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great indian food (dinner) in manhattan

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this is a topic that gets discussed with some frequency on here, but the answers seem to vary and change somewhat often, so i figured i'd ask.

my girlfriend and i are looking for a great indian restaurant in manhattan. either north or south (or both!) is fine. we are more into traditional cuisine than experimentation or fusion. it doesn't have to be cheap, but we don't really care about atmosphere or service. doesn't have to be fancy at all.

i've looked around on the boards but most of the places people recommend most often--devi, tabla, etc--seem a little too innovative/funky/"inspired". we are kind of looking for out-of-this-world comfort food--really, really, really good chana masala, samosas, etc (we are vegetarians, for the record, but we don't need a lot of options--just a couple of really good dishes will suffice).

chola and dawat both seem like possibilities, but i'd really like to hear people's input/suggestions.

(semi-related tip for brooklyn hounds: lately we've been doing take-out from kinara in park slope when we're craving indian, since the food is reliably decent and the take-out is a great deal - app, entree, rice + naan for $12.)

EDIT: thanks so much for the suggestions so far - just to clarify, we are looking for a place to eat dinner.

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  1. A query about "Is any of the 'Indian' food served in US restaurants actually authentic Indian food? " has been split to the General Topics board:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/488491

    1. For just an everyday lunch, my friend and I are big fans of Minar on the West Side. The clientele is largely Indian with a mixed bag of both vegetarian and omnivore fare.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JungMann

        another lunch option on the other side of town, a block or two from the other Minar location on West 31st, is Famous Curry & Kebab, at 15 East 31st Street. I know the name is gimmicky, but their prices are great ($6 for 3 veggies over rice or $7 for 1 meat + 2 veggies over rice) and their daily-changing selection is very good. they have this fortified, lightly spiced rice+potato mash available instead of regular white rice, and I've actually had some quite spicy food which is rare in the area's pakistani/bangla restaurants; had a very nice pumpkin dish there, a great dish with whole brown chickpeas, a nice okra dish with just the right amount of mushiness and nice dhal. they also have a fish curry which is excellent. I haven't tried any of their tandoori fare or any of the meat curries, but it all looked a cut above the typical. the look is typical cab-stand decor but, very good food and very nice guys working t here too.

        1. re: bigjeff

          I started working in the nabe about a month ago, and I never would've found Curry and Kebab without your rec, bigjeff, so thanks. I've tried a bunch of places (surprisingly- few, if any, of them have been very impressive, considering the neighborhood) and so far this is the best I've tried. On the negative side the beef cubes in the curry were a bit on the dry side, but the veggie dishes have all been quite good.

          1. re: TongoRad

            glad to hear it; I wouldn't go so far as to call it a gem but definitely definitely fresher, spicier and great prices. try their whole fish sometime, bathed in a delicious curry. I myself just started working in the area a few months ago; a new hood is always fun, but I've reverted to brown-baggin' it after too many ktown lunches. nice streetmeat cart at 28th and madison tho.

            1. re: bigjeff

              <<nice streetmeat cart at 28th and madison tho.>>
              Definitely- been there multiple times, usually for the falafel. I like that it's on flatbread pita instead of pocket pita, and that they'll put the fries on the sandwich. I find that if I can get a good cheap ($3-4) lunch a couple of days a week, then it sort of supplements the $8+ ones.

              I've also had my eye on a kati roll place on Lexington near 27th that was closed for the past few weeks but now seems to have reopened as a Kebab King, or something ike that. TamilNadu Bhavan across the street has been pretty reliable as a sit-down thali lunch place. The food is good and plentiful, not great, but a nice value in the $6-7 range.

          1. I have been to Chola a bunch. It is solid, not mind blowing. Not sure any Indian is these days. Dawat was very good 8 years ago. I would skip it now. Not even sure they are open, anymore. There are MANY Indian restaurants on 58th St there and one or two were closed at some point(not Chola, ever).
            I would like to try Devi, looks worth it and if it is as good as the best of its reviews, then definitely. Most places do not live up to the billing. Still, I am interested.
            Tabla was excellent, again, many years ago.
            I cannot tell you about all the places in Curry Hill or down by E 6th St, though I have been to one of the latter, supposedly better ones and was not impressed at all.
            Not saying there is nothing better or great but Chola should do you solid for a sit down dinner and will not break the bank(for Manhattan, anyway).
            Note, Tamarind is somewhere between Chola and Devi in the "creative" dept of Indian.
            It is quite a bit more than Chola though and I was not impressed last time I was there.
            It was much better when it first opened.
            Be wary of the UWS, I will leave it at that before I get flamed too much.

            Good luck and I hope you have a good meal.

            5 Replies
            1. re: gambit50

              Dawat is still open. I actually like it, but also want to try Chola. I agree with your comments about Tamarind and Devi, though I've not been to Devi since it reopened to what I recall as being mixed reviews on this board.

              1. re: gambit50

                I generally enjoyed Devi, but I wouldn't call it "comfort food" food for AmerDesis. I wouldn't call Devi fusion, necessarily, but it is certainly very elevated above what one finds at home.

                1. re: gambit50

                  "I cannot tell you about all the places in Curry Hill or down by E 6th St, though I have been to one of the latter, supposedly better ones and was not impressed at all."

                  Which one?

                  1. re: Pan

                    Haveli, that was it. Awhile ago.
                    Had the most kudos back then.
                    Was definitely not worth the trip, though we had a memorable instance
                    that is still an inside joke.

                    1. re: gambit50

                      Well, definitely by far not the worst, but I never really saw why anyone would make a big deal about the place. I haven't been there in years, either.