Aug. 22 2014 02:57 PM

Small Encinitas outpost is tops at the exotic and the more familiar

KCs Tandoor
Photo by Jenny Montgomery

For such a sprawling swath of real estate that encompasses what's called "North County," there's a surprising dearth of decent Indian restaurants. Sure, there are a handful of run-of-the-mill buffets, but fewer places with expansive menus worthy of deeper exploration. Fortunately, I found KC's Tandoor in Encinitas, and it might just become my go-to place for a little taste of the Subcontinent.

What started as a successful catering business is now a shiny little nook tucked down in a shopping center off of El Camino Real (1070 N. El Camino Real, Suite A). What's lacking in foot traffic is hopefully made up for by local word of mouth.

I don't normally go for Tandoori chicken—not because I have anything against it, but because it's everywhere and mostly the same wherever you go. But, hey, I have a 2-year-old who's got to eat and she likes the kooky-colored, lemony bird. KC's charges a buck extra for white meat, so keep that in mind. The chicken doesn't rewrite the script, but it's juicy and tasty and just what you want.

Dig a little deeper, though, and check out some of the Southern Indian specialties. I dived into a bowl of curried coconut shrimp, soaking up the complex mix of sweet and savory with dosa, an enormous, thin pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter. Thinner and crispier than the ubiquitous naan, dosa has a bit of tang and a delicacy that's addictive.

On the slightly more familiar tip, I see myself returning for the simple pleasure of the butter paneer tikka masala. Even the most voracious of meat eaters has to appreciate the salty yum of paneer—cubes of cheese that happily swim in a vibrant red sauce. My wimpy tongue asked for the mildest version, but I still felt a lot of heat, so you spice lovers will be delighted.

Maybe it's because I'm weeks away from giving birth and I've apparently entered a cravings phase, but my normally moderate sweet tooth cannot be stopped. That's why I was in Heaven tucking into a small serving of hot, milky balls called gulab jamun. The warm, creamy spheres of sweet milk paste come immersed in simple syrup laden with the exotic flavor of rose water. It's a small bit of dessert, but for less than $2 a serving, it packs a creamy, intensely sugary hit that tastes unique and special.

I encountered a few service hiccups during my visits—like cashiers not always being completely familiar with menu items, or certain things being unavailable—but, overall, I found this little strip-mall treasure to be a wonderful and refreshing find. On one visit, the owner was there, and she couldn't have been more accommodating. She even noticed that I'd dropped my plastic fork on the ground and, unaware that I heartily embrace germs, immediately brought me a basket of fresh flatware to choose from.

I'll keep searching for more surprising and unexpected finds when it comes to Indian food, but, for now, KC's Tandoor is tops for me in the top of the county.

Write to and Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennymontyinsd.


  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28