Location – 2548 W. Devon (Devon and Maplewood)
In one word – Chutneys
Food – You’ll get South Indian fare (vegetarian). The speciality of South Indian cuisine is the masala dosa (a crepe of sorts with seasoned potatoes). If you want to go with my favorite, get the paper masala dosa, even thinner and crispier. Beware, dosas are giant here. While I didn’t think that the dosas were that amazing (compared to its neighbor, Udapi Palace), the chutneys were notable. You are offered tamarind, mint and coconut chutneys in addition to sambar. All seemed fresh and were flavorful. We also ordered the appetizer sampler. I was not impressed by their offering of vadas (fried veggies) and samosas (potatoes in fried dough).
Drink – It’s BYOB. But often I like to order a mango lassi (thin mango milk shake). It compliments a paper masala dosa perfectly.
Service – This was a problem here. Many of the glasses and silverware weren’t clean. Then, we ordered a second appetizer platter, and the waiter made it seem like it was a big hassle. I’m sorry we’re ordering more food, which equals more money for your restaurant. My apologies.
Occasion – It’s pretty casual here. We saw dates and groups of friends dining after shopping along Devon Avenue.
Dress – You can wear pretty much anything. We came straight from work and were perfectly fine.
Cost – We each paid $11. That’s kind of amazing.
If you like, try…Udapi Palace
Location: 2543 W. Devon Ave.
In one word – Dosas
Food – When people think of Indian food, they often limit themselves to tandoori chicken or chicken tikka masala. Stretch your mind and venture into the cuisine of Southern India, which is what UP serves up well. The menu is all vegetarian. Here’s all the advice you need: You need to get a dosa; it’s like a crepe, a giant crepe. My personal favorite is the paper masala dosa. You just rip off a piece of the crepe with your hand and scoop up the amazing potato mixture on your plate. When I was little, I used to have dosa eating races with my sister. I encourage you to do the same with your friends and family. Competitive eating doesn’t have the cache it used to, let’s bring it back. Now it is slightly oily food, so if you have a sensitive stomach, slip a little Pepto in your pocket.
Drink – I recommend the mango lassi. It’s basically a mango milkshake made of yogurt. I’ve been taken to my happy place just thinking of it. And it’s BYOB with no corkage fee. You HAVE to love that.
Service – The staff is very courteous. And they don’t intrude too much, which I like.
Occasion – It’s pretty casual. Come for an early dinner or lunch with your friends.
Scene – The decor doesn’t make this place, it’s the food. You’ve got your stereotypical ornate Indian art to spice up the ambience here.
Dress – Jeans, cords – there’s no one to impress here, but don’t be a schlub.
Cost – CHEAP! $15 max.
If you liked…, try – Hema’s Kitchen, Tiffin