Sitting down at a dinner table with dear friends and eating out of tin plates piled high with sticky rice, hot curries that would make you weep (with joy, and due to spice levels) and a side of pickled chilies – this is truly one of the heights of happiness. Sri Lankan food, to me and many, cannot really be compared to anything on earth. Biased? Sure, a little.
I moved to the States preparing for a few wretched years of meatloaf and Big Macs. I stand by what I say – there is nothing more disheartening to the food lover’s soul than a Big Mac. What I failed to take into account was that I was moving to Seattle.
A few things about this city:
Seattle enjoys a healthy shake up of the everyday. That’s why it boasts a naked biker’s parade, revolutionized, good coffee, and legalized marijuana. If it’s cookie cutter, chances are it will be met with skepticism and possibly a yawn in this city. Unless it’s Starbucks. Because if everybody is honest, though it is generally sniffed at it with haughty gusto in favor of the local brew down the block, you’d be hard pressed to find a Seattle wallet sans Starbucks gift card or a Seattle winter that doesn’t get giddy over red cups.
Seattle sprawls along the shores of the Puget Sound. It is a trading port, an economic hub, a constant change over of people, goods, and ideas.
Which brings us to Amazon. And Microsoft and Boeing. And Expedia and Costco. People with good ideas and the brain power to carry them out love it here. It’s got to be the salt air. Company giants have ensured that the cultural melting pot remains spiced and delightful, hiring people from all over the world who leave their wonderful mark on Seattle’s identity.
The result? Global cuisine opportunities galore. Move over Big Macs, there are bigger fish to fry. Ideally with a side of noodles.
I asked Seattleites as native to our good city as Nirvana, the space needle, and mizzle (misty drizzle) about international food. The response was gushing. So I might have to do this in parts, starting with one of my all-time favorites: Indian.
Indian food, though different from Sri Lankan food in many ways, has a similar affection for creamy sauces, marinated meats, a wealth of delicately spiced vegetarian options, and punchy sides. Aloo Matar and a good Tikka Masala are some of my favorite go-to meals to get me through the winter, and there is nothing like chai tea to bring comfort to cold, weary bones. It warms a body from the inside out. So without further ado, here are the top ten recommendations for Indian restaurants in Seattle, straight from the people (in no particular order).
1. Taste of India
Two words: Bottomless chai. And also naan the size of your face. Dishes are very reasonably priced, service is excellent, and the food is always, always good. Widely considered one of the very best Indian restaurants Seattle has to offer.
Location: 5517 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle
2. Annapurna Café
Underground, full of low light ambience, a yeti bar room for straight-from-India beer, and multiple chimes of “OMG YES” when it came up in conversation. Capitol Hill has it good.
Location: 1833 Broadway, Seattle
It has a lunch buffet people swear by – and for good reason. $8.95 gives you an all-you-can-eat experience with impressive options. I am partial to the Wallingford location because of its delightful staff, outdoor eating area, and because it’s in Wallingford.
Location: 1815 N 45th St, Seattle
With an owner from Delhi, Kalia gets points for authenticity as well as for regional diversity. Many restaurants serve delicious North Indian cuisine, but South Indian fare is harder to find.
Location: 8518 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle
Rated one of the best by Seattleites from the East Side, Tracy and Eric Larson, raised in Pakistan, opened up their well-loved Kirkland spot after years of travel and experience in South East Asia.
Location: 10724 NE 68th Street, Kirkland
6. Saffron Grill
Conveniently located by North Gate mall, the Grill has an extensive bar, a fantastic happy hour, and specializes in catering – weddings included!
Location: 2132 N Northgate Way, Seattle
Poppy gets a special mention as it is not Indian per se, but rather Indian inspired. A favorite in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Chef Jerry Traunfeld incorporates the idea of Thalis, and serves Asian inspired northwest cooking on a large platter in a variety of small dishes. More tastes, more fusions, more fun.
Location: 622 Broadway E, Seattle
8. Chili’s South Indian Restaurant
Sure, it used to be called “Chili’s Deli and Mart”, which inspires some hesitation. And it does not have an aura that suggests “fine dining”. But it does have Dosa, and for this it must be mentioned. South Indian food is a culinary dream in itself and it is a sad thing that it is not more widespread. But here it is, this little gem that will serve you a stellar Masala Dosa and Idli. The U District one ups everybody just like that.
Location: 5002 University Way NE, Seattle
9. Travelers Thali House
Indian inspired Thalis live at Poppy. But real Thalis live at the Travelers Thali House. Perfect for the vegetarian eater that doesn’t want to settle for a single bowl of steamy goodness. Want to have your cake and eat it too? Or in this case, two entrées, lentil soup, rice, salad, chutney, fruit, and sweets? Have it, and be blessed. Featured Thalis change every month, balancing out flavors and dishes and giving you the best of many.
Location: 2524 Beacon Ave S, Seattle
I’m saving the best for last because I can’t get enough of Roti. Why? 1) If you want spicy they will make it spicy. This cannot be said for a lot of Americanized Indian food. 2) The owner once gave me a Tupperware full of lentils when I was out of them at home. 3) Dates always feel like they are taking place in a private nook of the Taj Mahal. 4) Quite simply, they can do no wrong in the curry department. Also it’s one of the only reasons my brother will come to Seattle to visit me.
Location: 530 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle
If you are visiting Seattle or live in Seattle, do yourself a kind favor and go out for Indian this week. Your body will thank you for it.
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