From authentic South Indian restaurants boasting rich and flavourful regional dishes to an ‘Unauthentic Butter Chicken’ that defies tradition, this is our guide to the best Indian restaurants in Sydney.
Away from the westernised version of Indian food, a world of new flavours is waiting to be explored. Taking inspiration from across India’s rural regions and neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Sydney is home to some of the best Indian restaurants in NSW. Featuring many traditionally vegan and vegetarian options, choosing from one of Sydney’s best Indian restaurants is our go-to when looking for a dining experience that’s guaranteed to please palates.
INDU, Sydney CBD
South Indian + Sri Lankan Inspired Restaurant
Founded in celebration of village culture, flavours and local hospitality, INDU brings the best of South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine to the heart of Sydney CBD.
Backdropped to a rich emerald green dining space, carefully lined with overflowing spice pots, Indu sets the scene for a total immersion of the senses.
Must-try dishes include The Great Lamb Raan showcasing slow-cooked Lachlan Valley lamb shoulder marinated in a sweetly spiced masala served with a generous smattering of fresh mint chutney and lunu miris – a spicy Sri Lankan sambal for your to slather on as your tastebuds can handle.
If a liquid dessert is usually your go-to, don’t look past the spice-infused signature cocktail list featuring a Smoked Chai Old Fashioned made with Paul John Nirvana Whisky, Amaro, house-made Chai syrup, bitters & Applewood Smoke.
For those of the plant persuasion, keep an eye out for INDU’s regular Vegan Nights, showcasing some of the best Indian, vegan and vegetarian dishes in Sydney.
Don’t Tell Aunty, Surry Hills
A regional Indian restaurant that doesn’t play by the rule book.
With a menu spanning across all the regions of India (with Australian and American influences thrown in for good measure) expect everything from epic banquet menus to the restaurant’s iconic butter chicken.
While the menu showcases authentic and traditional Indian dishes, the ethos of the venue is anything but. Pushing back on Indian cultural tradition, owner and head chef Jessi Singh defies expectations with whiskey in the chai, men in the kitchen and women at the helm. The result is a good time place serving up elevated Indian dishes covering everything from North Indian street food to authentic flavourful pot curries.
For a less authentic feed, don’t look past Don’t Tell Aunty’s ‘Unauthentic Butter Chicken’ made without butter, ghee or oil but managing to cram in plenty of lush, rich, thick flavour.
Lankan Filling Station, Darlinghurst
Traditional Sri Lankan restaurant with a focus on hoppers
Replacing the need for cutlery, plates and bread, hoppers are a bowl-shaped savoury pancake made from a fermented batter of rice flour and coconut milk with crispy, latticed edges and a soft doughy crumpet-like centre.
Torn, folded, rolled, stuffed or dipped hoppers are undoubtedly the must-try vessel to shovel in the flavourful array of curries and sambols at Lankan Filling Station. Sop up prawns in a fiery chile, paprika, cardamom, turmeric, cumin and fennel curry sauce, or for those that can’t handle the heat, a gentle white cashew nut curry with cumin is just as flavourful.
The narrow, corridor-like space quickly gets filled with diners desperate for a taste of that famed Sri Lankan flavour, so be sure to head in early to avoid a long wait.
On the last Sunday of every month, Lankan Filling Station hosts a Crab Curry feast, serving up Sri Lanka’s most famous dish as a banquet meal. Seats are highly sought after so be sure to secure a spot in advance to avoid disappointment.
Chatkazz, Multiple Sydney Locations
100% Vegetarian casual Indian street food
Boasting over 200 dishes from regions across India, Chatkazz is Sydney’s best vegetarian Indian restaurant when it comes to family-friendly, crowd-pleasing dishes.
Expect fragrant dishes packed with flavour, many of which can rarely be found outside of India, including; the Vada Pav – spicy fried potato balls served in a soft buttered bread roll with chutney; a selection of Bombay Chinese dishes – an adaption of Chinese food that has become hugely popular in India including Paneer Manchurian – a dish of deep fried cottage cheese balls served with a rich Indo-Chinese gravy.
The venues themselves offer an ambience of casual chaos, somewhere between hawker-style seating and a family-friendly diner. The vast menu is also available for takeaway for those that prefer their Indian street food flavours without the bustle.
The Spice Room, Circular Quay
Authentic Peshwari-inspired Indian cuisine
Located on Sydney Harbour, The Spice Room serves up Authentic Indian cuisine specialising in Peshawari-style cooking. Peshawar, now in Pakistan, has a rich historical background which is reflected through an abundance of flavour in the vast food menu.
House specialities include; a Railway Canteen Goat Curry featuring tender goat meat slowly simmered in a rich sauce of Tomato, Ginger Garlic, yoghurt and coriander; and a House Black Daal of slow-cooked lentils simmered over 24 hours, in a rich, creamy and deeply flavoured gravy.
Due to its prime location, The Spice Room tends to get pretty booked up with diners seeking a pre-show feed. Be sure to secure a booking if you’ve got somewhere to be!
Foreign Return, Surry Hills
Indian-inspired dishes, reimagined with a modern twist.
Meet Foreign Return, another Indian bar and restaurant hell-bent on breaking all the rules. Founded by Javed Khan (from Newtown’s favourite Delhi ‘O’ Delhi), Gaurang Gahoi, and Kunal Patel, the vision was to create an offering that didn’t conform to traditional expectations.
The venue boldly refuses to typecast Indian food, instead choosing to recreate traditional dishes with a modern twist.
On the menu, expect dishes such as ‘Laal Maas’ (a slowly braised venison curry from Rajasthan), and a locally sourced, Pumpkin Wattleseed Naan with burrata.
Challenge your preconceived notions of traditional Indian cuisine on Surry Hills’ iconic Crown Street, 7 days a week.
Masala Theory, Surry Hills
Innovative neo-Indian restaurant on Sydney’s Crown Street
A huge, colourful mural lines the entrance to Masala Theory, setting the tone for the “Neo-Indian” theme that carries throughout the venue and menu.
There are definitely some authentic items found on the menu, but you’ll find more modern takes on regional dishes from all over India. Best-sellers include the Chicken Curry Bombs – similar to the traditional street food Pani Puri, which is a fried puffed-up ball, usually filled with masala veggies and chutney. The Masala Theory take is just as delicious, filled with chicken or veggies, and topped with butter chicken sauce. Definitely tailored to an Aussie-style Indian restaurant.
The dishes are as pleasing to the eye as they are the palette, boasting the same colourful beauty witnessed at the entryway.
Find Masala Theory at 545 Crown Street Surry Hills, open for lunch Saturday and Sunday and dinner 7 days a week. To find out more or book your spot, click here.