Star of India
1820 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach
It's the freshness of the food and the owners' originality that make this great. They even made their own tandoor -- the oven -- from clay they dug out of Pottery Canyon, near La Jolla Shores. You sit under a grand sky-blue cupola with high windows and yellow walls. The tables all have white linen cloths, maroon top mats, and fresh flowers. The lunch buffet includes vegetable pakora (fried veggies dipped in chickpea batter), tandoori chicken, chicken tikka (in cream and tomato curry), palak paneer (creamed spinach), navrattan korma (nine vegetables) with cheese, nuts, cream sauce, and kheer (saffron-flavored Indian rice pudding). Best of all, you can make unlimited trips to the buffet.