A Garden of Flavorful Delights


India Garden 328 Atwood St. 412-682-3000 $ Panther Funds: Yes

Oaklanders don’t… India Garden 328 Atwood St. 412-682-3000 $ Panther Funds: Yes

Oaklanders don’t have to travel too far to catch the very best of Bollywood. In fact, all they have to do is head down Atwood Street.

India Garden is a local favorite that offers a full menu of traditional Indian faire. The menu can be a little pricey for those running on a college student’s budget, with the most expensive dishes running about $12. Certain meals, however, are offered for half-off from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and there is a daily lunch buffet, making the food an affordable treat.

On the down side, the restaurant doesn’t do much by way of service. One better know what it is that he wants because the waiters aren’t much for explaining dishes or offering suggestions. Needless to say, the regulars come for the food and half-off, not for the service.

On the up side, the food is good, really good. Most dishes are served in a sauce-based manner with a serving of rice. Depending on your preferences, you can smother the rice with the dish and eat the whole messy shebang, or you can simply enjoy the two separately.

There is also an instituted spicy-scale system. Whether you like to test your taste buds with a fiery 10 or play it safe with a mild two, they will make the food to order.

India Garden offers an impressive variety of menu items, including 18 different vegetable dishes, which makes the restaurant decidedly vegetarian-friendly.

Entrees include such classics as chicken curry, chicken tikka masala and shahi chicken korma.

Other meat entrees are available using lamb and goat meats, and seafood dishes such as shrimp vindaloo are offered as well.

Appetizers run the gamut from three different varieties of regular nan (bread) – make that classic, garlic and onion – to garden raita and mango chutney. Desserts are offered as well, including ice creams and rice pudding.

For those of age, the restaurant showcases a full drink menu in addition to the bar situated at the front of the dining room. You can choose a classy wine to complement your food if you’re on a date, or just throw back some brews with your buds while chilling during half-off. You’ve got your pick, too, from domestic to imports to specialty Indian beers.

The atmosphere of the dining room depends on the time of day you visit India Garden. If it’s a late lunch during the afternoon, the room will be bright, relatively quiet and calm, perfect for a business lunch or catch-up chat between friends.

At night, the mood is a little different, as the dining room is usually full with patrons coming for the specials at half-off. The lights are dimmed, and the room is darker and a bit noisier.

The signature calling card of India Garden is its food. It’s hard to find a better tasting chicken tikka masala in Oakland. If you don’t mind the atmosphere at night or the less-than-stellar service, it’s worth the trip for half-off.

And you even get a little taste of modern Indian culture while dining on your Indian food: Bollywood music videos on are continuously played on the TVs mounted in the corners of the room, which can be entertaining or distracting, depending on your point of view.