Indian Fast Casual Chain Restaurants – It’s What’s Next!

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I’ve always been a big fan of Indian food and recently read about the popularity of fast casual Indian places (a la Chipotle). A quick google search brought up a  NYT article on the many global Indian restaurant chains in Manhattan – I had no idea – but I corralled a few friends and we checked out the four that sounded most promising:  Saravana Bhavan, Kailash Parbat, Moti Mahal Delux and Ajappar.  I had also wanted to check out Baluchi’s for their famous Pav Bhaji sandwich but the weather this week has been impossible.

(Note: My curiosity was initially piqued by a new Indian fast casual place in Cleveland (Choolaah Indian BBQ) that was being compared to Chipotle. An interview with the founders indicated they planned to develop it into a worldwide brand.)

My reviews of all the restaurants we checked out, including the absolute hands-down winner, below the break.

THE WINNER: Saravana Bhavan (81 Lexington Avenue at 26th Street – and also on the UWS)

They’re renowned for their dosas which are amazing.  Saravana is clean, bright and sunny and at lunch filled with many happy, regular customers.  Will definitely come back here.

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Corner of 26th and Lexington

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The dosas are PHENOMENAL

There’s also a somewhat scandalous murder story involving the founder. Link here for all the salacious details. The only bad thing about Saravana is its website – very old-fashioned and not easy to navigate.

Also-Rans:

Moti Mahal Delux (1149 1st Ave @63rd st) – good lunch but turned off by their odd rule of not letting you take your leftovers with you (and there were lots). Makes you wonder about the waste or more horrifying, whether they serve your leftovers to other guests??

Kailash Parbat (99 Lexington @27th) – we didn’t end up having dinner here because they don’t have a liquor license and on a Friday nite we wanted a glass of wine. They’re famous primarily for vegetarian chaat (street snacks) so I doubt I will be back.

Anjappar (116 Lex at 28th) – considered one of the most authentic outposts of Indian chains. But it’s very rundown looking.  Service was great and food was good but I think you eat with your eyes as much as you do with all other senses and this place looked dumpy to me.

 

 

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