September 7, 2011

Looking for Gluten-Free Indian Food? Try Bombay Bistro in Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Ever since hearing that Bombay Bistro has excellent gluten-free Indian food, we’ve been meaning to check them out, but our schedule would never allow it, in part because the popular Boulder restaurant is only open for dinner. On a recent evening, however, we managed to make our way there, and we were amply rewarded for our efforts.

As the Bistro is not shy of pointing out, they were at one point rated first of Boulder restaurants on, a website designed to help travelers decide which places to visit on their vacations. This is no small accomplishment, as the rankings are based on reviews voluntarily posted by the site’s users. Bombay Bistro has since dropped to third (at the time of publication), but they remain very highly rated, and in any case a ranking of third out of 283 Boulder restaurants is very impressive. (In fact, the Bombay Bistro might be ranked third out of even more restaurants – as many as 345, some of which have no user-submitted reviews – but the official listing on TripAdvisor lists the Bistro as “#3 of 283 restaurants in Boulder.” Regardless, they have an extremely high ranking, and that’s the point to take home.) After eating there, it is no surprise that they have earned and maintained high marks.

Bombay Bistro is located in the heart of downtown Boulder, near the corner of 12th and Walnut Street. The interior is hip and nicely decorated, but we visited the restaurant on a blissfully warm late summer evening, so, naturally, we decided to eat on the patio, and hence we weren’t able to thoroughly document the interior of the Bistro. (Curiously, no one else was sitting on the patio, even though there were plenty of diners at the restaurant.) The patio is great – the chairs have large, soft cushions, so they’re quite comfortable, and you couldn’t ask for a better location (right along Walnut) to observe the happenings of Boulder as you dine.

Soon after we arrived, we were given garlic flatbread (or, more precisely, naan, a popular oven-baked flatbread in South and Central Asia). This was no doubt a nice gesture, and we appreciated the hospitality, but the bread, not surprisingly, had gluten in it, so we had to decline the offer. However, the Bistro offers gluten-free naan, so we ordered that instead.

There are several types of naan available, all of which can be ordered gluten-free. Having been offered the garlic naan initially, we decided to go with gluten-free garlic naan, but we could have ordered cheese naan (stuffed with cheddar cheese), kabli naan (stuffed with cherries, raisins, cashews, and coconut), or aloo naan (stuffed with lightly spiced potatoes). Our garlic naan arrived quickly, bridging the gap between sitting down and waiting for our dinner. It was served with an excellent pesto sauce, as well as a highly unique (at least from the perspective of the Western eating tradition) cilantro sauce with chickpeas and slices of onion, which was also tasty. The gluten-free naan itself tasted like other gluten-free flatbreads we’ve tried, which is not to say that it wasn’t good – it was – it just, you know, tasted like other gluten-free flatbreads we’ve tried. It was toasted perfectly, leaving it crispy but not crunchy (ahh, that golden mean), and it even had some air bubbles in it, which we’ve been fond of since our childhood (for whatever inexplicable reason).

Between ordering and receiving our naan, we ordered our main dish: the vindaloo curry with chicken. We’ll drag on about how great our meal was in a second, but first we must level our one minor criticism again Bombay Bistro, which is that the menu is not particularly easy to navigate for gluten-free eaters. Nothing is labeled as gluten-free (save a small sticker that says that gluten-free naan is available), so the server has to walk you through the entire menu, pointing out all the dishes that we could eat if we were so inclined. Considering that over half the menu is gluten-free (in our estimate), this is quite an extensive process, and considering that over half the menu is gluten-free, the Bistro would profit by either marking their gluten-free menu items as such on the menu, or else providing a separate menu that lists all the gluten-free options. Granted, this isn’t a huge deal, and this criticism would only emerge in the context of an review on a website like, but still, it is a little tedious to go through the entire menu with the server, and even after this is done, it’s hard to make sure you have everything straight.

That said, the vindaloo curry, a dish made with spicy tomato sauce and potatoes, was absolutely delicious. We don’t eat Indian food a lot (although we might have to adjust this tendency after dining at the Bombay Bistro), but it was certainly one of the best curries we’ve had in a very long time, especially when all the ingredients – rice, chicken, potatoes, and, of course, the fantastically spicy sauce – were mixed together. The potatoes, stripped of their skin and saturated with the tomato sauce, dissolve slowly as spice swirls around your mouth. This texture was perfect for the dish we had. Served in large square cuts, the chicken also went perfectly with the dish – it was loaded with the spice of the sauce, just like the potatoes, and we’ve never come across chicken that was rendered less tasty with the addition of a quality spice. Speaking of spice, the sauce that we’ve raved so much about comes in degrees of intensity, so if you’re not as enamored with spicy food as we are, you can ask them to tone it down if you’d like. (Vindaloo curry, however, is by default and tradition a spicy dish, so you may want to go with a different curry, or a different dish altogether, if you can’t handle any spice at all.)

Curry is by no means the only dish on the menu, so there are other options to choose from as well, ranging from appetizers to salads to other staples of Indian cuisine, like various meats cooked tandoori style. These dishes will need to be pointed out to you by your server, but they exist, and if they are anything like our curry, you should enjoy your meal very much.

It’s not hard to see why Bombay Bistro is a popular and highly-rated restaurant. Indeed, if we hadn’t taken the time to write this review, we would probably go give them a nice write up on TripAdvisor that would join the other 68 ratings that are overwhelming positive.

The full Bombay Bistro menu can be found here:

And the Bistro’s address is this:

1214 Walnut Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Note: Many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to We’ll try our best to check it out!

Read Next Article » Entire Lunch Buffet is Gluten-Free at Ras Kassa’s in Boulder
Previous Article « Lucky’s Market in Boulder Now Offers GF Products from The Gluten Free Bistro

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