Curry contributed to the end of my college romance, so I feel more passionately about the subject than the average Uproxx Life writer. For five years, I dated a perfectly adequate fellow student at California State University, Fresno. It was a lot like Titanic without the iceberg, nude portraits, or Billy Zane. Think of it more like Jack wore socks with Birkenstocks and lived with his parents, and Rose had a core pragmatism that allowed her to accept the “only one of us can fit on the door” situation very quickly. Look, if someone has to make it, it’s gonna be me.
I grew up eating Indian food and I often thought a nice date ought to include a trip to the buffet, a beer, and a nap. I am romantical like that. But, I was rebuffed time and time again because my Jack declared he did not like curry (writing that just made me mad all over again). Explaining that multiple cultures have curries and that different blends of spices are used to produce different types of curry meant nothing. How do you date that person? Okay, apparently you date him for five years and then escape the state and never return, but that’s just one option.
Between the Indian subcontinent and a group of former British colonies, there are thousands of curries to be sampled and enjoyed. And yes, we know, the following list of chef’s favorite places to get curries doesn’t come close to representing all of them — though it’s nice to see Indian, Malaysian, Trinidadian, and Thai dishes get nods. Because you are decent people with whom I could have meaningful relationships, I know you are hyped to read about curry, look at pics, and slide into the comment section to talk about your favorites. Enjoy!
Moti Mahal Delux (New York, NY)
Chef David Burke — Executive Chef, Tavern62 by David Burke
This is a very sophisticated Indian restaurant with great butter chicken — their signature curry dish with chilies, tomato, ginger and herbs. They also serve delicious rice pilaf dishes, breads and desserts.
Chef Nvjot Arora — Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Old Monk
Dera, a Pakistani restaurant, has some of my favorite curries in New York. I go to the one in Jackson Heights, and they recently opened another one in Manhattan. They have the best goat curry — it’s dripping in fat, tender, a little spicy and totally sinful. It just hits the right flavors.
A great spot for Thai green curry is Up Thai on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They use baby Thai eggplant and lime, which really takes the dish to the next level. I order it with duck. Duck and Thai food go hand in hand; plus, it really complements the green curry well.
Ghee Indian Kitchen (Miami, FL)
Chef Mike Pirolo — Chef and Owner, Macchialina
The best curry has to be the smoked lamb neck and chickpeas at Ghee Indian Kitchen. Although I have to be honest, I have not yet been to Ghee, but I did have the pleasure eating at the chef/owner Niven Patels’ home where he served up some of the same delicious curries found at his restaurant, and it was an unforgettable experience. As we dined, we were overlooking his small farm where he procures most of the produce that is served at his restaurant. The lamb was a perfect balance of smoky, spicy and salty, and the chickpeas gave a great contrast in texture to the tenderness of the meat.
Bombay Darbar (Miami, FL)
Chef Alex Q. Becker — Executive Chef, Kuro at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Bombay Darbar in Coconut Grove has a great menu. The lamb vindaloo is one of my favorite dishes — the lamb is always tender and cooked to perfection with the perfect balance of spice and flavor. When they moved to the new, larger space, I couldn’t have been happier. Bombay Darbar is worth any wait, but now we don’t have to!
Paowalla (New York, NY)
Chef Sarah Schafer — Owner and Executive Chef, Irving Street Kitchen
Floyd Cardoz has such a broad background in classic French/Indian cuisines; he wins hands down.
Ghee Indian Kitchen (Miami, FL)
Chef Santiago Gomez — Executive Chef, Cantina La Veinte
Ghee Indian Kitchen has the best curry in town. Actually, everything there is amazing. Chef Niven really brings traditional flavors to the table with all of his dishes. My favorite is the Chicken Tikka Masala because of its rich flavors. You can really taste all of the spices – the garam masala, the turmeric, everything — in just one bite.
Gymkhana (London, England)
Chef Brian Doyle — Executive Chef, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
When I worked in catering, we did a lot of Indian weddings, and I had a colleague who made one of the best curries I’ve ever had. Since then, I’ve had a lot of curry, and few have stood up to his. The pork cheek vindaloo at Gymkhana in London is the closest. The restaurant itself was very warm and inviting. The pork just melted in your mouth, and the sauce was so bold and spicy.
