North vs South isn’t a question most people ask when they’re in the mood for Indian cuisine. In fact, most diners probably don’t know the difference.

The Cliff Notes version is Northern cuisine is what most Americans would equate to “typical” Indian food featuring naan, yogurt and cream sauces, and it is primarily carnivorous in nature. Southern Indian food is usually vegetarian, uses coconut, dal (lentils) and has rice-based dishes. The latter is what Amaravathi, Sunnyvale’s newest Indian restaurant, brings to the table.

Interior décor is almost nonexistent except for brightly colored walls painted in the colors of the Indian flag, and it’s furnished with sturdy wooden chairs and tables. The menu is a bit hard to navigate for an outsider, as there aren’t many pictures and no real English interpretations to help. Despite my preliminary research, I found myself resorting to Google multiple times to help me determine what to order. Unfortunately, our server, while friendly, wasn’t much help, as there was a bit of a language barrier. After a few minutes of discussion we settled on our orders and away we went on a culinary journey.

We started out our meal with the doughnut-like Andhra Garelu ($5), a dal fritter that is typically served for breakfast. Fried crisp, they are served with Amaravathi’s signature chutneys: peanut, ginger, coconut and tomato. Each chutney was more delightful than the last—fresh, clean and bright, they enhance without overwhelming. The next course was the Chilli Paneer ($8), which was comprised of fried chunks of cheese in a chilli-tomato sauce and topped with fresh red onions and cilantro. By far, this was the hit of the meal, as the decadently sweet and spicy sauce married well to the cheese and freshness of the onions and cilantro. I would come here just for this dish alone.

Amaravathi’s specializes in dosas (huge pancake-like crêpes made with fermented rice and black dal) that are undercoated with a filling of choice. I chose the Guntur Chili Dosa ($6.50), which comes brushed with a spicy red chili mix and the aforementioned chutneys. Dosas are meant to be eaten manually, so put away the cutlery and dunk it into any of the amazing chutneys. While the chili mix wasn’t eye-popping hot, it did start to make me sweat after a few bites. Luckily I had the forethought to order their delightful Mango Lassi ($3) to help quell the heat.

Amaravathi is distinguishing itself from other Indian restaurants in the area by specializing in southern cuisine, and they deliver at a very reasonable price point. Get out of the northern comfort zone and try some good ol’ southern Indian comfort food.

Amaravathi Indian Cuisine
673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale.