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Jul 29, 2009 02:03 PM

Best Restaurants on Curry Row?

My wife and I just moved to the stretch of Lexington Ave. between 30th and 23rd St. Obviously, there are a LOT of options for Indian cuisine in the neighborhood...too many in fact. We'd like to narrow down our "favorites" list without having to sample every single one of them in the process, as that would be incredibly time consuming, not to mention costly.

We'd appreciate any recommendations that you've got, and any "avoid-at-all-cost" warnings as well. Extra points for specificity (eg. regional cuisine standouts, takeout rec's, etc.).

(and I know there are threds on this topic out there, but most are antiquated...I'm looking for fresh intel...)

Thanks all!

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  1. if you want to take one for the team and check out a newcomer to gather some "fresh intel" for all CHers, there's a North Indian kebab place that just opened this week on Lex at 27th...

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      so leery of that place, just because its connected to kebab factory. there is a lot of PR around this joint tho all over the nyc area blogs and sites. would love to hear an honest review of the place (or I might just check it out myself).

    2. There's a ton posted on here on these restaurants, but search "curry hill" rather than "curry row". The quick version, most of the restaurants specialize in south indian cuisine, Tiffin Wallah, Saravanaas, Chennai Garden and Dhaba are the cream of the crop. My gf and I's favorite is Tiffin Wallah, although others prefer Saravanaas. And Kalustyan's is an absolutely excellent market. Regarding the new kebab place mentioned by goodhealthgourmet, its called Bhatti, and as mentioned in a different post we got delivery from it the other day and liked it, but based on only one meal we preferred Tiffin Wallah. But the specialization is obviously different.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brettnyc

        recently updated thread:

        and, not so recently updated (since march) with a focus on takeout:

      2. It's more commonly called "Curry *Hill*."

        I would recommend the recently opened Dhaba, b/t 27th & 28th.

        Of course, there's Kalustyan's, b/t 28th & 29th, which stocks a super-vast array of items. Prepared foods are upstairs. The only thing I've tried is the very good mujaddarah.

        There are a couple of non-Indian restaurants that I think are worth your while.

        La Petite Auberge, a few doors north of Dhaba, was there long before any of the Indian and Pakistani restaurants. Excellent French bistro cuisine served in a charming space that resembles a little country inn.

        Penelope, on the corner of 30th, offers an eclectic menu of tasty food in a small space with kitchy decor.

        Also, Baoguette, the banh mi shop, is located between 25th & 26th.

        7 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          Kalustyans' sells a bunch of pre made side dishes (hummus, eggplant and chick pea salads, mujadra, etc) in the back, in a refrigerated section. Those are pretty good, but not as good as some other spots that specialize in each of those dishes. Yet, if you are in a rush, go for those. For spices, etc., they can barely be beat. Excellent dried fruit, nuts, etc. too. For more standard items, like mustards, coconut milk, some vinegars, there prices are only Ok.

          Tiffin Wallah is about the best lunch deal in the city.

          For non Indian try Les Halles, on 27th and Park. Their steak frites are still very good, must be ordered medium rare, and their onion soup and escargot are also very good. They have a great brunch for about $19 per person on the weekends.

          1. re: comiendosiempre

            I think RGR was referring not to the fridge at Kalustyan's but the cafe upstairs.

            1. re: kathryn

              That's correct. I was referring to the freshly-prepared foods, including the mujaddarah, which are found upstairs. It's really more of a take-out set-up since there are only two small tables.

              1. re: RGR

                The food served upstairs, among the teas and other items, is the same food they serve in take out plastic containers downstairs, in the refrigerated section.

                While the falafel is pretty good upstairs, most of the rest of the items are not as good as comparable dishes at other spots in the neighborhood or elsewhere. Kalustyan's simply isn't a "restaurant" so to speak. We go there all the time, and have found they are the best in splices and similar, less good for other items.

                And yes, their mujadrah is pretty good, but its on the dry side and can use more fried onions . . .

                1. re: comiendosiempre

                  You're a tough critic of that mujadara! Whose do you like better? I'd really like to know, and go there!

          2. re: RGR

            RGR covered the best eats in the hood. My fave is Tiffin Wallah for their dosa. Resto used to be good but went downhill and I haven't been back although they have a huge beer selection and I miss their liege waffles.

            1. re: windycity

              FYI the chef at Resto left to cook at Irving Mill, but he just left to join Allen and Delancey.

          3. Dhaba (thanks Jungmann, I'm eternally grateful for this fabulous Indian restaurant rec)
            Kalustyan's (for groceries, specialty items)


            1. Dhaba is a good choice for non-veg and certain chaat (you're welcome LeahBaila, btw). I am not a fan of their tandoori, but their goat, murgh makhani and biryanis are very good.

              For tandoori I much prefer the Pakistani restaurants Lahore or Haandi. They can be spotty, but Lahore also has very good kheema samosas, while Haandi has surprisingly good biryani in addition to the kebabs I buy there. The Pakistani butcher just north of Kalustyan's also makes his own mithai and very good papri.

              For Indian veg, Tiffin Wallah is my first choice. I love their utthapam, sambar and palak. But if I am looking to do a large Southern Indian meal, I still like Saravanaas over Pongal for the richness of their aloo and dosas. Pongal is also good, but if you are looking for thali, you are better off at Chennai Garden.

              I am not a terribly big fan of Kalustyan's. I only go there when I am too lazy to explore the boroughs for ingredients I need/want. Their prepared food lacks a certain zip when I've had it. I'm not certain if it's missing garlic or citrus or what. For Indian groceries, I more often go to the place on 27th right next to the taco shop. They have good-looking karela and eggplant as well as Sukhadia's sweets. On the other side of Lexington and 28th, there is a shop that specializes in paan.

              I am still looking for a place with good paratha kababs. Roomali didn't cut it. Curry in a Hurry also is just not that good. If I am in a huge hurry, I would much rather stop in at Haandi or Lahore and enjoy my takeaway.

              10 Replies
              1. re: JungMann

                Thank you for posting that info. It is very helpful, even to those who are familiar with the area. I will have to try Dhaba.

                1. re: JungMann

                  Yeah I agree with what comiendo said, I'm in curry hill pretty frequently but this gives me some new ideas. Looking forward to trying haandi's biryani in particular.

                  Regarding Kalustyan's, I actually think its best virtue is not for finding ingredients one has in mind and is looking for, but for discovering ingredients one has never even thought to seek out/variations on ingredients one didn't know existed. The array of what they have is pretty incredible and can provide for interesting discoveries. For more straight ahead spice shopping for example though, I usually go to Penzeys.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    BTW, got some biryani from Haandi last night and agree that it is surprisingly good. This was my first Haandi experience and am looking forward to more of their biryani soon.

                    1. re: brettnyc

                      Glad to hear we came to the same conclusion on Haandi's chicken biryani (or were you lucky enough to have beef or mutton)? You'll have to let us know if you come across any other surprises.

                      1. re: JungMann

                        Yes it was indeed the chicken biryani. Will certainly post about follow up Haandi experiences per any additional chow-worthy food there! One thing I've heard but have not yet been myself, is that Haandi can be a fun scene for late-ish evening tea.

                        1. re: brettnyc

                          What time is late-ish? I have been there for tea around 4 or 6 and I have been there for munchies post-midnight. Both situations were as dour as a Waziristan widow.

                          1. re: JungMann

                            Interesting. Like I said I haven't been for tea yet(at any time), and also I don't know the person who mentioned this very well. I think she was talking about like 10pm-ish. I'll pop by there sometime around 10 to check it out. I don't think the woman who mentioned this is a regular there, so either it all depends on the timing, or she happened upon an unusual night there. But I'll note the dourness at the other times you mentioned!

                          2. re: brettnyc

                            what's the definition of fun? thanks all on this biryani tip; will check it out.

                            1. re: bigjeff

                              I think the definition of fun per the late evening Haandi tea was relatively bustling, talkative, friendly, lively. I'll check this out to see if its an on-going thing, or if the woman I know who mentioned this lucked out when she went, maybe there were a couple of large outgoing groups there by chance.

                            2. re: brettnyc

                              I think Haandi does better biryani than that biryani place on Bleecker that got some hype when it opened.