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Clean vegetarian Indian restaurant for two

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Hello! My husband and I want to hit a vegetarian Indian restaurant in NYC, preferably below 30th Street. We eat Indian about twice a year, so we are not hard core with the cuisine. My head is spinning with all the reviews of Madras Cafe, Saravanaas, etc - what would you suggest that is clean and has a bit of ambience? I am pretty simple - good bread, some dahl, maybe a nice biranyi, and a few other basic dishes that are well executed. Thanks!

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  1. These three restaurants are clean, Indian vegetarian places with good food, below 30th St., ranked in my order of preference for the food:

    Chennai Garden
    Saravanna's
    Pongol

    I generally eat dosai, vada, iddli, and avial at S. Indian places, so food rankings are based mostly on those (+ sambar and chutneys, acompanying).

    In terms of the ambiance, I would rank Pongol first, Chennai Garden Second, and Saravanna's third. Pongol is attractively decorated in a modern-y style, with dim lighting. Chennai Garden has white tablecloths, bright lights and looks a little schlocky, frankly -- like a low brow interpretation of what a nice restaurant should look like. Saravanna's is cafeteria-like, with fluorescent lights and zero ambiance.

    1. Tiffin Wallah on 28h is great. Casual, inexpensive, BYOB. Service is friendly.

      http://www.tiffinwallah.us/

      1. There is a great Indian restaurant on 22nd and park called Tamarind. Although it is not vegetarian, there are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. It is a little more upscale than the others in the area. If you are looking for something strictly vegetarian, Vatan is always a good choice.

        3 Replies
        1. re: NYLady825

          Last I walked by, Vatan was closed for renovations. Although they had a sign up for a sister restaurant elsewhere in Manhattan, can't remember the name. The food at Saravanaas is very good although the atmosphere is lacking.

          1. re: fooodie

            The sister restaurant is called Dimple.

            1. re: shivohum

              Second Tiffin Wallah, it's delicious and cheap. The service was very good when I was there. Try the bhel puri. They serve beer now, but you can still bring a bottle of wine.