Indian food in Denver has never been more delicious, or more diverse. Gone are the days when lunch buffet saag and samosas dominated the scene (although they’re still around, and they’re still scrumptious). Now, new restaurants are going upscale, or all vegan, or are offering dishes that have yet to become popular stateside.

With so much to explore, it can be intimidating to choose from the abundance of options. Thus, we’ve rounded up our favorite Front Range restaurants serving South Asian specialties, from biryani in Denver to idli in Boulder, to help you navigate this exciting niche of Colorado cuisine.

Azafran Indian Cuisine and Wine Bar

Since taking over Broomfield’s Azitra Indian Restaurant in 2021, Saurav and Rishu Mehta, who act as chef de cuisine and general manager/wine director, respectively, have served comforting Indian cuisine with an upscale, white-tablecloth twist. Inside the eatery, which they renamed Azafran (Urdu for “saffron”), diners can choose from ubiquitous Indian specialities such as lamb vindaloo or vegetable korma. Or go for one of Saurav’s inventive creations such as the Surf and Turf Malbari, a platter of lamb, tandoori salmon, and prawns zinged with flavors from India’s southwestern coast (think: tamarind, curry leaves, and coconut). The Mehtas also serve several varieties of bread, including kulcha, pitalike leavened breads stuffed with fillings such as butter chicken or rosemary and blue cheese. 535 Zang St., Suite C, Broomfield —Patricia Kaowthumrong


A plate of yellow rice at Denver best Indian restaurant Coriander.
Biryani at Coriander. Photo by Visvajit Sriramrajan

The cozy booths at Coriander are the perfect place to tuck into hearty Indian fare in relaxed digs. If you’re to try anything at the eatery—which has a Green Valley Ranch location and one in Golden opened in May 2022—go for the biryani, a mixed rice dish popular across the Indian subcontinent but especially in South India. Coriander offers a range of protein options, from an aromatic shrimp biryani to a more traditional lamb version. Gluten-intolerant diners should opt for the gluten-free chicken biryani, while a vegetable-only option is available for those who abstain from meat. Any of these dishes can be served with whole hard boiled eggs mixed in, and you can adjust the spice level to create the perfect experience for your palate. 4968 Tower Road; 14799 W. Sixth Ave., Golden —Visvajit Sriramrajan

Gaia Masala & Burger

Gaia Masala and Burger
Tikka masala burger with fries at Gaia Masala and Burger. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Gaia Masala & Burger slings Indian fusion fare at its best. The fast-casual joint—which debuted a Boulder location about four years ago and expanded with an outpost in Capitol Hill this past summer—has a sprawling roster of Indian takeout staples, a few Mediterranean dishes, and a one-of-a-kind selection of burgers and sandwiches. Don’t miss the tikka masala burger, your choice of beef or chicken layered with the namesake chile- and tomato-infused sauce, lettuce, mint, and diced red onion and cucumber (a cheesesteak version is also available on a butter-soaked roll). Other crave-worthy bites include the cheesy masala fries, samosas filled with spiced peas and potatoes, and chicken wings tossed in fiery peri peri seasoning. Bonus: The Boulder and Denver locations serve alcoholic beverages and are open until 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., respectively, a rarity for Indian restaurants on the Front Range. 1116 13th St., Boulder; 609 Grant St.—PK

Haveli Indian Cuisine

This nondescript dine-in restaurant sandwiched between a Littleton strip mall and bustling I-470 is so popular that, when the team started a GoFundMe campaign in summer 2020 to stay afloat during the pandemic, locals responded in force, imploring their neighbors to donate or place to-go orders. As a result, Haveli is still serving north Indian and Nepalese specialties like momos, korma, and tikka masala nearly three years later. We like the smooth, rich baingan bharta—roasted eggplant with onion, tomato, garlic, and ginger—or the bhindi bahar, okra with bell peppers, tomato, and onions. 301 E. County Line Road, Littleton —Riane Menardi Morrison

