Taste of the Southeast: Reviewing the Best Indian Food in Irvine


Jordan Lee

Annapoorna’s lunch buffet offers a great variety of traditional Indian dishes, including Chicken Tikka Masala and Palak Paneer. While Irvine has a relatively large Southeast Asian demographic, Indian food is not as popular as many cuisines like Japanese and Korean.

Jordan Lee and Shawyan Rooein

Ramen joints and Korean Barbeque Restaurants dominate Irvine’s Asian culinary scene, capturing the taste buds of both Asians and non-Asians alike. However, Indian cuisine is largely overlooked by even the most committed food connoisseurs. 

Trying Indian food for the first time can be daunting, especially with the lack of representation from food bloggers and local food culture. To simplify this process, we have handpicked four Indian restaurants that are sure to spice up your foodie experience. 

Southern Spice: One of the newest restaurants serving Indian cuisine in Irvine, Southern Spice is a fantastic lunch or dinner spot for diners unfamiliar with Indian cultural food. Located in the Crossroads Plaza, Southern Spice serves both north and south Indian dishes, as well as street food like pani puri (hollow round crepes filled with flavored water). We recommend ordering the saag paneer, masala dosa and chicken tikka masala, as they provide a variety of spicy and savory flavors. Each entree is served with rice and dipping sauces, and can serve two people. Traditional Indian decorations and rustic booths contrast well with the casual sit-down atmosphere.

Annapoorna: Located off Culver Drive in the Heritage Plaza, Annapoorna offers a great lunch buffet as well as entree options for a casual meal. The buffet, which is only $12 dollars, boasts a wide assortment of curries, biryanis and appetizers. We recommend the Lamb Biryani (seasoned rice and meat bowl), Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken in spiced curry) or Palak Paneer (cheese cubes in spinach sauce). Each dish has a great balance of sweet and savory, with just enough spice to make your taste buds tingle. Annapoorna also has a delicious Veggie Samosa, a dumpling-like dish, as well as Gulab Jamun, a syrupy milk-based ball, for desert. 

Anjappar: Taking a more traditional approach, Anjappar is a great option for Indian food lovers if you are willing to make the farther drive to Tustin. It features a primarily south Indian menu, specifically Chettinad cuisine from the Tamil Nadu state in south India.  We really enjoyed their classic biryanis and dosas and found that it had a great all-around menu. Unique to this restaurant, Anjappar also has many seafood options for those who do not eat lamb or chicken.

Natraj’s Tandoori: Featuring a more American fast-food style, Natraj’s Tandoori is great if you are in a rush and don’t want to pay the extra price of a sit-down restaurant. Though it does have tasty pre-made options, Natraj’s Tandoori has many other options that you can order off the menu. We recommend ordering the combination meal that comes with rice, naan bread and two or three side dishes like curry or masala, which is great if you are new to Indian food and want to try multiple dishes.