Butter Chicken, and not so classic curries such as Punjabi Buttermilk Curry, naan from the tandoor and finishes with the much loved homemade kulfi Indian ice cream. The Indian "nachos" are a talking point.
6. Delhi Streets - CBD
Delhi Streets is an exciting colourful if not chic Indian restaurant in The Archway precinct and has become our new Indian favourite. The World Loves Melbourne feels Melbourne has decent Indian restaurants but not that many of them. Delhi Streets captivates with its approachable street food, Bollywood posters and fun ambience. In terms of smart cheap eats Delhi Streets has burst on to the scene as a chart topper. We were impressed by the quality of cuisine and the overall experience, having been invited to imbibe the lunch menu.
Delhi Streets is about fun, but with substance. Spectacular is the Pan Puri, Indian street food at it's best, with a sense of theatre. Pour the jug of spiced water into the Pan Puri and get an intense hit of flavour and freshness. Crispy lentil cracker balls stuffed with potatoes, chickpeas, onions, tamarind chutney. Delhi Streets boasts a funky fit out by the guys at BrandWorks. Modern lighting and seating with a dose of colour, along with playful use of design and textures. The ambience is enhanced by the open kitchen. Service was exceptional during our visit, with staff keen to please.
Delhi Streets also delivered on the Tikki Chaat - two potato pea patties on a bed of spiced chickpeas, then drizzled with sweet yoghurt, tangy tamarind chutney and zesty coriander and mint chutney. A flavour explosion. Tikka Tacos simply worked with succulent chicken in a humble tortilla taco. The food at Delhi Streets is presented with imagination. While our experience of Indian food in the past has been mainly small bowls of curries and the like, Delhi Streets brings innovation and creative flourishes, if not "glam" to street food, while upholding the highest quality. One of the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne in terms of affordability and funky Indian street food.
7. Flora - CBD
Flora is one of the best Indian restaurants in Melbourne and a Melbourne favourite near Flinders St Station which specialises in both Northern and Southern Indian food, vegetarian and non vegetarian. What is impressive is the range of high quality southern Indian food that is not that common in Melbourne. Enjoy your meals from the bain-marie but the food is excellent. Flora serves first class naan and roti, vegetarian curries, dahl, lamb curry, chicken curry, and other specialty dishes. This is quick tasty food at affordable prices; enhanced even more if you order a large combo deal. If you're going to the movies or a show, this is the place to come for a quick tasty meal. The dining space is large so there's a great chance you'll get a table.