Madras Cafe

All Vegetarian Restaurant
Average: 3.6 (32 votes)


(Chennai-Tiffins is now at that location)

Email: <none>
Location: Mira Mesa (map)
Info Hours
9484 Black Mountain Rd.
San Diego, CA 92126

Reviews (Write a review)

Author Title / Comment Rating
RAM (unverified)
Aug 28, 2011
Worst Service

Recently i went to this restaurant. The waiter insulted me in many ways.

I ordered Idli, vada combo and coffee. The guy first given me to coffee. I asked idli vada combo. He told me that it would come later. Such type of non-sense he behaved. Then he brought idli-vada combo. He never given sambar / chutney second time. Then i was waiting for check for long time. He did not give. I asked him. He replied it is on process. I waited...waited...till 30 min. Asked once again. Same answer came. I went to counter and complaint.The cashier lady told that my bill was already ready. I got fed-up with that waiter guy. So i decided that here after i never suggest to any one to go this restaurant.

Dr Dr Dave (unverified)
Nov 18, 2010
Satisfied Customer ~10 years

I have been going to this place for about 10 years and continue to love it through various transitions. I first came here with a friend from Madras who wanted to introduce me to south Indian cuisine, and we both still frequent this place. (I have no affiliation with the pace. I'm a western white guy).

I'm not sure what is going on with all the negative reviews here, but I imagine that one or two people are simply doing a bunch of hit pieces for whatever reason. Another issue may involve expectations. South Indian cuisine is not the standard fare you'll find at most Indian restaurants in the US. It reminds me more of 'home cooking,' without all the bluster and spiciness that some expect. Lastly, the lunch buffet is probably the best way to try south Indian food, as most westerners will be unfamiliar with most menu items.

Ram (unverified)
Nov 01, 2010
Best Indian food.

I'm a regular to this place. Great food and friendly staff. Love their buffet and Dosas. Not sure why would anyone complain about the pricing, when their most expensive entrée is only $8.95.

kal (unverified)
Aug 23, 2010
Not so ethical pricing and charging.

I am not sure how some of these review got in. Honestly, none of the cooks are from India, leave alone south indians.
The food has become more mediocre.
Their pricing is rather high for a place that is not even clean. There is a constant smell of remnant food in the place. Also, they give you the option to only by CASH when you send in catering order, telling you they will not charge you sales tax! This is illegal. The city and IRS needs to look into this. So by taking cash they not only rip off the city, state and fedral govt, but also make you an accessory to the crime. AVOID paying cash so they can declare all their income.

e. simple (unverified)
Mar 17, 2010
Not authentic, heavy reheated food!

If you have never had south indian food before, may be a good start. But most of the food like idli, bisibele, vada,e tc. are reheated. You can see especially piping hot, mainly because of microwave! They do not have authentic cooks either. Not clean, so be aware!

Deb (unverified)
Sep 12, 2009
5 Stars!

We had terrific food and wonderful, personal service. I'm wondering what's with the people who said their service was so poor. We were delighted.

Anon (unverified)
Mar 21, 2009
Service Sucks

The worst degree of hospitality .. the owner is a stuck up who earns business only due to the monopoly .. this place would be closed shut if there were other south indian restaurants near by.

Food is good, but the customer service sucks.

Jean (unverified)
Feb 22, 2009
Love It

The food is excellent. I love the Bhindi Masala (okra). I was just looking to see how late they are open on Sunday and came across this site. Go! If you like south Indian food, you'll love it.

Murali (unverified)
Jun 29, 2008
Absolutely Pathetic

We visited Madras Cafe on a recent visit to San Diego. The service was bad and the food was quite bad too.
Don't order the Rava Masala Dosa !!

Uma (unverified)
Mar 27, 2008
Best South Indian Food!

We are from salt lake city, utah. On our visit to San Diego, we had lunch at Madras Cafe twice. Its the best south indian food we had in four years after coming to US. The food is heavenly. I will definetly visit this place again whenever I am in San Diego.

