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Best Of 2012: Indian/Curry

Every head in the house turned when my Tandoori chicken arrived, sizzling and popping and looking all plump and orangey-red. I noticed a little jealousy among my tablemates, though that might have just been the spice-laden steam literally bringing tears to their eyes. But once we started in on our meals at Mirch Masala — cleaning up extra sauces with spongy naan, and washing it all down with Indian beers, and wine — each plate commanded a laser-like focus from its owner. I don't think anyone shared a bite of anything. To prevent this situation from unfolding during your visit to this perennial Best Of finalist, consider the daily lunch buffet: $8.95 for an admirable selection of meat and vegetarian options, plus dessert. I know of at least one woman who regularly travels from the far reaches of Woodland Park just for the privilege. — Kirk Woundy

Bites 2012

Holding several past Best Of victories in the last decade (and generously sharing its delicious rice pudding recipe on its website), Mirch Masala's expansive Indian lunch buffet ($8.95) rivals its competitors easily. As do evening entrées like curries, tandoori meats, biryani, and rich paneer plates.

Price: $

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