Distress rippled through Atlanta’s Indian-food-loving community when standard-bearer Madras Saravana Bhavan closed a couple years back, and skepticism met its replacement, the similarly named Saravana Bhavan owned by a South Indian hotel chain. It may have taken a bit for the kitchen to calibrate itself, but SB is now my favorite local restaurant for a broad taste of vegetarian South India. What I specifically crave, labeled as the “special meal,” is a gorgeous thali headlined by vegetable curries made in the style of Tamil Nadu, the state at the bottom tip of the subcontinent. The flavors of black mustard seeds, herbaceous curry leaves, and pleasantly sour tamarind careen through these preparations. Go at lunchtime, when the crowd is mellow and the service is at its most attentive.
2179 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur 404-636-4400, saravanabhavan.com