Vita (unverified)
Jan 12, 2008

For almost two years, we have been happy customers of the Madras, driving 30 miles each way to enjoy the delicious dosas, uttapam and idli. Lunch buffets are not only consistently good, but they change and different dishes are served. I am GF/CF, and never have any trouble getting advice about which curry or dish is not prepared with wheat or dairy. Staff is always courteous and attentive. We always take out of town guests here, because we know they will enjoy the place. If 5 is the highest score, put me down for a six!

juan (unverified)
Jan 03, 2008
best south indian cusine EVER

i went with my family and all of us had the buffet(all u can eat+dosa,idly)it was just simply the best,and good service as well! so go an give it a try

amb (unverified)
Nov 26, 2007
a favorite

i have always had fantastic food here. service can be slow, but i've never had the dreadful experience some here claim. yes, food is in metal dishes, which is totally authentic indian style. my only problem is i like it so much i overeat. yum!

Aparna (unverified)
Oct 06, 2007
Good Food!

I like the food at Madras Cafe. I agree with some of the reviewers, sometimes it is touch and go. I have been going there for almost 2 years now and I can only recall 1 incident where I wasn't satisfied. I like the curries at the buffet. My mother was here from India 2 months ago and she loved the buffet and said it was authentic food and very tasty! Please give the restaurant another chance--I AM NOT THE OWNER OR AN AFFILIATE. I think everything deserves a few chances. Yes, the waiters are not optimal but at the buffet you serve yourself. Yes, the music is weird and I don't know what they are singing about but it adds to the atmosphere. Try the Murukku available at the front desk. I took my son (1 year old) and he loved the Idli.

Squeak (unverified)
Aug 17, 2007
Bad food and worse service

Went there for the lunch buffet the other day - the food was awful, and the staff, when they deigned to show their faces, did nothing but glare at me. Serously, go to Cafe India on Sports Arena, or India Princess on 4th Ave. Or just go without - you'd still be better off.

Amy (unverified)
May 05, 2007
Great south Indian thalis and snacks!

We ordered a thali and a masala dosa with sambhar and chutney. Although this wasn't the best dosa I've had, it was quite good. I do think the coconut chutney is thinned down, but I understand there are regional differences, so I'm not sure this is just a cost cutting measure? The sambhar was fantastic and we enjoyed everything on the thali, especially the channa dal, carrot pickle and halwah. We were so full we couldn't manage more of the big selection of sweets, though they looked good. Maybe next time? The atmosphere is more that of a snack shop than a sit down restaurant, but I think the prices reflect that. Madras Cafe is very reasonably priced for filling portions of snack/street style food.

Indian (unverified)
Dec 06, 2006
Great Restaurant

This is a great vegetarian restaurant. Awesome food and friendly service. I found it hard to believe some folks are not satisfied with the place. Just visit the place and see it for yourself.

jeannette (unverified)
Aug 17, 2006
great food!

All the Indian folk I know eat here. Great food, great service! Be sure to stop by on a weekday to get the vegitarian all you can eat buffet. Great non-buffet selections also!! Excellent lassis also!!

sss (unverified)
Apr 25, 2006

This place sucks. The Dosa and sambhar were salty and the chutney stale. Service horrible. WE had to wait for 30 minutes for a glass of water. Quality very poor

Vamshi (unverified)
Mar 10, 2006
This place is bad

I say that this place is bad because:

1. I got a dead butterfly in my food. I did not make a big fuss of this on that day, since I had guests who were hungry that day. Dont know if health officials are inspecting this place.

2. Environment is unfriendly. Same old music which most of us do not understand. If they include other languages, may other south indians could enjoy atleast.

3. Waiting after ordering. Dont know where the waiter goes after taking the orders. Maybe to start growing the veggies.

abc (unverified)
Feb 11, 2006
Pathetic customer service!!

The customer service is absolutely frustrating!! People shouting at the waiters and the owner is not an uncommon sight. Waiters forget about your order. On multiple occasions, they had to reminded a few times that you in fact are sitting there!! Whats worse? The owner does not care even if you complain because he knows that this is the only south indian food joint around!! is good when it is served!!

