Whether you've got a mid-week hankering for some butter chicken and lamb curry, or have had a big weekend and just need something to soak up the alcohol, there's nothing like a hearty serve of Indian food.
Luckily, Melbourne is spoilt for choice when it comes to the cuisine – from big name restaurants to tried-and-true local favourites, there are plenty of great places to try.
Not sure where to start? Well aren't you lucky, because below you'll find our list of Melbourne's best Indian restaurants. Crack open a Kingfisher and read on!
Tonka takes the CBD's laneway culture seriously, parked at the end of Duckboard Place in the spot that once, long ago, housed the club Honky Tonks. Just off Flinders Lane, there's more of a suit crowd and it's pretty sleek & chic, so expect to pay a bit more for chef Adam D'Sylva's region-hopping cuisine like Rajasthani duck with cucumber, mint and buffalo milk curd, a Goan curry with barramundi, Spring Bay mussels, or Mooloolaba prawns and Kashmiri chilli. There's a special Thali menu for tasty lunches on the run that aren't quite as pricey too.
If you're looking for something a little more low key in the city, head to the top end of Bourke Street for Red Pepper. Main meals like a Punjabi chicken makhani with either two naans or one plus rice hover around the $13 dollar mark. Need to quench your thirst? Team it with a beer for only $20. Leaf eaters, don't worry – there are plenty of vegetarian options on the go, too. Flora, opposite Flinders Street station, is another cheap and cheerful option with a diner hall vibe complete with metal trays divvied into portions – too delicious!
Brothers Kush and Michael Singh happily named East Melbourne's Two Fat Indians after themselves, inheriting a great love of the cuisine from their chef dad, Ajit. They've picked up many skills after working in his restaurant growing up and it's great to see the passion and expertise continue. At $60 a head, go for the Trust The Chef banquet – Kush and Michael will figure out what tickles your fancy and tailor a meal just for you. Leave a couple of hours clear though, and wear your comfy pants. While beer seems the natural accompaniment, Two Fat Indians also has a huge wine list.
Northside highlights include Kake Di Hatti on the Brunswick East end of Lygon Street. It's a bastion of great North Indian food – the birthplace of chef Ashok Choudry – has bargain basement prices, a relaxed BYO policy and the baked to order naan is pretty damn good, too. Fitz Curry Cafe on the Nicholson end of Johnston Street is another great go-to, as is Collingwood's Indian Tukka on Victoria Parade, with a menu heaving with veggie options. At Marigold in Clifton Hill, the Royal Banquet is a winner for $50 a head.
Thanks to the passion of owners Jessi and Jennifer Singh, Horn Please is a stalwart on St Georges Road in Fitzroy North, near Edinburgh Gardens, delivering a contemporary take on Indian cuisine with a focus on fun and mixing street food with classics. Green mango crispy rolls with chutney are wickedly moreish, as is the house speciality marinated chicken and fresh Tassie salmon from the tandoor, and can be enjoyed whilst Bollywood flicks are projected onto the white walls.
Southsiders can breathe easy; you don't have to trek over the Yarra to get at Jennifer and Jessi's fantastic fare. They've recently opened another outpost, Babu Ji, housed in St Kilda's iconic George Building on Grey Street. The good news is, unlike its northern sibling, Babu Ji is open for lunch at the weekends too, meaning there are more chances for you to devour the samosa burger and the chickpea and pomegranate salad.
Namaskar on Glenferrie Road in Malvern is alive with Bollywood dance and music playing, plus more dosas than you'll know what to do with, while Bala Da Dhaba on Ripponlea's Glen Eira Road, is another local cracker with a sideline in Nepalese cuisine.
Footscray's thriving multicultural community has its Indian epicentre on West Footscray's Barkly Street, where Aangan rules supreme. The dhal makhani is delicious and we love the methi malai mater too, with fresh green peas cooked in cream and spices. And who says Indian food has to be all about dinner? Paradise Indian in Wheelers Hill serves up the finest South Indian brunch you'll ever encounter, with rasam soup, idli savoury cakes, doughnut-lookalikes vada, mysore masala dosas and more every Sunday morning.
Image Credit: Simply Delicious