Badmaash: A Badass Indian Restaurant
LA isn’t known for great Indian food. Certainly not when compared to its plethora of high-quality Thai, Korean and Japanese restaurants (and Chinese and Vietnamese if you venture to the San Gabriel Valley). Yes, everybody says Artesia (the Indian restaurant hub) is great, but my one or two experiences down there weren’t anything special, and it’s a bit of a haul from LA proper. And then Badmaash opened.
Badmaash is not your cookie-cutter Northern Indian restaurant. In fact, they bill themselves as LA’s first Indian gastropub. The food is a combination of elevated traditional dishes (like a chicken tikki masala that isn’t just overcooked chicken in tomato sauce but rather has some texture and flavor in its sauce) and not so traditional ones, like my darling of the moment, a Punjabi pork curry that is somewhere between a pulled pork and a stew in texture, paired with yams and some raw onions on top that gives it a bit of heat, a bit of sweet, and a bit of bracing crunch. While some classics, like the Badass Chicken Tikka (moist and yummy tandoori chicken) or a traditional samosa (the featured picture) appetizer, are fairly constant, others rotate through the menu seasonally. For example, for a while they offered a melt your face with deliciousness Indian-style “cioppino.” Personally, I liked to think of it as their version of a bouillabaisse, but no matter what you call it, it was off the chain. In fact, I should have chained it up when I had a chance, but hopefully it will make its way back to the menu from time to time as a special. (Chef, if you’re reading this…) Burger fan? Their lamb burger (pictured below) will do you right. Personally, I like to get a little mango chutney on the side and slather it on gradually with my knife while I eat.
My own particular spot is at the counter, left-most seat of the three elevated seats, so that I can watch them cooking. I come here often, so the wait staff takes great care of me, but part of the reason I started coming here often (other than the food being so yummy) is that the wait staff took great care of me from the beginning. Factor in an attractive aesthetic (no kitschy, stereotypical Indian decor here) and A Tribe Called Quest on the Pandora (and often Bollywood films screen silently on the wall), and you have a place that’s fun and relaxed. Tip for the newbies: there is a unisex bathroom on the main floor, but there are also additional restrooms downstairs.
Located at 2nd and Main downtown, it’s close to Little Tokyo. It’s a very short walk from East West Players, and about a 10-minute walk from the Ahmanson, Mark Taper Forum, Music Center and Disney Hall. Even Cornerstone down in the Arts District is probably only about 10 minutes. So Badmaash is a perfect pre-theatre spot. An appetizer and a main (with rice and/or naan) will set you back somewhere in the mid-30s (before you add wine or beer), which makes it a reasonable component to a nice night out. Or just go there when you need your Indian food fix. Tell them Jonathan sent you.
108 West 2nd Street #104, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Open for dinner daily and lunch M-F. Reservations on Open Table, or counter seating for walk-ins.