Those looking for authentically vibrant South Indian vegetarian cooking will find nirvana at this Curry Hill lunch spot—a no-nonsense joint brightened with neon-pink and bright-orange panels. A branch of a famous Chennai establishment, Saravanaas gets its spices right in the pillowy idli (dumplings) served with a mosaic of sambars and chutneys; onion and chile utthapam (a thick rice and lentil flour pancake the size of an individual pizza); and yogurt rice studded with cashews and raisins and spiked with mustard seeds. The restaurant is best known for its dosas, mammoth-sized yet lacy-thin crispy-edged crêpes rolled around mildly spiced mashed potatoes and served with the requisite sauces and garnishes.
Tip: Come back for a breakfast of sweet spiced masala chai tea and savory doughnuts called medu vada.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.