Before we dig into the best South Asian food in Niagara Falls, let’s do a little demographic data digging.
For comparison, the next two-biggest demographics took comparatively tiny leaps: the number of Chinese residents merely doubled from 1,235 to 2,230, while Black residents increased from 1,730 to 2,84, a 64% rise.
This is to say nothing of the huge number of South Asian tourists, who comprise one of the largest demographics of visitors. As Ishani Nath wrote in The Juggernaut, Niagara Falls has become “an unofficial pilgrimage for South Asian visitors and, for many, an essential stop in the pursuit of the American Dream.” It’s an essential part of the Canadian immigrant experience, due to its close proximity to Toronto and the American border, its accessible layout and the majesty of the falls themselves. This phenomenon is not exclusive to South Asians, but the attraction undeniably appeals to them. Long-distance family visits, long weekends, special events: time to drive down to Niagara Falls.
This is all fantastic news for anyone who loves South Asian food—which, fortunately, the team here at Found in the Falls very much does. (The same cannot be said for other ethnic food in the city, alas.) We’ve personally tasted many of these excellent restaurants, several of which are post-pandemic new, taking advantage of the booming industry and growing local scene. If you stick to what’s around Clifton Hill, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Venture out to Queen, Main and beyond for what is undeniably some of the best South Asian food in the whole Niagara Region.
Flavors & Spices
The pandemic shuttered many restaurants on Queen Street, including a decent American-fare spot called the Moose and Pepper Bistro. But after Flavors & Spices moved in—their second location, after a successful one in Brampton—we here at Found in the Falls HQ totally forgot about that moose-and-whatever place, and now eat here once a month. Their buttery soft naan is arguably the city’s best, and their curries match the restaurant’s name, packed with both flavours and spices that meld beautifully. Some of our favourites include the delectably soft Kashmiri curry goat and spicy daal makhni, though the momos, butter chicken and array of hefty (and affordable) biryani options are worth the cost. Their vibrant social media presence puts an emphasis on their colourful cocktails and 4 am closing time, but for our money, the food is where it’s at. A mid-cost, high-quality dining option gives it the best of all worlds.
Kaashi Indian Cuisine
Possibly the newest newcomer on this list arguably also boasts the best-quality Indian food in the city. More of a fine-dining, white-tablecloth experience, Kaashi emphasizes wine pairings, with a vast array of local vinos on hand. The prices aren’t outrageous, but they are higher (compare their butter chicken at $20 to Flavors & Spices’ at $17, for example); that said, the quality is noticeably impressive. The spice blend, depth and cohesion of the flavours is excellent, with less blunt spiciness than some cheaper Indian restaurants. We opted for the saag paneer and daal tadka with lamb biryani and a few garlic naan, and every dish tasted rich, smooth and balanced. The menu is also a little more expansive and daring than other Indian spots, with rarer vegetarian items like paneer jalfrazi (vegetables in a fenugreek tomato sauce), baingan bharta (smoked eggplant with ginger, garlic, tomatoes and spices) and benarasi sabji (basil-coconut vegetable curry), which you won’t find elsewhere in Niagara Falls. Cost-conscious tourists may not want to pay $25 for a lamb biryani that’s smaller than what you can get elsewhere, but if you feel like a high-end splurge, you can’t do better.
Spice N Flames
This hole in the wall, tucked in a strip mall corner at Town and Country Plaza on Portage, is a takeout-only Indian spot that offers flexible, tasty dishes for a few bucks less than you’ll find elsewhere. When I say “flexible,” I mean they spice their dishes from scratch, so can omit any spice you don’t like—or, in the case of a kid, can’t handle. (They do have a kids’ menu of chicken strips and pasta, but, seriously, if you’re eating out with a child, just give ’em some naan and paneer curry and they’ll be happy.) You won’t find anything on this menu that you can’t find elsewhere, but we appreciate the emphasis on simple, well-made dishes for a takeout spot. The service is also extremely friendly, with more of a family-friendly vibe. If you’re getting your food to go anyway, save some dollars and give ’em a try.