Flavor: Akash’s lunch buffet is so addictive, so undeniably tantalizing, that we somehow find ourselves walking in even we don’t intend to. Of course, there are plenty other options to satiate your Indian fix, including a nice version of Chicken Tikka Masala and a variety of lamb-based dishes. There’s also a nice selection of vegetarian-friendly dishes.
Flair: The staff holds down the spacious dining room with friendly aplomb. Better yet, they never judge us for going back to the buffet more times than is probably prudent.
24 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-723-1300. Open 7 days. $6-$13.
Flavor: Perhaps the classiest of the Indian restaurants along Ludlow Avenue in Clifton, Ambar touts a neat and simple dining room with white tablecloths and consistently good service. The Chicken Tikka Masala is one of the best in the city. Wash it all down with cool refreshing Lassi or a bottle of King Fisher.
Flair: The dining room is airy and bright with plenty of windows. Unlike some other Indian places, they do not offer a buffet. Winner of “Best Indian.”
350 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-281-7000. Open 7 days. $10-$16.
Flavor: Serving completely vegetarian and vegan Indian food not found in many local Indian eateries. Try the Dosas (rice crepe with a multitude of fillings), Uthapams (a south Indian style pancake) or any of the old standbys like Vegetable Korma and Chana Masala. Amma’s also offers Indo-Chinese dishes and a lunch buffet for those who can’t make a decision.
Flair: Amma’s isn’t interested in dazzling with décor but lets the food do the talking. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly.
7633 Reading Road, Roselawn, 513-821-2021. Open 7 Days. $5-$10.
Flavor: North Indian fare such as Saag Paneer (spinach, onions, ginger, Indian spices and Indian cheese with a hint of cream) and Chicken Korma (pieces of chicken cooked in a cream curry sauce with nuts and raisins). Complete the meal with an order of Naan — there are 10 varieties to choose from, including garlic and paneer (cheese filled).
Flair: The tantalizing smell of aromatic spices will have you salivating as you slide into one of the many booths in the large dining room. Enjoy the tinkling sounds of Eastern music as you point to your entrée selections for the server.
354 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-961-3600.
Open 7 days. $8-$14.
Apna Indian Restaurant
Flavor: Specializing in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, you’ll find the usual favorites like Saag Paneer, Bhartha and Nav Rattan Korma (an almost chocolaty mix of vegetables, cashews and cream), as well as selections such as the Kadai Ginger Chicken and Goat Curry. You can even have it delivered.
Flair: Quiet and quaint, Apna keeps the buffet up and running for lunch and dinner. For good Indian in a pinch, fill up a container with your favorite selections and take it to go.
341 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-861-6800. Open 7 days. $9-$14.
Flavor: Baba is known for its gentle blending of herbs and spices, featuring authentic cuisine from Northern India. Known for its savory “tandoori” oven dishes, exotic curries, excellent naan and various mango juice beverage.
Flair: Baba’s large room features tables topped with white cloth — a nice counterpoint to the exotic, mouthwatering dishes that sit upon them. And its no-frills atmosphere isn’t a minus — this place is about he food.
3120 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-1600. Open 7 days. $6-$14.
Brijmohan Indian Sweets & Restaurant
Flavor: Brijmohan features delicious vegetarian Indian fare. Try the Malai Kofta, a creamy onion and tomato sauce with mixed vegetable balls. Or homemade cheese dishes like spicy chili paneer. Or saag paneer with spinach and unique breads like Kashmiri na’an, baked with raisins and cashews.
Flair: This small, family-owned and -operated restaurant is expanding to serve more diners lunch and dinner every day but Monday. Brijmohan is the only local Indian restaurant that sells fresh sweets prepared in house.
11277 Reading Road, Sharonville, 513-769-4549. Open Tuesday–Sunday $7-10.
Cumin Eclectic Cuisine
Flavor: Executive Chef Owen Maass makes magic in the kitchen with tantalizing new creations that will make you feel like you’re in New York or Los Angeles. Try the Heirloom Corn Polenta (with mushrooms, haircot vert and vermouth fondue) or Chickpea Stew (with cumin, curry and coriander seasoning). Pair these with a selection from one of the most comprehensive wine lists in the city, cozy up in the Buddha Lounge and you can’t go wrong on a date.
Flair: The restaurant’s striking, hip space features ebonized maple floors, African anigre wood, chrome and black dining tables and stunning white banquettes. Try one of the signature cocktails like the Bollywood (orange and pomegranate juice mixed with cava sparkling wine) or the Jewel of India (vodka, cranberry juice and pomegranate liqueur).
3520 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-8714. Open Monday-Saturday. $8-$30.
Flavor: The newest addition to the collection of Indian restaurants on Ludlow Avenue is a strong contender. Taking the focus off of the spice and showcasing the flavor of the fresh, quality ingredients is Dusmesh’s method. The lunch buffet is a good way to sample the offerings, but it doesn’t compare to one of the hot fresh dishes off the menu.
Flair: A clean space with lots of windows, glass-top tables and warm orange walls. The friendly staff gives them an edge over the competition. Yes, it’s another Indian restaurant in Clifton, but trust us, it’s one you’ll want to try.
3944 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, 513-221-8900. Open Monday-Sunday. $8.49-$14.99.
Flavor: Owned by the same family that runs Ambar (among other local spots), Kanak is yet another solid entry in Cincinnati’s diverse Indian cuisine sweepstakes. Not surprisingly, it’s a lot like Ambar. Laced with traditional Indian menu items, it’s definitely the place to stop in to for a hearty meal in Montgomery.
Flair: Like the family’s other eateries, Kanak offers a quintessential lunch buffet marked by hearty, exotic choices.
10040B Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-793-6800. Open 7 days. $5.99-$16.99.
Flavor: Our mouth waters just thinking about Krish’s Indian cuisine. The special lamb biryani, saag paneer and the samosas are works of wonder. It’s delicious but no-frills, served in a carryout box.
Flair: Basic, tight quarters are provided, as three small booths sit opposite the cooking and cashier line. Taken to go or eaten in, it’s a fine thing to be overpowered by Krishna’s steamy, curried haze.
313 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights, 513-961-2878. Open 7 days. $7-$10.