694 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
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India Palace

Neighborhoods: Hillcrest
Cuisine: Indian, Chicken, Vegan

India Palace is a Indian, Chicken, and Vegan restaurant where most Menuism users came for fun with friends, paid between $10 and $25, and tipped between 15% to 18%.

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  • 11/09/2014

    A diner from Atlanta, GA tried it.

Kardamom photo

Kardamom

 San Diego, CA
 

Vegetarian Nirvana

My mouth had been watering for several days before I finally went to India Palace in Hillcrest. Mr. Flexitarian was craving Indian food for months, but there are no Indian restaurants south of I-8 that we are aware of. We used to go to a place called Ker Vegetarian Cuisine in Mira Mesa, which is halfway between our two abodes, but I think Ker may now be defunct, or it may have been closed temporarily and possibly taken over by another owner. I will have to check on Ker’s status one of these days, soon.

Mr. Flex needed to stock up on a few things at Whole Foods Market, another place that is nowhere near either one of our homes. But since we were going to be in the area anyway, I mentioned that India Palace was right across the street. Mr. Flex had never eaten there before, but another friend of mine, The King of the Spicy Cuisine, had taken me there several times for the buffet and I really enjoyed it.

After shopping at Whole Foods, and drooling at the sight and smell of the woodfired pizza station, we stowed our purchases in the car and headed over to India Palace. (Note: if you like pizza, and who doesn’t? Whole Foods Market makes some of the best woodfired pizza in town.) We arrived for dinner around 6:00 p.m. and were disappointed to learn that they don’t have the buffet during the evening hours. It turns out that the lunch buffet ($11 per person) is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. only. Dinner is served from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. I guess I should have looked at their website first, but our taste buds were aching for Indian food so we decided to give it a go.

We hadn’t even set foot inside the restaurant when one of the servers came outside to greet us. I recognized him from the times I had been there before. I told Mr. Flex that India Palace has some of the best curries I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve eaten Indian food all over San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, and even Las Vegas. The server smiled and led us inside. Indian cuisine is similar to Mexican food in that it’s always good, but for me, there is a whole range of “good” starting with adequate, moving up through yummy, delicious and fabulous, then on up to sublime. I can tell you right now that India Palace is way up there near the top of the “good” list.

The thing I remembered most about India Palace was a magnificent spicy carrot chutney that made me blush when I thought about it. It was ridiculously good, and extremely addictive. I remembered thinking that it probably should only be sold to those over the age of eighteen, in the confines of a chutney den. Again, I was disappointed, because I knew that the sensuous carrot chutney was only to be found in the buffet. The server laughed when I described my thoughts about the chutney and welcomed us to return again, for lunch. I said, “We’ll be back. That’s a promise!” But the lack of a buffet was certainly no reason to leave at that moment. The scent of aromatic Indian spices grabbed us like trout being hooked by a fly fisherman. There was no turning back. The server asked us whether we wanted to sit inside the dining room, or outside on the small tropical-style covered patio. It was still light outside and the weather was mild, so we opted for the patio seating which is a little bit more casual. There’s a eucalyptus tree growing right up through the middle of the roof. When they added the patio, they just built it right up around the tree. The dining room is very pretty and somewhat formal, but we were dressed in shorts and didn’t want to offend.

I kept reminding Mr. Flex that we would definitely have to come back for the buffet, because you get to sample almost everything. Most of the buffet items are vegetarian, plus a few chicken, seafood and lamb dishes. With the buffet, you also get the scandalous carrot chutney along with Indian desserts like gulab jamun, little dough balls made with milk powder and flour, floating in a sugar and rosewater syrup; and cardamom-spiced rice pudding, which is another favorite of mine that’s on the “so good it’s almost naughty” list.

We scanned the menu and finally decided upon alooghopi, a curry of potatoes and cauliflower and peas in a tart spicy sauce; and malai kofta, vegetable balls in an aromatic sauce mixed with cream. The duo came served with perfect nutty Basmati rice. Then we looked at the bread section on the menu and chose garlic naan and whole-wheat Tandoori roti. The extensive menu lists eighteen different kinds of bread, some plain, some topped with spices, and some with cheese and herb fillings. And that doesn’t even include the appetizers that could also be described as bread: pakoras, samosas and papadum.

India Palace is a great place to come with a large group of friends. That way, you can share and sample a lot of different items. But you should warn your meek and foodophobic friends. The food is spicy and exotic, and they’re likely to panic. But bold and adventurous eaters will be generously rewarded. The portions are made for sharing. With just two of us, we had enough leftovers for two and a half complete separate meals. For vegetarians, there are 22 different dishes! That is why I reiterate that it is best to come for the buffet. Otherwise, you will be left to make difficult hand-wringing decisions. Don’t worry, though, because you can’t make a bad decision at India Palace. And don’t forget to order a divine mango lassi, the quintessential Indian drink made with mango juice, yogurt and rosewater. It will tickle your taste buds and offer a cooling respite to contrast the spiciness of the curries. It might just become your new favorite drink of all time.

I have eaten Indian food all over the place, most of it good, some of it great. The alooghopi and the malai kofta at India Palace were amongst the best of the best. With India Palace, I can honestly say that I have been to food Nirvana and have come back to tell the tale. I am floating on a cloud permeated with happy spice. Won’t you join me?

Aloo Gobi Dinner

I would describe this as the paradigm of alooghophi. A perfect version of this Indian curry with potatoes, cauliflower and peas in a spicy, tangy sauce. It could change your life.

Vegetable balls in a rich, creamy, spicy sauce - Malai Kofta Dinner at India Palace

Malai Kofta Dinner

Probably the best version of malai kofta I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten lots of malai kofta in different Indian restaurants all over southern California and Las Vegas. The texture and color and flavors were exactly as they should be for this dish.

Deliciously chewy garlic naan - Garlic Naan at India Palace

Garlic Naan

You really can’t wreck this bread dish if you know how to use a Tandoori oven. India Palace’s garlic naan is terrific. They obviously know how to use the oven.

The quintessential Indian drink with yogurt, mango juice and rosewater - Mango Lassi at India Palace

Mango Lassi

The combination of ingredients: yogurt, mango juice and rosewater is sublime. I’ve had this drink at India Palace and at other Indian restaurants and it has always been wonderful.

Tandoori Roti

Nothing wrong with this dish at all, it just tasted like standard whole-wheat pita. Very good, but I would recommend one of the stuffed breads or the garlic naan as a real tasty treat.

Tags
Indian Chicken Vegan
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Hours
Fri-Sat 11:00AM - 11:00PM
10:00AM - 10:00PM
Sun-Thu 11:00AM - 10:00PM
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India Palace  Restaurant Reviews

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India Palace is located near the cities of San Diego County, Hillcrest, Coronado, and Old Town San Diego.
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