Highlands Indian Cuisine

Highlands Ranch got its first Indian restaurant in early 2021 with the opening of Highlands Indian Cuisine, an upscale destination for masalas, biryani, and tandoor-fired offerings from around the subcontinent. Once settled into the high-ceilinged, light-filled restaurant in Highlands Ranch Town Center, start your meal with an order of juicy, steamed chicken momos before moving on to a bevy of traditional curries from the chef’s specialties menu. We like the tangy, onion- and tomato-sauce-based sweet potato masala and the fish korma, which is cooked in a light, cashew-based sauce. 9344 Dorchester St., Suite 101, Highlands Ranch —RMM

Himalayan Spice Indian Cuisine

Plate of samosa chaat at best Indian restaurant in Denver.
Himalayan Spice’s samosa chaat. Photo by Barbara Urzua

Located on Highland’s bustling Tennyson Street, Himalayan Spice offers a peaceful and delicious respite from the crowds. Whatever you order, the samosa chaat appetizer is a must-try: The vegetable samosas are stuffed with peas and potatoes and drizzled with yogurt, tamarind, and mint chutney, a plate that’s as flavorful as it is colorful. Then order any of the North Indian specialties, like the chicken kadai cooked in a vibrant curry made with slow roasted bell peppers. The in-house Nepalese dumplings, stuffed with chicken or vegetables and available steamed or fried, are also a great choice. 4279 Tennyson St. —Barbara Urzua

The Madras Cafe

Two metal platters with half-eaten dosas.
Dosas at the Madras Cafe. Photo by Visvajit Sriramrajan

Looking for a healthy bite packed with flavor? The Madras Cafe in Aurora, a fully vegetarian joint, has 28 varieties of the dosa, a high-protein crêpe made of rice and black lentil batter commonly served with nutrient-dense coconut chutney and sambar (a vegetable stew made with pigeon peas and tamarind). From the paneer potato masala dosa to the ultra-thin and crispy paper roast to a chocolate variation, this eatery has a dosa for everyone. Also try the pepper-forward ennai kathirikkai kuzhambu, which means “oily eggplant stew” in Tamil. It pairs well with savory dosas as a side dish. Wash it down with a spiced buttermilk topped with green chiles, cilantro, and ginger, or grab a payasam (milk pudding) on your way out. 5422 S. Parker Road, Aurora —VS

Mehak India’s Aroma

An assortment of best Indian dishes including naan and rice.
A spread at Mehak India’s Aroma. Photo by Visvajit Sriramrajan

At five-year-old Mehak India’s Aroma in Cherry Creek, even veggie haters will relish in the gobi manchurian, a popular Indo-Chinese fusion dish consisting of battered and deep fried cauliflower florets sautéed with a spicy soy-tomato sauce. Follow it up with the lamb pasanda, cuts of marinated lamb that are pounded flat and stewed with coconut, almonds, and cashews, which is delicious heaped over basmati rice. Of course, Denver’s first fine-dining Indian restaurant also serves solid versions of more commonly known entrées, too, like classic chicken korma or lamb rogan josh. 250 Steele St., Suite 100 —VS

Mint Indian Restaurant

Tandoori chicken with broccoli and curry with rice.
Tandoori chicken and paneer tikka masala from Mint Indian Restaurant. Photo by Barbara Urzua

Next time you find yourself working downtown, skip the chains and grab a table at Mint Indian Restaurant instead. Start off with the pani puri, a popular Mumbai street food made from hollow balls of crispy dough (“pani”) filled with potatoes, mung beans, date and tamarind chutney, and a tart-sweet flavored water called “imli pani.” Don’t miss the extensive hot options like the chole bhature—garbanzo beans cooked in a medley of delicious spices and served with a larger version of pani—and our favorite order, paneer tikka masala with a side of fluffy naan and slices of chile and onion to cleanse the palate. 1531 Stout St., Suite 130 —BU

Namaste: Cuisine of India & Nepal

A plate of chicken, small metal bowls with various curries, and naan at best Indian restaurant.
Assorted dishes from Namaste. Photo courtesy of Namaste

