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Opinions on the little cafe above Kalustyan's?


A few of us are thinking of a mellow easy dinner before Wednesday Night's Top Chef finale.

We'll be watching near Curry Hill (that's what Lex and 27/28th is called, yes?) so we thought Indian would be a good choice.

I'm specifically intrigued by the cafe above Kalustyan's. How is it? Any specific recommendations? We're not looking for fancy -- just yummy.

Or is going to that cafe a mistake? Is there somewhere else on the block that beats the curry out of that place?

Lastly, apologies if this has already been covered, but with the recent redesign the search function has taken a temporary step backward (can't sort by date, no highlighting of relevant terms) and it was hard to turn anything up.


-Peter (visiting from the Outer Boroughs boards)

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  1. I think the 'upstairs' may be too limited a selection to turn into a dinner. Try Rice at the corner. Have only been there for breakfast but I suspect it's fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: serious

      I agree - I've gone up there on buying trips and it doesn't seem like a place conducive to a "real" meal.

    2. they make a killer (very heavy, very smelly) mujaddara sandwich. I haven't tried anything else there but what I really loved about it was that while i was eating I got to eavesdrop on these two cute older men who worked there enthusiastically trading recipes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: melon

        Mujadara! Most definitely. But lunch, not dinner.

      2. I had lunch at the cafe once. It was tasty and hearty, but serious's suggestion is a good one - Rice is really good. I recommend the black Thai rice with edamame, topped with chicken satay. The Ratatouille is great too.

        1. As people have indicated, the upstairs area of Kalustyan's is not really a cafe. There are only two tiny tables, so it's basically a take-out situation. Certainly not an option for a group dining experience.

          I haven't been back to Rice since shortly after they opened. While that experience was fine, I've heard that things have recently gone downhill.

          You might want to consider Copper Chimney, on 28th St., b/t Lex & Park Av. S. Good food and nice atmospherics.


          I haven't been to Saravaanas, but it has gotten much praise on this board. The cuisine is Southern Indian vegetarian. It's on the *northeast* corner of Lex & 26th St. (Note: Do not confuse it with the Saravana Bhavan across the street. They are *not* related.)


          1 Reply
          1. Wow. I love Chowhound -- so many answers so fast!

            Ok, so upstairs Kalustyan's may still work. Maybe only a few of us will go to dinenr before hand or maybe we'll get takeout.

            Thanks for the suggestion, b've been to Rice plenty in DUMBO and NoLiTa. It's fine but we thought Indian would be fun. So what about other Indian choices on the block? Not fancy, just yummy.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Peter

              Not sure when you are thinking of heading over there but I think Kalustyan's closes at 8pm. If you get there in time, definitely get the mujadarrah sandwich/platter. I prefer the platter and like to get my own pita/lavash since the ones they use aren't very good.

              If you are looking for a sitdown restaurant, I definitely recommend Saravaanas. Great south Indian. Note, it is vegetarian only. I really like the onion and chili utthappa and the thali.

              1. re: Peter

                do saravanaas, that place is great

              2. I liked Curry Leaf a lot when I ate there a few years ago, but I haven't been back since.

                1. i love getting a platter at the counter in kalyustans. its way small and not a place for a dinner group, but def go on your own or with one other person tops for lunch.

                  1. I live right on 27th and Lex so of course I am in this area frequently ;) I would steer away from the cafe above Kalutsyans for dinner. You could go for lunch but I really would not consider this a place for dinner, even for a casual meal. I second the Copper Chimney suggestion and also have had great meals at Curry Leaf. If you want vegetarian, many hounds love Pongal as well.

                    1. The mujadara sandwich is positively sensational and can easily satisfy 2 people. Be sure to pick up some baba ganoush downstairs and their small very puffy pita breads. Equally terrific!

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: kodothedrum

                        all I hear about is this sandwich; anything else good for takeout? I think I've had that lentil filling before in a container; what else is in the sandwich? any other good platters?

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          They put the (very oniony, in a good way) mujadara in a pita along with lettuce, tomatoes, tahini and hot sauce. I think the hot sauce is key, it provides a sharp flavor contrast to the rich mujadara and tahini. For takeout it goes in a tin along with pickled vegetables and olives- quite the deal at $5.

                          The eggplant (ratatouille, I think) is also very good.

                          1. re: TongoRad

                            Just stopped by for lunch today upstairs at Kalustyans to try the mujaddara sandwich. DELICIOUS! All that spice and goodness for 5 bucks! I feel like I'm cheating them.

                            Just be warned, it's a beast of a sandwich. I am still in a food coma but pleasantly dreaming of tasty lentils.

                            1. re: skeetereats

                              Just FYI, you can buy the mujaddarah for even less in the refrigerators in back downstairs.

                              1. re: a_and_w

                                You can do the same upstairs. Ask for a small container rather than a sandwich or a platter.

                                1. re: ESNY

                                  I never knew that, but it makes sense since I used to buy the grape leaves that way -- they tasted fresher than the prepackaged ones. Is the mujaddarah the same price as the containers downstairs?

                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                    Don't know. I've never bought the prepackaged containers and off hand don't recall how much the container upstairs are.

                          2. re: bigjeff

                            Samosas and grape leaves are excellent. I also like the falafel, though they are not your standard falafel balls -- these are quite a bit denser. They also have a some nice feta cheeses and many different kinds of olives.

                        2. I went to Saravanaas for the first time last night. YES!
                          I ordered the South Indian Thali which was great and my brother ordered the mixed vegetable dosa which was really great. I actually popped into Kalustyan's afterward to see if they had Basan Ladoos--it was closing and they didn't. But Saravanaas was SO fantastic. I had the priviledge to travel around India in 2001 and last night's dinner really brought me back to my time in the south. I liked it much better than Pongol and Chennai Garden and Tiffin Wallah. (And actually, I also happened to eat lunch at Jackson Diner for the first time this past Sat and the food at Saravanaas blew it out of the water--though Jackson Heights had some killer Besan Ladoos at some little hole in the wall sweet place--and I wasn't able to find any in Curry Hill last night).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: abud

                            been out to jheights for dosai? I've had dosa diner/place a coupla times, but I keep hearing that rajhbog around the corner is better (and cheaper).