Diwali and Alpharetta’s diverse Indian restaurant scene

Yesterday was Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. It’s a huge holiday for those from the subcontinent. It ought to be a bigger deal in the Alpharetta area. The Indian population here is surging as the IT industry again picks up steam. Indians are an important part of our economy and community today. Why there are not public events and recognition for Diwali is beyond me.

What does make sense is the surge of Indian restaurants in town. They’re too numerous to count. The smaller ones often change hands from time to time, trading chefs and shifting focus from one style of Indian cuisine to another. It’s tough to keep up with and quite frankly, I don’t know that I’m qualified to review the food.

skvThat’s a difficult admission to make considering that I’ve been to India. I was in Mumbai for three months in 1998 shortly after graduating from college. I was intimidated and terrified by the food. It didn’t help that my colleagues strongly discouraged me from being adventurous with their food lest I experience the finest gastrointestinal distress south Asia could offer. I heeded the advice and survived on vegetarian pizzas from a Dominos franchise out there (although I did partake of a few amazing home cooked meals).

My culinary experience there, or lack thereof, isn’t serving me well today as someone who lives amid these wonderful choices of Indian restaurants. Take for example my visit this week at Sri Krishna Vilas‘ newer location on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth. There’s no buffet here but rather a fast-casual feel. The vegetarian-only menu is on the board but no descriptions are available for guys like me. I selected something that ended with “chana” which I knew involved chick peas. I asked the man about “puri” and was told simply that it was round. So with that tiny bit of information I ordered the puri with chana and hoped for the best.

What I got was amazing. Puri is a deep fried bread, served hot and golden brown and puffed up like a fresh baked pita. Oh yeah, puri’s round too. It was amazing and went well as a dip into the spicy curried chick peas. I’d later learn, thanks to my google skills, that puri is a snack or breakfast food. Thankfully I ordered another familiar item, samosas. Again they were delicious.

Sri Krishna Vilas is worthy of your visit and popular. I drive by on weekends and the place looks like a Nissan Leaf sales lot. Clearly they have a following.

You’ll not go wrong at the various Indian buffets around town. Try a spoonful of just about everything and go back for seconds of what you like. Madras Chettinaad is the granddaddy of them all on Old Milton Parkway. My coworkers still call it Minerva, the name of the restaurant from a few years ago. It’s easier to pronounce. Whatever you call it, their selection can’t be matched. Sri Krishna Vilas‘ Windward location is probably your best bet on on that street although I occasionally likeĀ Abhiruchi Indian Cuisine down the road. Their selection is limited but decent. I like that they’re not afraid to dial up the spice level in their food. Grab an extra napkin to dab the sweat off your brow. And again, their unpronounceable name completes the experience.

But if you try only one joint mentioned in this column today, make it Myzenes Indian Coastal Cuisine on Peachtree Parkway in extreme south Forsyth. These guys prove that Indian food in our humble burb is diverse. They offer cuisine from the coastal city of Goa which was heavily influenced by the Portuguese. You’ll see it in the menu when things like chorizo make an appearance. Sausage at an Indian joint? And seafood? Certainly not something you see everyday. The owners are very friendly and will guide you through their menu. They’re even willing to describe the food in more detail than just the geometric shape. This non-desi likes that.

So get out there are try some Indian joints this weekend. Let me know your favorites. And wish your Indian friends a happy Diwali!

13 Responses to “Diwali and Alpharetta’s diverse Indian restaurant scene”

  1. Julie H October 24, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Thanks so much for writing this article! I completely agree with you when it comes to observing that Alpharetta has a quiet response to the Indian population!
    I definitely appreciate you recommending some restaurants in our area. I frequently go out to eat at ‘the best’??? Indian restaurants in midtown but I want to know what’s great up our way. Thanks for posting!

  2. Raj October 24, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Another take on Indian food is Paradise Biryani Pointe, which is a fast casual take on Hyderabad style food. What is really missing is a chaat place that serves food found on the streets of Mumbai. The finest in the metro area in Chat Patti off North Druid Hills Road. The population of Indian people is large enough to support one up here in Alpharetta.

