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Interior of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium and food spread.
Stacey Sprenz Photography

17 Standout Indian Restaurants in the Triangle

Where to find the best channa masala, saag paneer, lamb vindaloo, and more

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Interior of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium and food spread.
| Stacey Sprenz Photography

For a region that is not a major metropolitan area like New York or Los Angeles, the Triangle is blessed with many Indian restaurants. Whatever the reason may be, perhaps the draw of major research universities and the health and technology powerhouse companies of the Research Triangle Park, it’s hard to find another place in the South where a South Indian-style lunch can be followed by a North Indian-style dinner all within a few miles of each other.

These 18 restaurants were selected not only for the quality of the cuisine but also breadth. With more than 1.3 billion people spread across India’s more than 1.2 billion square miles, the nation’s foodways are as varied as its citizens. In the Triangle you can find South Indian restaurants, North Indian restaurants, restaurants that offer Indo-Chinese cuisine, and others that dabble in the cross-border flavors of Pakistan, Nepal, and Tibet. Encyclopedias could be written on Indian cuisines; suffice it to say that there is enough variety right here to get a beginner’s education.

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Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar - Durham

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Lime & Lemon has a few locations in the Triangle, all serving a menu that spans the breadth of India’s various cuisines. Mainstays like channa masala, saag paneer, and lamb vindaloo can be found alongside less common dishes like navratan korma (a mild curry full of nuts, vegetables, and dried fruit) and the signature mango-lime chicken. All three locations are located close to universities, making it a great go-to option for hungry students and locals.

Indian Monsoon Restaurant & Bar

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One of the newer additions to Durham’s dining scene, Indian Monsoon serves higher-end takes on Indian food in a gleaming, modern space on the downtown loop. Entree items like lobster pepper masala and tandoori basil lamb chops offer a chance for a slightly different dining experience, but those looking for the greatest hits can find korma, vindaloo, rogan josh, and more. Saturdays feature an order-ahead biryani special, and the restaurant has a full bar with wine, beer, and cocktails.

Viceroy

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Viceroy is a little bit London and a little bit Mumbai, with a dark, moody interior reminiscent of a British pub and a menu serving what they call “modern Indian cuisine”. There are momo bhel (vegetable dumplings with crispy noodles and a housemade Szechuan sauce), peri peri boti (grilled beef kabobs in a Goan-inspired marinade), and aangara tikka (smoked and spiced chicken kabobs). For the true British-Indian experience go for the London mixed grill, a combination of hariyali chicken, lamb, masala shrimp, and the English classic — chicken tikka. The specialty cocktails are some of the most unique in town, and there is an extensive beer list and wine offerings as well.

Sitar Indian Cuisine

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Sitar is the grand dame of the Durham Indian food scene. The spacious interior plays host to business lunches and celebratory dinners, with a classic lunch buffet and a la carte dinner menu chock full of South Indian specialties. Pakoras, masala fish, mulligatawny soup, dosas, tandoor specials, and plenty of curries are all featured. Sitar’s seafood offerings are a standout, like the malabar (shrimp or fish in a Kerala-style masala spice with coconut milk, ginger, and tempered curry leaves) or the shrimp thoran (sauteed with grated coconut and a house-special masala blend).

CholaNad Restaurant & Bar

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Cholanad is Chapel Hill’s longtime Franklin Street go-to for South Indian cuisine. The menu has Tamil specialties like urulai kizhangu podimas (a mashed potato-based dish), mutton chukka varuval, and fish tawa fry. There are also dosas, curries, and a variety of starters like egg porival, tandoori wings, and chicken 65. The cocktails skew tropical, like the Cholanad Delight with Southern Comfort, mango puree, and a sweet and sour mix.

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe

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Tucked away in a quaint plaza on the Chapel Hill/Carrboro border, Vimala’s (as it’s known locally) is as much a social enterprise as it is a restaurant, and Vimala herself is something of an institution in town. The emphasis here is Indian specialities cooked using almost exclusively local ingredients, and no one is ever turned away for lack of funds. Many menu items draw from Vimala’s home state of Kerala, like dosas, a coconut and fennel beef curry, and a salmon curry Kerala-style.

Cheeni Indian Food Emporium

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One of Raleigh’s most-anticipated new restaurants of 2021, Cheeni Indian Food Emporium is part restaurant, part cafe, part school. The cafe-style menu is divided between an all-day tiffin section, with street food-like items such as samosas, masala fries, and the Bombay sandwich (buttered soft white bread with cilantro-mint chutney, filled with salted, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers) and then larger dishes for lunch and dinner service. The Bazaar sells cookbooks, teas, spices, and more, and owner Preeti Waas teaches a variety of public and private Indian cooking classes.

