The Taj Mahal restaurant in Santa Cruz Bolivia, owned by an Indian-born chef, is a welcome surprise in a city known more for churrasquerías (grills). Its location on Calle Bumberque No. 365, a residential street one block East of the CineCenter movieplex, keeps the Taj Mahal hidden from the public eye, but lends it an air of exclusivity that blends perfectly with its elegant interior.
The restaurant occupies what used to be a very large house. Upon entering you are welcomed by pristine gardens and an interesting lighted fountain, along with a generous and very comfortable seating area on the outside patio where you can enjoy your meal outdoors seated on sofas or simply await a table.
The reception area offers an additional seating area with sofas. To your left you'll enter a large glass-encased dining area that offers you a full view of the gardens. Here your eye will immediately be drawn to a photographic mural of the Taj Mahal that occupies one wall, and other large paintings and art. The furnishings are well-chosen in simple, minimalistic lines. The tables are elegantly set up with wine glasses and bottles, and tablecloths with intricate Indian designs.
An additional smaller seating area toward the back of the room gives you the option of closing a sliding glass door if your party needs more privacy, and is located next to a large glass-encased wine cellar. The restaurant is cool and air conditioned with a hint of incense and very low Indian music playing in the background. The decor, scents, low lighting and music will transport you to the continent, and set the mood for the genuine Indian flavors you're about to enjoy.
The Taj Mahal has a wide range of imported wines and a large selection of Indian entrees, dishes (dozens), and desserts to choose from. The menu is carefully divided by choice of meat (chicken, lamb, beef, etc.), curry sauces, and bread selections, all amply described in both English and Spanish. You won't have any trouble understanding the menu. Your only problem may be choosing from so large a selection of foods, all of which sound and look delicious.
Each dish is served in a small silver serving bowl and the traditional Indian flat bread accompanies in a basket, all set in the center of the table, making it easy to order several dishes and share them amongst your party so everyone can sample different types of food. Simply spoon a little of each onto your plate, then scoop them onto your bread.
The food was very well prepared, not too spicy, and very flavorful, as Indian food tends to be with just the right hints of curry and spices. You should be forewarned that while the dishes initially look small, they are filling (as is the bread, which received multiple ooooh's, aaaah's and mmmmm's), and you may be surprised to find, as we were, that you may not be able to not finish your meal. Your waiters will graciously pack it up for take-out if you don't want to leave anything behind.
While the Taj Mahal may be considered expensive in a country where you can eat a full meal for $2, our party of five enjoyed a bottle of imported wine, a generous plate of entrees, a large basket of Indian flatbreads, 4 different dishes (half of which we took home), very attentive waiters who treated us like dignitaries, and an atmosphere permeated with the wonderful aroma of curry and incense, for a total of Bs. 427 (currently equivalent to $61.00 well-spent, completely un-regretted dollars). If you enjoy Indian food, GO!
Mon - Fri 19:00 - 00:00 / Sat 12:00 - 15:00 - 19:00 - 00:00.