Cuisine Scene: Indian Food
Indian cuisine is unique in that it can equally provide spice and comfort in each bite. Long Beach has a vibrant Indian food scene – owing something to being just a few miles from Little India in Artesia, the nation’s largest Indian enclave – with numerous restaurants offering unique styles and vibes. Whether dressing it up or taking it out, what they do share are distinctive and delicious takes on some of the world’s oldest and best-loved dishes.
NATRAJ CUISINE OF INDIA
Located in Belmont Shore, Natraj Cuisine of India (5262 E. Second St.) is a popular place – whether for lunch or dinner – in large part for its ability to not only handle classic Indian cuisine, but to add their own delicious touches. The Lamb Tikka Masala is wonderful as is the Aloo Gobi, stir-fried potatoes and cauliflower mixed in an aromatic mix of numerous spices. Tandoori Chicken is popular as is Spinach Paneer. It’s great if eaten on site with the friendly staff, or taken home.
In the unlikely location of the ground floor of a medical office building – Appu’s Cafe (3816 Woodruff Ave.) serves some of the most delicious and exciting takes on Indian food around. The Indian-Mexican fusion menu is perhaps best known for the Maharaha Burrito, a vegetarian take filled with turmeric rice, saneer paneer chunks, lentils and mushrooms, which has been named the best burrito in the state. (There’s also a vegan version, The Maharani.) But there are many other delicious creations, soups such as Mushroom, Spinach, Yellow Lentil and Black Lentil. There are potato creations and jackfruit concoctions and Paneer Tikki Masala Tacos. Expect the unexpected … and the tasty.
FLAVOR OF PUNJAB
Flavor of Punjab (5650 2nd St.) is well-known for the many levels of its spice, though fans of the place will tell you that no matter the heat, it never gets in the way of exquisite, multi-layered flavor. The Lamb and Chicken Masala are always favorites. The Onion Kulcha provides an interesting variation on Naan. Known for a friendly and helpful staff, the folks at Flavor of Punjab are willing to gently educate you about food, flavor and spice profiles so you end up with food that’s just right for you.
Delicious and quick, Flamin Curry (3344 E. Broadway) has become a local favorite renowned for the authentic, rich flavors that define its menu. That menu includes Paneer Tikka Masala measured with a delicious ratio of tomato and cream, and Curry Cauliflower that comes with a blend of yogurt and spices, smothered in curry. But the offerings are constantly updated and rotated so what you’re getting is fresh. The space is relatively small, and though there are a few tables, most people get their food to go, making it one of the more popular places to take home and enjoy while watching movies or YouTube travel vloggers.
This family-operated restaurant, located next to the water in the Marina Pacifica shopping center, Kamal Palace (6274 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.) has been serving Long Beach for more than 30 years. Well known for their tandoor delicacies cooked in authentic clay pots, they have a wide variety of chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian curries that show up in such succulent meals as Shrimp Vandaloo, a mix of fresh shrimp in hot spices, tomato and potatoes or Aloo Matar, green peas and sauteed potatoes cooked Punjabi style.
Not far from Long Beach City College, CaliChilli (4111 Viking Way) blends traditional Indian cuisine with various styles. So eggplant lasagna becomes Eggplant Bharta Lasagna, with smoky tandoor roasted eggplant layerer on paneer, the Beef Short Ribs fall off the bone with Kashmiri curry sauce. Lobster becomes Lobster Moilee, served on a coconut Kerala curry. Even the Caesar Salad is given a tweak as it can be served with succulent grilled chicken tikka. Boasting a vibrant bar, intimate and cozy seating, including some outdoors, this place can be romantic, fun or both!