Green Cow (unverified)
Mar 30, 2005

Greetings, I was on my way to this Indian market square with the intent to visit the first cafe I saw, which turned out to be Ashoka. I'll be going to Madras or at least checking their menu for another review, but just so you know about Ashoka; It's a nice place and all, their 9$ buffet would've been nice but the waiter explained there was only one vegan item I ordered an 11$ Aloo Gobi (always been a favourite of mine) and 3.50$ for 2 poori's. I let him know I'm vegan and he said 'is oil okay?' hah! never heard of a non-oil vegan. but i hope he knew to not butter the poori's and whatnot. The wait wasn't too long, the plate of aloo gobi was kinda small, but the whole meal was very filling. With tip I payed 20$ for myself which is why I'll definitely not be returning to this place ;] There's only a few vegan items on the menu (plenty for vegetarians) So, there ya go!

Hmm picking a 3.5 as I believe that's what the current rating is for this place. Website owners should add a no-rating option for multiple comments without skewing the total.

Erica (unverified)
Mar 29, 2005
Southern Indian Cuisine at It's Finest

Madras is an all time favorite for myself (full vegan) and my omnivore companion. San and Madras' friendly staff listened attentively and modified recipes for me from the beginning. Definitely try the paper masala dosi (just ask for no yogurt). And as for the comment that the meals were served in metal 'mess hall' dishes, welcome to traditional South Indian cuisine. Serving meals on metal dishware is exactly how it is served in India. This restaurant is definitely a welcome respite from overpriced vegetarian competitors and the flavors cannot be beat!

adam pascu (unverified)
Jan 03, 2005
Madras cafe is great

I love this place - I live nearby and work nearby, so it is a regular place for me to get their buffet lunch. They are 100% vegetarian and the buffet is open on weekends. It is located in a small Indian community center and you can get americanized indian food across the street, but this stuff is the real deal.

I love food (unverified)
Dec 24, 2004
Favorite Indian Food, Great lunch buffet

This is one of my favorite restaurants hands down for lunch, the buffet is welcoming and I've tried many South Indian dishes because of the vast assortment. I wouldn't recommend for dinner because the menu is not very descriptive and a little expensive. However, service is friendly and who cares about the decor, the food speaks for itself. The dishes are full of flavor and not greasy like some North Indian restaurants. The menu appears authentic and I think the fact that I'm one of the few non-Indian customers on a given day supports that.

Veggie Lover (unverified)
Dec 10, 2004
Great Vegetarian Food

I am a regular to this place. Lunch buffet cost $6.95, its a real deal and they have different items every day. You should try their Dosas(Masala Dosa in particular) it is the best.

John (unverified)
Jul 28, 2004
Deliciouas Vegetarian Food

I've become a regular to this place. Great food and friendly service.

FoodLover (unverified)
Nov 16, 2003
Yum !!

Try the Butter Masala Dosa. Deliciouas food. Love the buffet.
Not sure about the decor. It sucks.

San Diego Insider (unverified)
Oct 02, 2003
Best Indian Food in San Diego.

If you are vegan/vegetarian, you should check out this place. Service is good, waiters are frendly and the food is awesome. No wonder they got the "Best Indian Curry in San Diego" award by Reader magazine.

Robb Frey (unverified)
Sep 02, 2003
Went twice, and...

...the service is good, decor is decent, BUT...the food just didn't taste nearly as good as most Indian places! The filling was sparse in every Dosai and Uthupam we got (Most of their entrees are Dosais/Uthupams.) -- yet for the worse taste and scant portions, it cost MORE than better Indian places.
Although it's North Indian (and therefore, mostly different offerings), I'd recommend Ashoka (great food, decent prices), right across the parking lot from Madras, which is veg-/vegan-friendly, and who also explain what's vegan or not.

Robb Frey (unverified)
Sep 02, 2003
Oh, but about SoyBear's comments:

The waiters seem knowledgeable about which dishes are vegan, at least, and are happy to point out not only ingredients, but how they differ -- although they once gave me some yogurt (on the side, luckily) despite that I requested it to be held (so I pawned it off on a lacto-veg :-) ). Also, I've been to plenty of good Indian places that serve the meal in similar metal dishes...So my only major complaint is the food.

Soybearbrew (unverified)
Aug 30, 2003
Indian Eating at the Mess Hall

All of the items on the menu did not explain whether there was milk in them. Food for the most part was fine. Not Great. Fine. All the food was served in metal mess hall dishes.