Tucked into a small shopping plaza away down south, across from the entrance to the Disney resort area, is Dakshin - an extraordinary South Indian restaurant. It features dishes from the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu - hard to find cuisine in restaurants usually dominated by by more northern Indian fare.
Dakshin is a beautiful and gracious restaurant, hidden away in an otherwise ordinary plaza and next door to the tourists’ favorite: TGI Fridays. The tourists don’t know what they’re missing as they walk by this gem of a restaurant to a chain place they can visit at home in Ohio.
I’ve been to Dakshin literally dozens of times, mostly with a friend who is from southern India. The curries and other dishes are less rich than the cream-based sauces of northern states; they tend to be tomato based, and they're flavored heavily with fresh spices and herbs. If you are looking for hot curries, you can get all the heat you want and more right here. But the sauces can be mild as well. If you need to tone down the heat a little, get a side of pachadi, a cucumber and yogurt sauce to cool your tongue.
The lamb madras and chicken chettinad are authentic southern dishes with layers of flavor. I really enjoy the allepey fish curry with its tangy sauce, and their paneer (cheese) dishes as well. There are many kinds of rice to choose from: coconut rice with mustard seeds, creamy curd rice, and just plain sweet basmati.
The breads here are not the typical naan - oven cooked flatbread. The bread of choice is a rice crepe-like dosa, a huge crispy pancake that can be used to sop up the meat and sauce. They are delicious, fresh and hot off the griddle.
For dessert, they offer, among other things, a wonderful pistachio kulfi - a frozen treat somewhere between ice cream and marzipan. The mango lassi, a sweet yogurt drink, is rich and delicious.
The lunch specials are a good value: you can get a plate with a selection from the lamb, chicken, vegetarian or seafood menus, a dosa, rice, sambar (vegetable soup with lentils), and coconut chutney for seven to nine dollars. The portions at both lunch and dinner are generous.
Dakshin is far and away the best Indian restaurant in Orlando, and they are worth multiple visits. Their entire menu is online at www.dakshin-orlando.com. They do carry-out as well.