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Denver's five best Indian restaurants

Lamb vindaloo from Cuisine of the Himalayas.
Lamb vindaloo from Cuisine of the Himalayas.
Lori Midson

We're equal opportunity in our love for Indian food, favoring specialties from both the north and the south, and marveling at the way chefs from all over the country blend spices into complexly layered stews. And here in Denver, we're always on the hunt for spots that stand out from the masses and offer us something special.

Unfortunately, Mirch Indian Grill, our Best Indian Restaurant in Best of Denver 2011, bit the dust shortly after the issue came out. But here are Denver's five best Indian restaurants that are still standing.

Denver's five best Indian restaurants

5. India's Castle

The billowing tapestries and paper lanterns set the stage at India's Castle for one of the best northern Indian feasts in the city. The menu features excellent versions of familiar items, including spice-laced vindaloos, masalas and curries; flaky samosas stuffed with potatoes and vegetables; and meats from the tandoor oven, imbued with smokiness and char.

Denver's five best Indian restaurants
Lori Midson

4. Cuisine of the Himalayas

This Evergreen restaurant serves up a combination of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan food, offering up curries, masalas, samosas and kormas that are all worth the drive up the hill. But the dish that brings us back over and over again? The lamb vindaloo, a graceful balance of tartness and heat -- and one of the only renditions in town that really gets it right.

Denver's five best Indian restaurants
Lori Midson

3. India's Restaurant

There's not much on the menu at India's that's particularly unfamiliar, but the place does the staples -- like tikka masala, saag paneer and vindaloo -- very, very well. It also has a lunchtime buffet that blows most lunchtime buffets out of the water, and you can sample as many of the Punjabi specialties as you can handle without worrying that you're getting a dumbed-down, mediocre version just because it's sitting on an all-you-can-eat line.

Denver's five best Indian restaurants
Lori Midson

2. Masalaa

Even the staunchest carnivore won't miss the meat at this all-vegetarian, mostly southern Indian place that's occupied an address in an Aurora strip mall for nearly ten years. Between the dosas, the idli, the uthappam, the aloo paratha, the chutneys and stew upon stew of curried vegetables, each brimming with delicate flavor combinations, we could just about be convinced to go veg ourselves if we could always eat at Masalaa.

Denver's five best Indian restaurants
Mark Manger

1. Jai Ho

Before they opened Jai Ho in the spring of 2010, Sathya and Sujatha Narayan, an architect and a realtor, respectively, had never owned a restaurant. But when they moved to the Denver area eight years ago from Vancouver, they noticed a gap in the Indian offerings. And so they filled it. Triumphantly. The restaurant features a menu of mostly southern Indian specialties, including dosas, gongura chicken and fish curries. The menu's difficult to decipher, but we've never been served a bad dish. Which is what makes this place, which I review this week, our very favorite Indian restaurant in town.

Know of a great spot we missed? Let us know below.

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