HOUSTON – If you want to feel truly transported while eating great Indian food, we know just the place! By we, I mean myself, Olivia Kolanek, Houston Life Associate Producer, and Houston Life Photographer Paul Shelton. Located in the Garden Oaks area next to the beautiful ISKCON Temple is Govinda’s, an authentic Indian eatery serving delicious vegetarian and vegan cuisine. We took a trip to the restaurant to learn about the culture, religion and of course, all their tasty dishes.
ISKCON stands for International Society for Krishna Consciousness. According to Govinda’s Marketing and Communications Director, Chirag Bhatt, the ISKCON Temple owns and operates multiple Govinda’s restaurants all over the U.S.
“The monk that inspired us to build this temple, it was his dream to open a restaurant that served the local community by providing healthy dining options, and in a way it’s sanctified food as well,” said Bhatt.
Govinda’s menu is strictly vegetarian, and currently serves a full vegan menu Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. But we quickly learned that you do not need meat to have amazing flavors as well as textures. Govinda’s Manager Saranga Das explained why they strive to make their guests dining experience so robust.
“Govinda’s means ‘Which gives pleasure to all senses,’” said Das. “So by looking at the food, by taking the aroma, by tasting and by texture you are basically pleasing all your senses - not only senses, but your body, mind and soul.”
As far as travel goes, as soon as we stepped onto the grounds of the ISKCON Temple, I felt like we were in a completely different city. Though the ISKCON Temple is currently closed to visitors due to COVID-19, we were lucky enough to get a peek inside to view the beautiful interior and learn more about the deities worshiped there.
India, like many countries, is extremely diverse with a myriad of different people, cultures, religions and cuisines. With its rich history and ancient cities like Vrindavan, which has stood for more than 5,000 years, the country offers so many points of interest for future travelers.
In the meantime, Govinda’s is open for limited dine-in service and takeout. Though you can’t visit the temple, I would bet any of their warm and generous staff members would be more than happy to share their ISKCON knowledge while you enjoy their amazing dishes.
For the full interview, watch the video above. To connect with Chirag Bhatt and Saranga Das, visit Govinda’s website.