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When Your Assets Decline, where do you still Dine?

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I'd been meaning for some time to start a thread on "where are you a regular." Like in Cheers: where everybody knows your name. But with my face glued to CNBC for the past few weeks I thought this title more appropriate. I missed out on a Smith and Wollensky wine dinner this week, and Paradigm (both $100 dinners), largely due to finances and depression. This has led me to conclude that economic conditions are a true test of restaurant loyalty. So no matter how bad your retirement accounts look, where will you continue to eat?

I'm going to give long-overdue kudos to the only place in SoFla where I can call myself a "regular": INDIA HOUSE (Plantation, Broward County)

I'm have no Indian ancestry, I have no financial or other interest in the restaurant, and I don't even live near it (I'm in Aventura), and yet every 2-3 weeks I HAVE to get my weekend brunch fix. It's worth the trek (even with $4 gas) for 3 reasons: (a) It's casual enough that you can come as you are and bring kids and not even think about it (we usually come at 11:30 when everything has just been put out and we basically have the place to ourselves), (b) At about $13, it is simply the best deal I've ever encountered, and (c) I have grown to love the consistent offerings as if they were the comfort food I grew up with. It is just insanely good, and no matter how much I lose in the market, I won't stop going!

I found this place almost 5 years ago through Zagat when it was on Commercial Blvd. East of 95. 2 years ago it moved to the Best Western hotel on University near Sunrise. I've never ordered a la carte (or been for dinner), but I've been for the buffet lunch both on a weekday (more limited; less expensive) and on the weekend, which is the time when my family are "regulars".

The weekend Lunch consistently includes:
1-2 Rice dishes (Basmati, plus one other - lemon rice, or more often a biryani);
A Paneer (most often sag paneer - spinach, but it varies)
2 other vegetarian options (chana masala is a common one, as is an eggplant stew I love)
A chicken stew (most commonly chicken masala 8 times out of 10)
A goat stew
Tandoori chicken
A stir fry vegetable and/or chicken
2 dessert options: honey balls are a mainstay, with the other option rotating between rice pudding, and rasmali - which involves a cottage cheese 'ravioli' in rosewater)

There are many other chutneys and yogurt sides too numerous to list, and on the weekend they have a 'chat bar' where appetizer plates of all kinds of stuff I could never name are combined in a mix of spicy, savory, creamy and minty.

I've been to Royal India, Heelsha, and House of India on 163rd, all of which are way closer, but it's this place that keeps me coming back time and again. I eat enough chicken masala alone to make up the admission price, and I never need or want dinner when I've had lunch there.

So this is my recession pick. What's yours?

India House:
1711 N University Dr
Plantation, FL 33322 (Map)
(954) 565-5701

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  1. pollo campero
    http://www.pollocampero.com/menu.php

    3 Replies
    1. re: ankimo

      so that place is good? I keep seeing it packed to the rafters.

      1. re: Icantread

        while it's novel since it's a new location in miami, i was surprised to find the grilled 1/4 dark chicken to actually taste pretty good -- i.e. seasoned well all the way through (compared to others in its class like pollo tropical, boston market, etc.)

        1. re: ankimo

          Is that the chicken chain that originated in Guatemala? I remember when one opened in Dallas a few years ago--the lines wrapped around the block. After waiting in line over a half hour, I learned what the hype was about--it's GOOD!

    2. I like to eat at Golden Corral on Commercial off University in Tamarac, you can get a senior discount and if you have the Primecard you can get even more off. I also like to eat at the Bagel Tree restaurant on Oakland Pk. Blvd. between University & Inverrary Blvd. in Lauderhill area. It has the best tuna fish mini platter, also seafood salad platter, great corned beef, almost anything they serve is the tops!

      1. Destin-Ft. Walton Beach here

        We haven't cut back on frequency, but between trying to reduce spending and mister mouse trying to reduce the waistline, we've cut back on volume. So no more spring rolls at Jasmine Thai near Publix. (Tasty food that's just across the Mid-bay bridge from home) and we've gone from splitting a bowl of gumbo and getting sandwiches to getting two bowls of gumbo and splitting one sandwich at Kenny D's. We realized that the reason why we kept going back there anyways was because we loved the gumbo- the sandwiches are just pretty average.