  3. Julie H October 24, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Hey Raj – I’ve eaten at Chat Patti off of N. Druid Hills. Wonderful! Thanks for the recommend above for Paradise Biryani Pointe.

  4. Jen October 24, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    I don’t know much about Indian food, but I know I love it. I had friends growing up from Bombay who were vegetarian, so the dishes I love are all veggie based and is what I’m most familiar with and stick with (even though I’m a meat eater). What’s amazing about Indian food is they know how to make vegtables, beans, chick peas etc taste decisious. It’s a nice break from American salads. We don’t have any Indian friends yet in Alpharetta, so I appreciate the recommendations.

  5. Cool Papa Bell October 24, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Raj, what’s wrong with Aunty’s Kitchen? The Indian population flocks there in droves and most say it puts Chat Patti to shame.

  6. Kate October 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    I like Sri Krishna on Windward too, and agree Myzenes is a gem. Just tried it the first time a few weeks ago. The tastes are unlike any other Indian food I’ve had. Very sweet owners. The Indo-Pak grocery in the same plaza is fun to browse.

    I also highly recommend Sitar on Holcomb Bridge at Nesbit Ferry Rd. Owners are also very nice. We get take out regularly. Bombay Flames on Mansell Rd is solid. And there is a new place for south Indian street food called Chennai Express on State Bridge at Jones Bridge Rd. Inexpensive, all vegetarian. The food was both heavy and carb-heavy, but interesting and very tasty. The guy at the counter was helpful with ordering suggestions.

  7. Dante October 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I found your observation about the Nissan Leafs interesting. I work in IT, and there are a lot of them in my parking lot at work. Furthermore, whenever I see someone driving one, they are Indian. What is behind the love that Indians have for the Leafs? That just piques my curiosity, is all.

    Has anyone been to Mayuri, near Northpoint Mall? I like their Malai Kufta a lot, but I have mixed feelings about the place in general.

  8. JP October 27, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    @Dante:

    I am curious about the Leafs also. The other day I was taking a walk along Kimball Bridge Road and I counted 14 Leafs go by me. At least 13 of them were driven by Indians. What are we missing?

  9. Jen October 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    The great thing about leafs is the tax benefits. I have a friend who has one and it’s a bargain. I’d like to get one myself for the money savings but there are too many big cars all over greater atlanta and too many texters and distracted drivers. . My honda accord was crushed and totalled by a texting teen last summer while I sat at a red light in front of wills park. She didn’t look up not did she stop and the red light. She rammed right into me and shoot me across the intersection. After almost being killed, felt I had to get an SUV to survive. I give lots of credit to those that take a chance on small cars. Wish I had the guts.

  10. Andrea October 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Has anyone been to Amma Kitchen on Cumming St? Or Kabab & Wraps on Morris Rd? I second the vote for Bombay Flames – it’s a great deal!

  11. S Lee Guy October 27, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    It’s always been my experience that Indians like to drive small to midsize four-door cars. Things like Sentras, Camrys, etc. Makes sense that they would move towards the Leaf. I kinda like the car but the limited range keeps me from buying it. My wife says that until it can get to Grandma’s house and back, I can’t buy one.

    But it is funny. If you see a Leaf in Alpharetta or south Forsyth, there’s probably a 75% chance an Indian is driving it.

  12. A October 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    I’ve been told that when Indians first come to the U.S., they tend to drive Hondas and Toyotas. Then when they become more successful they “graduate” to Mercedes and Lexus. From my casual observations, it does appear to be true!

  13. Reddy October 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    As an Indian who read your blog regularly, I would like to first Thank You for your Diwali wishes.In case any of you are wondering why you see holiday lights outside some homes this early and specially before halloween , it was due to diwali festival last week where it is customary to light up your home
    As a proud owner of Leaf , I can comment on the leaf ownership by Indians :) .Almost all of these are leases and have this as a second or a third car.If you consider the tax benefits that comes with a lease, it is practically free.You get 5000$ state tax credit, and leases typically run under 300$ per month for 24 months and this is an all electric car ,so there is additional gas savings each month.Right now , Indians are early adopters as they know about this deal, but as more and more people know about this, they would be buying it as well.I personally know 4 of my American friends who bought the leafafter they came to know about this deal.

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