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Interesting Indian south of 23rd?

(My first chowhound post!)
A visiting Indian friend wants to eat Indian with a difference. Tabla-ish but less staid. Any suggestions? The poor guy lives in Pittsburgh where haute cuisine is a giant sandwich.

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  1. The Bread Bar is not too staid but if you want to completely go in a different direction, may I recommend Chennai Garden on 26th st. Though buffet and vegetarian kosher, it is quite delicious, cheap and authentic south-Indian cuisine. You could also try the place above Kalustyan's. The chef used to work at Tabla and takes alot of his influence from Chef Cardoz.
    Best of luck and stay away from Devi.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wazup1999

      Chennai Garden isn't really "Indian with a difference" although it is quite tasty.

    2. Thanks! I don't like Devi either. What about Tamarind? I've heard good things about it. (Vegetarian is out. The guy is from Pittsburgh and he'll kill me if I take him to Chennai Garden!)

      4 Replies
      1. re: gumnaam

        What's wrong with Devi? I have a Sat reservation...would like to know if I'm wasting my time. Is it just about the price, or is the food awful in some way?

        1. re: Hungry Celeste

          I love Devi! I've been there several times and have always had a great experience in terms of service and food quality (and delicious-ness).

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Devi is more expensive than other Indian restaurants, outside of some of the old midtown stalwarts, but there is no point pretenting it's not considerably better than Banjara or Brick Lane or most of the places mentioned on this thread.
            I haven't been to Surya, but it sounds like it's a lot better than Surya too.

            1. re: Wilfrid

              I just think that on the cost for quality front, Devi is just not worth it. The food is a bit on the rich side, somewhat like the Mughlai restaurants in Delhi. Lots of butter. (Compared to the restaurants I've eaten at in Bombay; where the same dishes are more subtle and not just laden with cream and butter.)

        2. Banjara is good...they have a lot of Goan specialties.

          1. Brick Lane Curry House is fantastic. Spicy goan, sweet and velvety korma and a delicious potato dish cooked "bombay" style.

            1. I love Tamarind. I think it doesn't get enough credit at all.