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Family Dining in Marin: India Palace

Food at India Palace in Mill ValleyBoth my husband and I love Indian food, and we're slowly trying to steer our kids in that direction, too. With its spices and heat, Indian food can be a hard sell with kids, but we take them along anyhow with the hope that they'll grow to appreciate it.

India Palace is located in, of all places, the Travelodge on the Redwood Highway frontage road in Mill Valley. It's been a Marin County Indian cuisine mainstay for as long as I can remember, so they must be doing something right. We've been going here for years, both with kids and without. The interior is nicely decorated and comfortable, and it really doesn't feel like you're dining in a motel.

While it seems that a lot of Indian restaurants have opened up in Marin in the past five years or so, we still love India Palace. Service is warm and attentive, and the staff seem to really like kids. There's a large window between the dining room and the kitchen, and the kids love to watch the chefs put skewers of chicken and lamb into the blazing hot charcoal-fueled tandoor ovens.

Food is pretty much your standard northern Indian fare. They do tandoori really well here, and the vegetable curries (we like the aloo ghobi) and naan are tasty, too. We usually order the vegetable samosas, too, which are crisp, non-greasy, and just spicy enough.

When we go out to Indian food with the kids, we like to hit the lunch buffet, since there's usually something there that everyone will like. Our six-year-old sticks with rice, naan, and tandoori chicken, while our more adventurous third-grader loves to try new foods and enjoyed the vegetable pakoras, pappadums, and the chicken tikka masala-like curry.

Everyone also liked the fact that there was rice pudding for dessert and a vacuum pot full of hot spiced chai tea. We just wish they'd bring hot naan to the table like most other Indian restaurants do; India Palace has it keeping warm in a rice cooker near the buffet table, and it loses any crispness and puffiness that it had when it was fresh.

India Palace exteriorThe buffet costs $8.95 per person, with small kids being half price (our waiter wasn't too clear on what the age cut-off was).

India Palace is located at 707 Redwood Highway, near Seminary Drive, in Mill Valley. They're open daily for lunch from 11:30 am to 2 pm and dinner from 5 to 9:30 pm. Call them at (415) 388-3350 or visit them online at

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