Greetings friends of curries and Indian buffets. TripAdvisor and non social-media-savvy restaurant owners have not provided me with a good resource as I travel, and somebody needs to do it, so I will step up and rate the Best Indian Buffets in the West.
First, let me explain my reasoning and methodology. The “buffet” industry is a tough business. A restaurant must have a big variety of flavors and colors while keeping costs low. Potatoes, spinach, cream and chicken are less expensive than beef, lamb and goat. This is why 95% of Indian buffets have a bunch of vegetarian dishes and 1 or 2 chicken dishes, but rarely have red meats. I get it. The Indian culture is professional, and most restaurant employees see themselves as servants, and as such should be straight-faced, not smile, not acknowledge my friendliness etc. It is a cultural thing, and I get it.
I like goat and lamb and beef. I like flavorful curries with low to medium heat. I like a friendly atmosphere. If a restaurant does not offer these things, they will not get a good mention from me. If, like Saffron Valley in Salt Lake City, a restaurant stops serving red meats, I will have to drop them from my list of Best Indian Buffets in the West.
#1 Indian Buffet in the West is Guru Palace in Mesa, AZ.
Guru Palace has a mid-sized seating area, with all the tables close to the buffet. The buffet typically has salad, a number of very good chicken and vegan offerings and my favorite; goat curry! The staff is generally not overly friendly, but a couple of them have broken down over the years and smiled back at me. The naan is excellent, the Lassi is excellent and did I mention the goat curry?
As with Jamaican goat curry, Indian goat curry is traditionally served on the bone. This makes for a wonderfully messy meal, and is the best way to go! Be careful as you eat it, there are many sharp bones, which are fun to gnaw on when you get used to it. I prefer to get some of the curry sauce from the chicken dishes and pour it over my rice, then put the goat curry on top. With some of the creamy spinach on the side, some naan, I am in heaven!
#2 Hilal Grill Indian Buffet in Phoenix AZ is really not so much Indian and Afghani and Pakistani. It is incredible, with strong traditional spices, not “dumbed down” for gringo taste buds.
This restaurant is a must-visit, the lady that greeted and seated us was wonderful, whomever answered my question via Facebook was great and a huge hats off to the chef!
After moving to Phoenix, Chef Mamoona Hilal felt like the city was lacking in delicious halal options. She wondered if she could create her own menu of mouthwatering Pakistani, Afghani and Indian cuisines with affordable rates. She shared her idea with her husband, Muhammad Hilal Safi, and the two went ahead to open up their very own restaurant! It started off as Tahoora Grill, and Phoenix fell in love with its flavorful and exotic dishes. And for those looking for a halal food that tastes like heaven on their tongues, Tahoora Grill was a godsend. Around half a decade later, the restaurant got a new look and a new name: Hilal Grill. Same good food under a new banner!
From grilled meats, rich curries and spicy biryanis to seafood fusions, all-veg entrees and fruity lassis, it’s a literal feast for even the choicest palate. For the desis in Phoenix, it’s a trip back home for a fraction of the cost you’d have to pay for a plane ticket. And for those who’ve yet to try out exotic flavors, Hilal Grill is the perfect place to tickle your tastebuds and become a fan. With its variety of South Asian cuisines, mind-blowing prices, and wholly halal ingredients, Hilal Grill is your ideal flavourtown destination!
#3 is still Saffron Valley in SLC, despite not having lamb, goat or beef, is still #1 of the Best Indian Buffets in Salt Lake City.
To be continued… if you know of buffets I should check out, please let me know!
Shepard Humphries enjoyed home cooked food with his middle eastern friends while an under-graduate in Wyoming. This sparked his interest in curries and other foods of that region. While he finds Pakistani and other middle-eastern curries to be better than Indian curries, Indian restaurants are much more popular. It takes a big man to be the multi-state expert in Indian food, and Shepard is that big man. As a big man that likes variety, he prefers buffets. Shepard travels Wyoming, Utah Western Colorado and Arizona, always seeking out new and better Indian Buffets.