Banana Blossom (New Orleans, LA)
Chef Michael Gulotta — Chef and Co-Owner, Maypop and MoPho
My favorite curry is still the spicy wok fried clams with crispy roti. Rich coconut milk, briny clams, spicy and a little acidic with fried garlic and finished with bright fresh Thai basil, plus flaky buttery roti for sopping up all of that goodness. This dish is one of my greatest inspirations for designing the menu at MoPho. It hits every flavor receptor; you just can’t stop eating it or thinking about it.
Mango Tree (London, England)
Chef Nina Compton — Chef and Co-Owner, Compère Lapin
Being from St. Lucia, I am a bit particular about my curry. At the restaurant, we serve a curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi, but when I’m not there, I find it tough to find a good place for curry. However, my favorite is served at Mango Tree in London. It’s a Thai restaurant so their curry dishes are a tad different than Caribbean curry, but they do it flawlessly. I still dream about the red curry with roasted duck, grapes, pineapple and cherry tomatoes, served in a pineapple bowl. The flavor profile is perfect and the presentation is beautiful.
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Hat Yai (Portland, OR)
Chef Alan Maniscalco — Owner and Chef, Rally Pizza
Beef cheek curry! Yeah, Hat Yai is two blocks from my house, and I can walk on down there anytime. But even if they were on the other side of town, say Division Street, I’d still crave that rich Malaysian masaman-style curry. I don’t know if beef cheek is a traditional ingredient, but it has the perfect texture and flavor to stand up to the rich, golden curry sauce. Served with sticky rice, buttery roti (Indonesian flat bread) and pickled green papaya, it’s an amazing meal!
Himalayan Grill (Huntington Beach, CA)
Chef Danny Allen — Executive Chef, Ways & Means Oyster House
The best curry I have had is the lamb curry. Chunks of tender lamb cooked in an onion and tomato sauce make this dish a standout. I always order the garlic naan as a side to soak up all the extra sauce!
Thai Bite (Aliso Viejo, CA)
Chef Craig Connole — Executive Chef, La Casa del Camino, K’ya Bistro Bar, The Rooftop Lounge
My favorite curry is red Thai curry and Thai Bite has the best around! I always order it with beef. It has just the right amount of spiciness and the perfect consistency. Usually, red Thai curry is just the curry, brown sugar and coconut milk with a pinch of salt. This is different than any other I’ve had. They must have a secret!
Chauhan Ale & Masala House (Nashville, TN)
Chef Garrett Pittler — Executive Chef, City Winery Nashville
To be honest with you, Maneet Chauhan makes the only curry that I’ll actually eat. I’m not a huge fan of curry in general — I don’t like how it makes you sweat, and then you smell like curry for at least 24 hours after eating it — but I love the chicken and lamb curries at Chauhan Ale & Masala House. Honestly, the curry lamb is the bomb. I like all of Maneet’s food and her use of spices; and she hits all of the right notes in her curries
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Curry House (Irvine, CA)
Chef Hiro Uchida — Chef and Kitchen Manager, The Blind Rabbit, The Alchemists, The Iron Press
I have been going to The Curry House in Irvine for quite some time now, and every time I get the craving for some Japanese curry, they always hit the spot. It reminds me of my Dad’s curry growing up — with all the vegetables in the blend and tons of aromatics. I love getting the egg omelette options and having all the curry ladled all over. It makes for a super filling and childhood-reminiscent experience.
Paru’s (Los Angeles, CA)
Chef Alex Moreno — Executive Chef, Habana
It’s not a “curry” restaurant; they serve Southern Indian vegetarian, but they make some great curry. Before we talk food, we must talk about the ambience. It starts when you get to the security gate and wait outside to be buzzed in. You walk through a dense forest of a patio, and if you choose outside seating (which you should) you’ll be seated in it. The service is charming and sincere; the effect is feeling like you’re on a tiny vacation to someplace exotic instead of sitting right next to Sunset Blvd.
Okay, but you’re there for the food. My favorite thing to order is the Indian thali plate, with it you get puffed Indian breads, sambar (lentil tamarind stew), papad (amazing fried lentil chips) yogurt, pickles, rice and dessert. But, the best part of the plate for me is that you pick two vegetable curries, my favorites are the potato cauliflower and the chickpea. Both are perfectly spiced and craveable, and perfectly balanced with the rest of the plate. Washed down with a Himalayan Blue sitting on their patio is a fantastic getaway!