        1. If dinner gets expensive, one can always eat more breakfasts. :) But if I had to pick a favorite cheap eat, it would be at the Olympia Flame in Deerfield Beach! A greek diner with classic diner fare- fresh, well-prepared with plenty of friendly staff. :) I'm a glutton when it comes to good diner food. :)

          1. Saigon Cuisine in Margate. Their food is amazing and most entrees are under $10.

            1. Red Light is regular rotation for us now, with almost all small dishes under $10 and pretty much no dish over about $18.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Frodnesor

                1/2 lobster is $20, but it's worth it.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  I believe Hiro's is also in regular rotation for you, Frod, and it bears repeating here (the kind of place where you could become recognized as a regular, and a good variety of good-priced, high quality food).

                  1. re: non sequitur

                    If you mean Hiro's Yakko-San, you're right on all fronts. We can also split a whole roasted chicken Peruvian style from Edy's between Mrs. F and myself for under $10 a head, with a couple sides. Hong Kong Noodles (in the old Jumbo spot on 163rd St.) also has good cheap dim sum. BBQ Beach (North Miami location) had a great take-out deal for a whole smoked chicken for something like $9 plus a couple of sides at only a few bucks each.

                2. Pancho's Backyard - it's close, good, casual and very inexpensive.

                  1. We discovered Spikey Ty in Coral Springs a few months back and we are now weekly regulars! It is on the corner of Wiles and Coral Ridge and looks like a take-out place but does have some seating inside as well. The prices are very reasonable and the food is excellent. They specialize in both Japanese and Thai. My husband's favorite is the Cashew Chicken and my kids love the sushi (they have very mature taste!) and the Age Tofu! I am a vegetarian and my standby is the pad thai with tofu. They make it without fish sauce and it is delicious! Their family also has a restaurant in Weston - Miyoko Sushi which has the best ginger dressing and happily they brought the recipe to this location!

                    1. Red Light as Frodnesor mentioned gives you great quality for a small price. However, you do need to pay $5 to valet now, but he does wear a sticker saying Valet (:

                      Cheen Huaye is a creative Mexican restaurant on 154th & Biscayne & they have this burrita dish for $8 which is very tasty, chef Marco knows what he is doing, he comes from Merida.

                      Christine's Roti Shop on 16721 NE 6th Ave has big roti portions for under $10. Bahamian Pot on 1413 NW 54th St also serves authentic Caribbean food.

                      Chez Rosie on 5961 NW 2nd Ave has great Haitian food, a bit greasy, but their butterfly shrimp and rice n beans dish is yummy & filling.

                      I don't like recommending chains, but Pasha's has several locations & you can get decent food under $10.

                      Finally, you can get some great sandwiches at Laurenzo's on 163rd & W Dixie. If you focus on the many ethnic eateries South Florida has to offer you can definitely do well within a budget. Trust me, I eat out every meal. Happy eating!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Foodfroggy

                        We stopped in to Hong Kong Noodle in the old Jumbo location on 163rd Street over the weekend and enjoyed a wonderful bowl of soup. For $5.25 we were served a huge bowl of wonton soup with noodles and the sweetest BBQ roast pork I have ever had.. The wontons are really dim sum, pork and shrimp, and great! The soup was very tasty and it was loaded with noodles. This was enough for us and we will return for more.They have cleaned up the restaurant, and the service was effecient and friendly.

                      2. We have definitely not reduced the number of times we go out to eat. We have however scaled back on going to upper scale places quite as often. In DeLand, we have Sweet Melissa's, Bellini's Deli, Mainstreet Grille, Mi Mexico, as well as the chains like Chli's, Beef O' Brady's. Instead of buying a bottle of wine, we'll just get a glass each. And we usually cut out the appetizer and dessert, which luckily helps with our waistlines, as well.