Tiffin's India Cafe is named for the portable mid-morning or midday meal in South India. What the tiny strip-mall eatery lacks in decor and amenities, it more than makes up for in brash flavors and addictive street-food offerings not found in many other Front Range Indian restaurants. The four-year-old counter-service joint started out serving only vegetarian dishes, and it still specializes in meatless dosas, biryanis and curries — but chicken, lamb and shrimp have since been added to bolster the South Indian selection. Those offerings include idlis (steamed lentil- and rice-flour cakes) that soak up sauce like savory sponges, and vadas (deep-fried rice-flour "doughnuts") served with a selection of power-packed chutneys or drenched in vibrant, tamarind-infused sambar stew. Despite the fast-casual setup, the service at Tiffin's is warm and welcoming, and the staff is thrilled to answer questions about the menu. The bold colors of the more familiar curries, like brick-red vindaloo and earthy eggplant bengan bartha, are a giveaway that even bolder flavors await. Skip the competition's boring and heavy all-you-can-eat buffet and trade up for Tiffin's fresh and vivid layers of spice.
Readers' choice: Little India