The interior of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium.
The interior of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium.
Stacey Sprenz Photography

Azitra Indian Culinary Nirvana

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Azitra serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch at its Brier Creek spot, and the menu is unlike almost any other Indian restaurant in the Triangle. Sure there’s naans, dals, and biryanis, but Azitra also has specialties like peppercorn mango lamb, pahadi murgh jhinga khurmani (tandoori chicken and shrimp in an apricot cream sauce), and amritsari salmon tikka in a North Indian-style marinade. For brunch try Azitra’s take on chicken and waffles — pan-friend chicken served over cherry and coconut stuffed naan with hot honey.

Kadhai the Indian Wok

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India’s next-door neighbor China has had a long and profound impact on the country’s culinary heritage, and Raleigh’s Kadhai celebrates that influence. There are more “traditional” menu items like lamb vindaloo, chicken korma, and aloo tiki, but also an Indo-Chinese menu with chicken Manchurian, fried rice, and chili paneer. Other unique menu items include lamb Patiala, done in the style of the royal courts of Patiala state with an aromatic masala mix of ground onion, ginger, garlic, and spices, and goat dhansak, a style of curry heavy on lentils that originated with the Parsi Zoroastrian peoples.

Chutneys

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Fast-casual meets Indian classics at Morrisville’s Chutney’s. Take the carryout specials for instance — there’s a literal bucket of biryani, with protein options of paneer, chicken (in three different styles), and goat. There are also weekday double entree deals, family meals, and more. A sizable Indo-Chinese menu offers things like Szechuan paneer noodles or chicken 65 fried rice. Chutney’s also has a breakfast menu with Indian morning staples like idly (a style of rice cake), vada (lentil flour doughnuts), dosa, and uttapam.

Urban Angeethi

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Urban Angeethi is named after the style of grill found across India, and in keeping with its namesake, the restaurant has an extensive selection of grilled dishes like jhinga dil tikka (sesame coated prawns), Kashmiri-style chicken kebabs, and a whole salmon in a yogurt marinade. There are also plenty of familiar curries like vindaloo, rogan josh, and tikka masala, as well as a fairly large selection of vegetarian entrees. Try the paneer pasanda — cubes of paneer cheese in a creamy cashew and almond paste sauce.

Mirchi's Indian Kitchen & Bar

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Cary’s Mirchi’s Indian Bar & Kitchen is another entry in the Triangle’s list of Indian restaurants that have moved towards the fine-dining, craft-cocktail style of service. The menu features a wide variety of appetizers, tandoor specialties, Indo-Chinese offerings, biryanis, and more, all designed to be piled upon the table and shared with friends and family. The mirapakaya chicken is a dish not found on many other menus — a spicy, almost dry-fried entree common to the coastal Indian state of Andhra.

Inchin's Bamboo Garden

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Inchin’s is a small chain with just over two dozen locations in the United States and Canada, with its Morrisville location being one of two in North Carolina (the other is in Charlotte). Whereas some other area Indian restaurants have an Indo-Chinese section, Inchin’s entire menu is Indo-Chinese. There are Nepalese momos, chicken manchow soup, Chinese-style bhel, kung pao paneer, sambal lamb, and more. A kid’s menu will keep the little ones happy while the adults dig into a mouth-numbing plate of triple Szechuan noodles.

Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant

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The original Anjappar was established in Chennai in 1964 and has since expanded to more than 70 locations across the country (although its difficult to tell which ones are linked and which are independent outlets). Regardless, Anjappar specializes in celebrating Chettinad-style cuisine with items like nattukozhi rasam (a South Indian chicken soup with tamarind and tomato), goat sukka varuval (a spicy bone-in goat stir-fry), and ennai kathirikkai kulambu (an eggplant curry in a spicy, tangy tamarind sauce).

Biryani Maxx Indian Cuisine

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Biryani fans rejoice — an entire restaurant dedicated to the famous rice dish. The chef’s special is a choice of protein atop a steaming bowl of spiced rice, a bit like an Indian version of a Chipotle bowl. In addition, there are specific biryanis like egg biryani, Hyderabadi chicken dum biryani, and Lucknowi goat biryani. There is also a selection of non-biryani entrees like malai kofta, butter chicken, and lamb kebab, along with appetizers, breads, and desserts (a must-order is the double ka meetha, a bread pudding commonly found in Hyderabad).

Chhote's Restaurant

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The Chhote’s stall in downtown Raleigh’s Transfer Co. Food Hall churns out Indian street food classics like samsoas, bhaji, momos, and kathi rolls. There are also a few staple entrees like chana masala, pork vindaloo, or a classic curry with a choice of chicken or lamb. The masala chai is available hot or cold, and the mango lassi is a must. Fun fact — Chhote’s was founded by Mumbai native Anson Fernandes, who also founded Biryani Maxx.

