“They say that in New York, you’re always looking for one of three things: a job, an apartment, or a boyfriend.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City
Carrie was spot on – and no one knows it more than I do, as I happen to be in the market for at least two of those items…and they are all rather scarce. So it comes as no surprise that the arrival of the weekend is always such a relief, because I can put my exhausting searches on hold and catch up with old friends over lunch. Instead of combing through Craigslist for the perfect job or apartment (NOT boyfriend – don’t you worry!), I can focus my energy on finding the ideal lunching spot.
New York is teeming with fabulous brunch venues boasting mouth-watering food and unlimited mimosas, any of which would be perfect for a Sunday funday for a party of four to seven. However, to find a restaurant that serves a really delicious weekend lunch and has an atmosphere conducive to an intimate session of How Have You Been is a little trickier. One of my favorite places for this is the Tiffin Wallah, located in Little India (aka Curry Hill) on 28th Street and Park Avenue.
As a side note: the unofficial but perhaps more authentic Little India is in Queens’ Jackson Heights. It is an amazing neighborhood with excellent restaurants and shopping, albeit slightly less accessible for Manhattanites and some Brookyn-ites. However, my opinion of the food at the Tiffin Wallah hasn’t changed since since I first dined there: I remember thinking it was the best Indian food I’d had since I returned from my semester abroad in India, and that holds true to this day.
Although its exclusively vegetarian menu may seem unfulfilling to those of you who tend to be carnivorous at every meal, I promise you will not walk away from this restaurant feeling hungry. Specializing in South Indian dishes such as dosas and idli, while still delivering classic favorites such as samosas and pakora, the Tiffin Wallah transports you to the finest palace in India with its flavors and presentation – all without leaving the city. (Also, if you feel overwhelmed by the unfamiliar names of South Indian culinary delights, the menu conveniently provides a glossary to ensure you encounter only pleasant surprises.)
Not only does the menu have a wide array of tantalizing flavors (which can be ordered as spicy or as mild as you like), but the prices are well within any twenty-something’s budget. I last visited the Tiffin Wallah with two intentions: to catch up with my good friend I hadn’t seen in several weeks and to have a spectacular yet thrifty meal. I ended up ordering the Samosa Chaat (above) – a brilliant version of the standard samosa, smothered in a mix of tamarind, cilantro and yogurt chutneys. It was so utterly delectable, and so filling, my friend had to help me finish!
While I’m a huge fan of Indian food, my lunch partner had never dabbled in South Indian dishes. At my suggestion, she opted for the Jaipur Masala Dosa, stuffed with a spicy cheese, tomato, onion and pea filling. Because she helped me with my meal, she could only eat about half of her dosa and took the rest home for later. The entire bill came to about $15, tax and tip included. Here, you can eat like a king and pay like a pauper.
If you love Indian food, you will not be disappointed. If you’re even thinking about trying it, I highly suggest you give the Tiffin Wallah a shot. You will be pleasantly surprised!