Gill’s Indian Buffet Makes Hotel Stillwell One of the Best DTLA Lunchtime Destination

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since Uncle John’s Ham & Eggs was forced out of their old school diner and into the kind of scary looking Hotel Stillwell (on Grand between 8+9th). The gussied up decor ruins a bit of the charm, but the old hotel more than makes up for whatever “weirdness” they might have lost in the transition. Their Chinese/American diner food mash up is still one of my favorite places to eat in Downtown L.A., but it turns out it’s not the only great lunch to be had in the hotel.

As a big fan of buffets, I couldn’t help but notice the old sandwich board outside the hotel promoting Gill’s Indian Buffet. I don’t usually get turned off by the sketchiness of a lunchtime scene, but the lobby isn’t exactly inviting and the thought of walking into the bowels of an abandoned looking hotel searching for an Indian buffet had horror movie written all over it. But the $7.95 price tag (and my all you can eat loving gut) eventually won and this past Friday I finally gave into the lure of the Stillwell Hotel’s Indian buffet.


The lobby is as strange as you’d expect, a well lit throwback that can’t decide if it’s a hotel lobby or the ground floor of an office building. More weird than scary, it definitely could have been used as a location in the Shining (the elevators looked like they are no stranger to blood.)


If the lobby was like a Kubrick movie, than the restaurant itself was like walking into a David Lynch set. You know you’re in an Indian restaurant, but there’s something just a bit off (but still awesome) about the place.


The buffet is small scale (meaning they have less than 10 items), but there is a mix of vegetarian and meat items. In true buffet fashion I took a small bit of each item for testing purposes. Clockwise from the top, there was dal, a mixed veggies dish, a chickpea dish, meatballs, tandoori chicken, and chicken tikka masala. The dal was surprisingly tasty, and actually a bit spicy, and the meatballs were good enough. But the best dish by far was the chicken tikka masala (you might say the secret ingredient is butter) which tasted a bit more like butter chicken than chicken tikka masala.


They bring fresh baked naan to your table, and there is also salad, raita, and dessert available on the buffet. The dishes change daily, and nothing we had was out of control delicious… but it was all good enough that I would definitely go back. For $8, all you can eat, it’s a pretty amazing deal for Downtown. And you don’t have to take my word for it… the small place was not only jammed packed but they even have tables out in the lobby available for overflow (proof that the crowd wasn’t an accident but likely an every day occurance.)

Gill’s Indian Restaurant, 838 S. Grand Ave., 213-623-1050

If you park in the lot just to the left of the restaurant on Grand, it’s $2 with validation.


1 Comment

  • pass by this place many times en route to the 7 & Grand spots — I always thought it was a funny spot to have an Indian buffet; glad to know it’s pretty solid! And Ooo… warm naan!

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