Cilantro Indian Cafe

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A fast-casual spot focused on traditional curries, Cilantro Indian Cafe offers both lunch and dinner menus. Diners can select a style of curry (saag, korma, tikka masala) and protein or vegetable. There is a small menu of appetizers like veggie samosas, lamb tikka kabobs, and a coconut fish soup. There’s also a selection of biryanis, all the curries themselves are gluten and nut free, and virtually all dishes come with roghni naan.

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Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar - Durham

Lime & Lemon has a few locations in the Triangle, all serving a menu that spans the breadth of India’s various cuisines. Mainstays like channa masala, saag paneer, and lamb vindaloo can be found alongside less common dishes like navratan korma (a mild curry full of nuts, vegetables, and dried fruit) and the signature mango-lime chicken. All three locations are located close to universities, making it a great go-to option for hungry students and locals.

Indian Monsoon Restaurant & Bar

One of the newer additions to Durham’s dining scene, Indian Monsoon serves higher-end takes on Indian food in a gleaming, modern space on the downtown loop. Entree items like lobster pepper masala and tandoori basil lamb chops offer a chance for a slightly different dining experience, but those looking for the greatest hits can find korma, vindaloo, rogan josh, and more. Saturdays feature an order-ahead biryani special, and the restaurant has a full bar with wine, beer, and cocktails.

Viceroy

Viceroy is a little bit London and a little bit Mumbai, with a dark, moody interior reminiscent of a British pub and a menu serving what they call “modern Indian cuisine”. There are momo bhel (vegetable dumplings with crispy noodles and a housemade Szechuan sauce), peri peri boti (grilled beef kabobs in a Goan-inspired marinade), and aangara tikka (smoked and spiced chicken kabobs). For the true British-Indian experience go for the London mixed grill, a combination of hariyali chicken, lamb, masala shrimp, and the English classic — chicken tikka. The specialty cocktails are some of the most unique in town, and there is an extensive beer list and wine offerings as well.

Sitar Indian Cuisine

Sitar is the grand dame of the Durham Indian food scene. The spacious interior plays host to business lunches and celebratory dinners, with a classic lunch buffet and a la carte dinner menu chock full of South Indian specialties. Pakoras, masala fish, mulligatawny soup, dosas, tandoor specials, and plenty of curries are all featured. Sitar’s seafood offerings are a standout, like the malabar (shrimp or fish in a Kerala-style masala spice with coconut milk, ginger, and tempered curry leaves) or the shrimp thoran (sauteed with grated coconut and a house-special masala blend).

CholaNad Restaurant & Bar

Cholanad is Chapel Hill’s longtime Franklin Street go-to for South Indian cuisine. The menu has Tamil specialties like urulai kizhangu podimas (a mashed potato-based dish), mutton chukka varuval, and fish tawa fry. There are also dosas, curries, and a variety of starters like egg porival, tandoori wings, and chicken 65. The cocktails skew tropical, like the Cholanad Delight with Southern Comfort, mango puree, and a sweet and sour mix.

Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe

Tucked away in a quaint plaza on the Chapel Hill/Carrboro border, Vimala’s (as it’s known locally) is as much a social enterprise as it is a restaurant, and Vimala herself is something of an institution in town. The emphasis here is Indian specialities cooked using almost exclusively local ingredients, and no one is ever turned away for lack of funds. Many menu items draw from Vimala’s home state of Kerala, like dosas, a coconut and fennel beef curry, and a salmon curry Kerala-style.

Cheeni Indian Food Emporium

One of Raleigh’s most-anticipated new restaurants of 2021, Cheeni Indian Food Emporium is part restaurant, part cafe, part school. The cafe-style menu is divided between an all-day tiffin section, with street food-like items such as samosas, masala fries, and the Bombay sandwich (buttered soft white bread with cilantro-mint chutney, filled with salted, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers) and then larger dishes for lunch and dinner service. The Bazaar sells cookbooks, teas, spices, and more, and owner Preeti Waas teaches a variety of public and private Indian cooking classes.

The interior of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium.
The interior of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium.
Stacey Sprenz Photography

Azitra Indian Culinary Nirvana

Azitra serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch at its Brier Creek spot, and the menu is unlike almost any other Indian restaurant in the Triangle. Sure there’s naans, dals, and biryanis, but Azitra also has specialties like peppercorn mango lamb, pahadi murgh jhinga khurmani (tandoori chicken and shrimp in an apricot cream sauce), and amritsari salmon tikka in a North Indian-style marinade. For brunch try Azitra’s take on chicken and waffles — pan-friend chicken served over cherry and coconut stuffed naan with hot honey.

