Tantraz doesn't have the best Indian food, but this special occasion Indian restaurant scores peppers for its creativity, customer service, unique decor, and club nights. Fellow blogger TikiChick explores it with me.
7 out of 10 Peppers = Spicy
The Details: In Southern California, there are literally hundreds of Indian restaurants. I know this well, because Nick and I did the research before I embarked on this blogging adventure. (Well, Nick did the research anyway. He is way better at estimating than I am. My original analysis was, "Babe, there's only, like, 10 Indian restaurants in Los Angeles." As a rebuttal, teacher that he is, he had me recite the names of the ones I'd already been to...yeahhh, there was at least 20 restaurants right there, and turns out that doesn't even scratch the surface.) Of these hundreds, there are no more than 10 (I got it right this time!) that are "special occasion" restaurants. Some of the ones that spring to mind are Tanzore, Chakra Cuisine
I lucked out because for this review, my friend and fellow blogger TikiChick and her boyfriend joined Nick and me. It's really great to go out with someone else who, like me, is constantly blurting out "Don't eat that yet! I need a picture!" in the middle of otherwise sane conversations. She also understands the value of experiencing as many things as possible on the menu, so she's generous with sharing food off of her plate. Her boyfriend, frequently referred to as Mr. Baseball on her blog and I won't blow his cover here, is also a great sport (pun intended, yes I'm a dork) and he and Nick were able to talk their hearts out about baseball, while TikiChick and I discussed the food.
Tantraz doesn't have the best Indian food, but it doesn't have to. What it has going for it are creativity, excellent customer service, a unique decor (TikiChick loved it; it was a little too bank-vault-esque for me, but again, I give it creativity points), and apparently has club nights with a live DJ and dancing (which I may have to go back and check out sometime). The customer service started from the minute my reservation request phone call was returned, when the employee took the time to ask me, "Are you celebrating something special?" (On a negative note, the restaurant is no longer on OpenTable, so when I first tried to make a reservation at 3 a.m. when I finally got some spare time, I wasn't able to do so. But my phone call was returned within a few hours.) I'm pretty sure the restaurant is open for only dinner, and I'd definitely recommend getting a reservation on weekends at least.
So, on to the food:
All in all, I'd definitely come back here on another date with Nick or with a group for a birthday dinner or club night. Price-wise, it's more affordable than other special occasion Indian restaurants, specifically Tanzore and Chakra Cuisine. The only other thing you need to be aware of is a downer, and that's the parking. In short, it blows. Be prepared to spend $5 to valet at the restaurant. TikiChick and Mr. Baseball were more familiar with the area (and weren't running late like Nick and I were), so they were able to get free parking on a neighborhood side street. Check the signs for parking restrictions and to see what time the meters stop being enforced on Sunset (I want to say 8 p.m.).
Of course, no outing with TikiChick is complete without going to a TIKI BAR! She took us to one of the Top 5 Tiki Bars in the United States: Tiki-Ti, which is just a half mile down the street from Tantraz. (Again, a quick warning about the parking; you may have to walk a ways from your parking spot. Tiki-Ti definitely is not the style of place to offer valet.)
I definitely recommend Tiki-Ti, though get there early (by 10 p.m.) for a better chance at not not having to wait in line, as it does regularly reach capacity.
What's your favorite special occasion Indian restaurant?
Tantraz: The Art of Indian Cuisine, 3705 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (neighborhood: Silver Lake) 90026. (323) 663-8268.