Alhamra - the Mission
New 'hound here. Just moved from the East Coast and will be eating my way through the Mission, Portero Hill and South Beach (to start...).
I tried Alhamra last night. It is located close to the corner of 16th and Mission in the Mission. I am somewhat new to Indian/Pakistani food. My exposure is limited to Naan N' Curry in the Inner Sunset and all the lunch buffets in Cambridge, MA.
Sorry, can't compare to Pakwan (yet).
Alhamra is BYOB. This made their reasonably priced food even better priced.
Their naan and rice were fine; not bad, not excellent. In the large group I went with, 2 dishes stood out to me. First, the lamb saag was delicious. The first thing I noticed was that they gave a fairly generous portion of lamb. Beyond this, it was delicious. I will order this again without a doubt. The second dish that stood out was their eggplant dish.
The major let down was the chicken tikka masala. On its own, the tandoori chicken looked great (I didn't try this). In the chicken tikka masala dish, the chicken was fine. But the tikka masala sauce was lacking. I would not order this again.
In the future, I plan to order delivery from this restaurant. Most definitely the lamb saag, eggplant and naan. I'll have to find one more (to meet the $15 minimum and my significant other's appetite). Perhaps the tandoori chicken.
Sadly, the restaurant was very empty during the dinner rush. By no means was the food excellent or brilliant, but for the price point it seemed spot on.
Pakwan is next!
>By no means was the food excellent or brilliant,
>but for the price point it seemed spot on.
it sounds like you are an astute consumer of the indian restaurant scene here.
when asked about indian restaurants [i'm indian, so while i'm not an expert on food,
i do get asked about this a bunch] i say a couple of things:
1. there are about 3 price bands:
--super cheep: $5-7 entrees ... no much in the decor dept ...
naan&curry, pakwan, shalimar, and the pack leader probably lahore karahi [at least
in terms of quantity of meat], and maybe a few places in the haight ... rotee, naan&chutney
often quiet good food, especially if you learn what is good at different place ... as you
are clearly aware. some places have good kabobs, others good chutneys, other good
CTM, etc. the downside of these places are so-so quality control [i dont mean that in the
sanitary sense, but occasionally they will screw something up because they have cooked
it in mass quantities]. usually these are the best places to chat with the staff about cooking
or cricket or whatever. open latest. oh darbar on polk s also quite good in this category.
--medium price $8-10 entrees ... you start getting into the cloth napkins here.
they might have wine etc. usually they have the same set of dishes as the cheep
places and the quality control is usually a bit tighter, but the taste of the food isnt
necessarily that much better. a lot of these were the old school places and i think
the ones that werent very good faced a lot of price pressure as the Category 1
places emerged. however, there some that might be worth the few extra dollars ...
ajanta, mehfil, aslam rasoi.
--the third cateory are pricier places that are trying to transcend the "ethnic restaurant"
category and trying to become desination places [sort of like what Slanted Door started
for VN places.]. in terms of price there is a bit of a long tail, and it's hard to make
generalizations about these places ... sui generis and all that [note: the new breed
are different from gaylord, which was simply an abomination], but have the stuff you'ld
expect at "real restuarnts" ... reservations, a bar etc. they include DOSA [in the mission],
junoon, mantra etc.
2. i think you will not find a best place across the board in the cheep category:
--there are a large number of places here that just dont "get" chicken tikka
masala ... they try to make an indian dish out of it and screw it up ... it is a
cognitive failure, not an execution or effort failure.
--while there is a large overlap in the meus of the cheep places, there are
some specialized dishes like nihari that everybody doesnt make.
--so basically you have to shop around and figure what you like at different
places ... often it will turn on something like "i cant get the kababs at place X
because the one of the chutneys is horrible"
based on a couple of your comments, i recommend you analyze:
--LAHORE KARAHI BUTTER CHICKEN (the kheer (indian dessert) is also
a good deal at $2. it was screwed up about 1 time in 10). the only think i have
had here that was actualyl bad, was ironically the most expensive thing i've
ordered: the mixed tandoor grill ... not good guddu.
--maybe various dishes at DARBAR
on a lark you might try the indian pizza at zante in the lower [sic] mission.
zante used to be in the al hamara space.
(this isnt a substitution for an indian meal, but since you're in the mission area
and ostensibly a chowhound ...)
>Sadly, the restaurant was very empty during the dinner rush.
i think they do a lot of delivery/takout.
>Naan N' Curry in the Inner Sunset
i havent been to N-n-C in a few months but for quite some time
the NC/tandoorloin > NC/sunset,NC/northbeach >> NC/telegraph ave [which was
consistently horrible]. last time i was at the new 24hr NC near union squre it wasnt
that good, but it was also around 2am.
Welcome to Chowhound. Great report.
Here's the most recent report on Alhamra I could find
Looking forward to your Pakwan report. Haven't seen much about them lately on the board.
BTW, if you ever crave East Coast seafood, there's North Breach Lobster Shack and Woodhouse Fish. I grew up in CT and went to school in MA.