Long a mainstay of Houston's Mahatma Gandhi District, Shri Balaji Bhavan continues to thrill both newcomers and lifelong customers with its picture-perfect spins on Indian street food classics. The place is as much a snack shop as a restaurant, but it's easy to cobble a meal together from platters of chaat. These include the dahi puri, whose airy-crisp shells brim with chutney, yogurt, chile and wisps of fried sev (fine noodles of chickpea flour). There are also the finely fried and fiery green onion pakoras (fritters studded just so with whole spices). Don't pass up the lace-edged dosas (huge half-moon crepes of fermented batter stuffed with spiced vegetables) or the delightfully chewy chole bhature (fried bread served alongside a bowl of spicy chickpeas).
READERS' CHOICE: Pondicheri