Namaste serves some of the burbs’ most delicious Indian cuisine out of an unassuming strip mall. If you want to try an assortment of the restaurant’s dishes, the Namaste Special for two is a great choice. For $30, you’ll be treated to tandoori chicken, lamb curry, shrimp masala, dal, saag paneer, naan, kheer, and two vegetable samosas. If you prefer drier, char-grilled mains over stewy curries, we also like the tandoori mix, an assortment of chicken, lamb, fish, and shrimp roasted to perfection in Namaste’s tandoor oven. 3355 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Suite F120, Lakewood —BU

Serene Cuisine of India

Two plates with green and orange curry.
Crab tikka masala and chicken saag from Serene Cuisine of India. Photo by Barbara Urzua

The University Park neighborhood surrounding University of Denver is a global flavor seeker’s paradise, with ramen, hot pot, soul food, bubble tea, and tacos all within stumbling distance of campus. So it’s no surprise that the aromas of turmeric and cardamom waft down University Boulevard from Serene Cuisine of India, a cozy spot dotted with orange and white chairs, mid-century-modern light fixtures, and murals of the Taj Mahal. The food from chef-owner Damber Shankar is just as inviting, with a menu full of hard-to-find dishes like crab tikka masala; lamb dhansak (curry made with lentils, cumin, and ginger) and seafood Kerala curry (shrimp, scallops, and fish cooked in a traditional South Indian coconut-based sauce). Do as the students do and let an adventurous palate be your guide. 2070 S. University Blvd. —RMM

Spice Room

Spice Room first opened in the Highlands neighborhood in 2017, and locals loved it so much that it expanded to a second location on East Colfax this past October. That flurry of business is well deserved: The lengthy, but neatly organized menu offers everything from popular Indian street foods to made-in-house desserts. For a vegetarian option (vegan upon request), try the baingan bharta, a tomato-forward roasted eggplant dish, or the malai kofta, balls of paneer and potato in a coconut, onion, and tomato gravy. Plus, Spice Room occasionally offers inventive specials, like a tikka masala pizza. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for future creative offerings. 3157 W. 38th Ave.; 3100 E. Colfax Ave. —BU

Tiffins India Cafe

A collection of Indian foods from Denver best Indian restaurant Tiffins.
Clockwise from left: the medu vada, idli, and samosa chaat from Tiffins India Cafe. Photo by Visvajit Sriramrajan

This family-owned Boulder eatery (with a location in Longmont opened last year) gets its name from “tiffin,” an Indian English word that generally refers to a light morning or midday snack. We, for one, think the food here works for any meal. Grab some idli, savory rice cakes served with tangy tomato and coconut chutneys, or an order of medu vada, lightly spiced fritters made from a batter of black lentils which comes with a cup of sambar. The samosa chaat is another shining gem among Tiffins’ offerings: crushed samosas topped with chickpeas, chopped onions, green chiles, chaat masala, cumin, yogurt, coriander-mint chutney, and parsley. It’s so good, you might order another to bring home with you. 2416 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder; 1232 S. Hover St., Suite A300, Longmont —VS

Tikka and Grill

Tikka and Grill with various Indian dishes.
Tikka and Grill’s hot chicken (top) and chicken shahenshah with rice and garlic naan. Photo by Ethan Pan

The light-drenched dining rooms at both locations of Tikka and Grill (the first in Platt Park, the second in Speer) are as expansive as their menu, which boasts over 30 entrée choices. Need help ordering? Newbies to Indian cuisine should try the honey chicken, a flavorful but not spicy dish that, according to the menu, “has won over numerous individuals that thought they didn’t like curry.” For regular enjoyers of Indian fare looking for something new, go for the chicken shahenshah—a curry which has a coconut and cashew base similar to korma but is even richer and creamier. Either pairs well with an order of naan; there are 10 varieties, including cheese and jalapeño and one with dates, but we suggest a plain or garlic naan to let the main entrées shine. 1300 S. Broadway; 1120 E. Sixth Ave. —Ethan Pan

Total Vegan Indian Restaurant

A disposable bowl of vindaloo with rice.
Total Vegan’s potato vindaloo. Photo by Barbara Urzua

Vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores: This one’s for you. Total Vegan Indian Restaurant, which just opened in Highlands Ranch this past December, serves classic Indian specialties in a completely vegan setting, so you’ll never have to worry about the chance of cross-contamination. There, you’ll first pick a sauce (think: tikka masala, saag, or vindaloo, among others) and then choose up to two protein options to mix in, like tofu, potatoes, or cauliflower. Even if you’re a lover of chicken and lamb, Total Vegan might just be delicious enough to change your mind on vegan cuisine. 9563 S. University Blvd., Suite A, Highlands Ranch —BU

Urban Village Grill

A gluten-free bowl of kale and lentils dressed chaat style at Urban Village Grill.
Kale moong dal chaat at Urban Village Grill. Photo courtesy of Urban Village Grill/Prim + Co

Urban Village Grill earned a spot on our 25 Best Restaurant list in 2022, and for good reason. Chef Charles Mani’s eclectic palate is showcased all over the menu, from his take on Indian American classics (think: “not your grandma’s” butter chicken) to creative South Asian specialties like tandoor-grilled basil lamb chops, or a creamy coconut curry with charred salmon or roasted butternut squash. You can dine à la carte, go all in with a full-party tasting menu, or grill your own proteins and veg on the heated patio abutting the entrance to Park Meadows Mall, where Urban Village has been stationed since 2021. Regardless, don’t leave without trying the kale moong dal chaat, a mixture of battered and fried kale and sprouted mung beans dressed in tamarind chutney, mint and cilantro purée, and roasted cumin yogurt. 8505 Park Meadows Center Drive, Unit 2184, Lone Tree —EP

Yak and Yeti

Two entree plates and various smaller bowls of best Indian food in Denver at Yak and Yeti.
A spread at Yak and Yeti. Photo by Visvajit Sriramrajan

With five locations around Colorado, Yak and Yeti’s buffet is a true journey for the taste buds. Start with vegetable samosas stuffed with potato, peas, and onion, then transition to an array of hearty dishes like dal (stewed lentils), aloo gobi (spiced potato and cauliflower), and saag paneer. With accompanying side dishes, naan, and basmati rice, it’s easy to fill up on the savory offerings, but save room for dessert. You won’t want to miss the heavenly mango custard or the sikarni, a sweetened yogurt dish hailing from Nepal that incorporates banana and cinnamon. Yak and Yeti also offers a number of gluten-free and vegan options, meaning everyone is invited to lunch here. Various locations —VS

Zaika Indian Cuisine

Tuck into an assortment of comforts from across India at this family-owned eatery with four locations along the Front Range (Broomfield, Littleton, Castle Rock, and Denver). While the Littleton location boasts regional dishes from Kerala to Bengal, we like the spicy South Indian entrées, which include succulent lamb biryani spiced with turmeric, chile, and garam masala, or the tomato-, garlic-, and ginger-spiced chicken kuzhambu simmered with fresh coconut. Order both at the “Indian hot” spice level and add a side of cooling raita (thin yogurt mixed with onions and cucumbers) to dollop over the top if it gets too fiery. Various locations —RMM

Read More: the Best Indian Food in Denver

Love This, Eat That: What to Order at Indian Restaurants (Besides Tikka Masala)
Battle of the Indian Buffets: Himchuli vs. Little India
How to Cook with Indian Spices, According to a Colorado Pro
6 Denver-Area Eateries Slinging Divine Indian-Inspired Drinks
Total Vegan Indian Restaurant Is A Haven for Plant Eaters
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Dessert at Spice Room in Highlands

Barbara O'Neil
Barbara O'Neil
Barbara is one of 5280's assistant editors and writes stories for 5280 and
Ethan Pan
Ethan Pan
Ethan Pan is 5280’s associate food editor, writing and editing for the print magazine and Follow his dining/cooking Instagram @ethans_pan.
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia joined the 5280 staff in July 2019 and is thrilled to oversee all of the magazine’s dining coverage. Follow her food reporting adventures on Instagram @whatispattyeating.
Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane is 5280’s former digital strategy editor and assistant food editor. She writes food and culture content. Follow her at @riane__eats.
Visvajit Sriramrajan
Visvajit Sriramrajan
Visvajit is 5280's research editor.