India is a culinary paradise for foodies, with diverse cuisine that changes from state to state (yes, there's so much more to Indian cuisine than ubiquitous butter chicken!). The country also has some of the top restaurants in the world according to prestigious lists. Read on to find out which ones they are.
Asia's 50 Best Restaurants
Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list is an offshoot of the definitive World's 50 Best Restaurants list published by William Reed Business Media. These lists aim to showcase leading trends and highlight outstanding restaurants. They're based on the opinions and experiences of restaurant industry experts who participate in a voting process independently adjudicated by Deloitte.
The 2021 Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list was compiled with the input of more than 300 industry experts across the continent. Each region has its own panel of members made up food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs, and highly regarded "foodies". In 2021, voters each nominated seven restaurants, including up to five from their home country.
As is to be expected, widely-acclaimed Indian Accent appears on the list for the seventh year in a row, this year in 18th place. It retains its title of Best Restaurant in India too. Indian Accent has won the hearts of many gastronomes, including Indian food critic Vir Sanghvi who labeled it as the "cuisine phenomenon of the decade". The restaurant is headed by widely respected chef Manish Mehrotra and its inventive cuisine is classed as contemporary modern Indian. Previously situated in Delhi's Friends Colony, Indian Accent relocated to its glamorous new home at The Lodhi hotel in Delhi in late 2017. (It also has branches in New York and London).
New entrant on the list this year is Mumbai's Masque, in 32nd place. This is an outstanding achievement for the restaurant, which opened in 2016 and features a tasting menu-only concept. Chef Prateek Sadhu uses seasonal and indigenous Indian ingredients in his transformation of traditional recipes into modern dishes. His menu is inspired by his childhood memories in the Himalaya region (he's from Jammu), as well as regional Indian recipes. Notably, the restaurant opened its Masque Lab in 2020, where new ingredients and cooking techniques are investigated and tried. The restaurant's location, inside one of Mumbai’s former cotton mills, also adds to the atmosphere.
Bukhara, at the ITC Maurya Sheraton hotel in Delhi again dropped off the list, after making a return in 2020.
Foodie World Top 100 Restaurants
Two restaurants in India made it onto Mode Media's 2016 list of the Foodie Top 100 Restaurants of the World. Unfortunately, Mode went bust not long after, so there isn't a more recent edition of the list.
The Foodie Top 100 list aimed to provide an alternative to Michelin's restaurant ratings -- one that was authoritative, and not trendy or controversial. The restaurants on the list were nominated and selected by a panel of heavyweight food critics from around the world.
Indian Accent was one of the restaurants including on the list. The other one was Bukhara. No surprises there, really! Bukhara is the world's most famous Indian restaurant. It's renowned for its rustic atmosphere, open-fronted kitchen, and delectable Northwest Frontier tandoori cuisine. The likes of US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have dined there.
Karavalli, at the Taj Gateway Hotel in Bangalore, dropped off the list in 2016. This was very disappointing. It's a hugely influential seafood restaurant, and one of Bangalore's iconic restaurants, that's finally getting global recognition. The specialty is coastal Indian cuisine served on banana leaf.
However, the fact that two Indian restaurants appeared on the list was quite an achievement. Nearly 70% of the list was made up of restaurants from Japan, France, and the US. (For the record, Australia only had one restaurant on the list, as did Singapore, Thailand, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden).
Other Top Restaurants in India
In addition to the global list of the world's 100 best restaurants, Mode also compiled a regional list of the best restaurants in each country. The Indian restaurants included on this list were:
- Dum Pukht in Delhi
- Varq in Delhi
- Gajalee in Mumbai (one of India's finest seafood restaurants)
- Beach House in Goa (exceptional Goan cuisine)
Notably, many of these top restaurants belong to the Taj hotel group.