Standing on the corner of Walnut Street, it is impossible to ignore the fragrant aromas of spices and food coming from Shiva’s Kitchen, a cozy eatery offering bold Indian flavors with many vegetarian and vegan options.
Siva Kumar, owner of Shiva’s Kitchen, previously ran an award-winning vegetarian restaurant called Walnut Grille at the Walnut Street location for a decade.
“I was running Walnut Grille, which was vegetarian-vegan,” Kumar said. “We opened the business in 2012.”
The Walnut Grille announced its closing in March 2023. According to Kumar, it struggled to sustain itself after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After COVID, we weren’t able to get the old business as a vegan-vegetarian restaurant,” Kumar said. “We lost a lot of business.”
It’s been six months since Kumar revamped the location as Shiva’s Kitchen, an Indian restaurant featuring meat options and diverse dishes from his own heritage.
“It’s been six months from Walnut Grille to Shiva’s Kitchen,” Kumar said. “We are getting good feedback, people [are] liking it. So far, so good.”
Even though Shiva’s Kitchen now serves meat products, it remains a good option for those with dietary restrictions, as the vast menu boasts a wide variety of clearly labeled vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and nut-free choices.
“Still, we are featuring lots of vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian options,” Kumar said. “Even the menu, it says ‘V’ means vegan, ‘GF’ means gluten free, ‘NF’ means nut free.”
In addition to the full-service restaurant, Shiva’s Kitchen also brings its taste of India to customers through catering and food delivery services. Kumar says that takeout is the business’s main source of revenue.
“We partner with companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and stuff like that,” Kumar said. “That’s a pretty decent amount of orders.”
For dine-in eating, Shiva’s Kitchen presents the food with carefully decorated garnishes in silver bowls, which add an aesthetically appealing component to the delicious food.
Shiva’s Kitchen’s chicken tikka masala offers a bold take on an Indian staple. The flavor is vivid, but not overpowering, especially when paired with the accompanying basmati rice, cooked to a light and fluffy texture. The garlic naan offers a perfectly chewy medium to soak up the flavorful sauce.
Jim Spencer, a Newton Highlands resident, said he brought his children to Shiva’s Kitchen on a Saturday night to get a change of pace from their usual diet.
“We live very close to here,” Spencer said. “We have a couple of our staples that we go to and order from, but we said, ‘let’s do something different.’”
Other customers like Anthony Ray, MCAS ’27, first tried Shiva’s Kitchen through food delivery. Ray said he enjoyed his food so much that he decided to dine in on a Saturday night.
“This is my first time [actually eating] here, but I got it on DoorDash once and I really liked it so I said ‘let’s go here for dinner,’” Ray said.
Though Shiva’s Kitchen is still a budding restaurant in the Newton community, Kumar said he is optimistic about its future.
“It’s getting better day to day and hopefully next year we can get more sustained success,” Kumar said.
Shiva’s Kitchen serves Indian food with vegetarian and vegan options. It is open Tuesdays through Sundays at 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner at 1203 Walnut Street.