Kadhai the Indian Wok

India’s next-door neighbor China has had a long and profound impact on the country’s culinary heritage, and Raleigh’s Kadhai celebrates that influence. There are more “traditional” menu items like lamb vindaloo, chicken korma, and aloo tiki, but also an Indo-Chinese menu with chicken Manchurian, fried rice, and chili paneer. Other unique menu items include lamb Patiala, done in the style of the royal courts of Patiala state with an aromatic masala mix of ground onion, ginger, garlic, and spices, and goat dhansak, a style of curry heavy on lentils that originated with the Parsi Zoroastrian peoples.

Chutneys

Fast-casual meets Indian classics at Morrisville’s Chutney’s. Take the carryout specials for instance — there’s a literal bucket of biryani, with protein options of paneer, chicken (in three different styles), and goat. There are also weekday double entree deals, family meals, and more. A sizable Indo-Chinese menu offers things like Szechuan paneer noodles or chicken 65 fried rice. Chutney’s also has a breakfast menu with Indian morning staples like idly (a style of rice cake), vada (lentil flour doughnuts), dosa, and uttapam.

Urban Angeethi

Urban Angeethi is named after the style of grill found across India, and in keeping with its namesake, the restaurant has an extensive selection of grilled dishes like jhinga dil tikka (sesame coated prawns), Kashmiri-style chicken kebabs, and a whole salmon in a yogurt marinade. There are also plenty of familiar curries like vindaloo, rogan josh, and tikka masala, as well as a fairly large selection of vegetarian entrees. Try the paneer pasanda — cubes of paneer cheese in a creamy cashew and almond paste sauce.

Mirchi's Indian Kitchen & Bar

Cary’s Mirchi’s Indian Bar & Kitchen is another entry in the Triangle’s list of Indian restaurants that have moved towards the fine-dining, craft-cocktail style of service. The menu features a wide variety of appetizers, tandoor specialties, Indo-Chinese offerings, biryanis, and more, all designed to be piled upon the table and shared with friends and family. The mirapakaya chicken is a dish not found on many other menus — a spicy, almost dry-fried entree common to the coastal Indian state of Andhra.

Inchin's Bamboo Garden

Inchin’s is a small chain with just over two dozen locations in the United States and Canada, with its Morrisville location being one of two in North Carolina (the other is in Charlotte). Whereas some other area Indian restaurants have an Indo-Chinese section, Inchin’s entire menu is Indo-Chinese. There are Nepalese momos, chicken manchow soup, Chinese-style bhel, kung pao paneer, sambal lamb, and more. A kid’s menu will keep the little ones happy while the adults dig into a mouth-numbing plate of triple Szechuan noodles.

Anjappar Chettinad Indian Restaurant

The original Anjappar was established in Chennai in 1964 and has since expanded to more than 70 locations across the country (although its difficult to tell which ones are linked and which are independent outlets). Regardless, Anjappar specializes in celebrating Chettinad-style cuisine with items like nattukozhi rasam (a South Indian chicken soup with tamarind and tomato), goat sukka varuval (a spicy bone-in goat stir-fry), and ennai kathirikkai kulambu (an eggplant curry in a spicy, tangy tamarind sauce).

Biryani Maxx Indian Cuisine

Biryani fans rejoice — an entire restaurant dedicated to the famous rice dish. The chef’s special is a choice of protein atop a steaming bowl of spiced rice, a bit like an Indian version of a Chipotle bowl. In addition, there are specific biryanis like egg biryani, Hyderabadi chicken dum biryani, and Lucknowi goat biryani. There is also a selection of non-biryani entrees like malai kofta, butter chicken, and lamb kebab, along with appetizers, breads, and desserts (a must-order is the double ka meetha, a bread pudding commonly found in Hyderabad).

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Chhote's Restaurant

The Chhote’s stall in downtown Raleigh’s Transfer Co. Food Hall churns out Indian street food classics like samsoas, bhaji, momos, and kathi rolls. There are also a few staple entrees like chana masala, pork vindaloo, or a classic curry with a choice of chicken or lamb. The masala chai is available hot or cold, and the mango lassi is a must. Fun fact — Chhote’s was founded by Mumbai native Anson Fernandes, who also founded Biryani Maxx.

Cilantro Indian Cafe

A fast-casual spot focused on traditional curries, Cilantro Indian Cafe offers both lunch and dinner menus. Diners can select a style of curry (saag, korma, tikka masala) and protein or vegetable. There is a small menu of appetizers like veggie samosas, lamb tikka kabobs, and a coconut fish soup. There’s also a selection of biryanis, all the curries themselves are gluten and nut free, and virtually all dishes come with roghni naan.

Related Maps