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Mouthful - Indian

5 Atlanta eateries we're nuts over

Cafe bombay

Located in a shopping center that is also home to a sari shop and the Ethiopian restaurant Queen of Sheba, Cafe Bombay's interior may look strip-mall bland during lunch when the buffet's steam tables dominate the large dining room. Come evening, however, dimmed lighting and soft Indian music create a dreamy, intimate atmosphere. Vegetable pakoras, lamb naan and chicken afghani (in a coconut milk-based curry) are standouts. 2615 Briarcliff Road. 404-320-0229.

Chopaati

Chopaati has a bright, clean, nondescript interior and serves good-value, fast-food-style vegetarian Indian fare. Start your meal with Gujarati dal — a tomato and lentil soup spicy enough to steam your glasses over. Then move on to chole bhature (curried chickpeas served with crusty fried bread), and paneer kaas, a thick cashew nut and cream gravy with chunks of seared paneer cheese. 1707 Church St., Decatur. 404-296-2965.

Madras Saravana Bhavan

Madras remains the highlight of Decatur's South Indian restaurants. Most every table orders a rolled, tire-sized dosai crepe as the meal's centerpiece, but there's much more to explore. Think creamy vegetable dishes, crispy salads, and savory pastries made for dunking. 2179 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur. 404-636-4400. www.madrassaravanabhavan.net.

South Indian Cafe

This underappreciated spot serves specialties from the southwest state of Kerala. Hone in on dishes like thoren, a stir-fry of carrots and cabbage with dried coconut and spices, and aviyal, a tasty mush of vegetables stewed in coconut and tamarind. This one isn't strictly vegetarian, and carnivores should consider the fish curry served in a rich, burnt red sauce with a slightly sour, fruity edge to it. 751 DeKalb Industrial Way, Decatur. 404-297-8882. www.southindiancafe.com.

Vatica

There is no menu at Vatica. For a truly modest price, the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat meal on a thali, a round metal tray upon which five or six harmonious dishes are served. This isn't the usual assortment of flabby, overcooked vegetables in creamy curry sauces. This is home-style cookin' like your mama would have made, had she been from the Gujarat in western India. 1475 Terrell Mill Road, Suite 105, Marietta. 770-955-3740.





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