All-you-can-eat plates of chicken tikka and aloo gobi might be a lunchtime favorite, but when it comes to appreciating the full spectrum of Indian cookery the buffet is only the beginning. Here are some other authentic options for exploring the regional flavors of this bright cuisine.
Chef Rakesh Ramola’s sleek Midtown Village restaurant forgoes the buffet in flavor of tasting menus, lunchtime thalis, rarely seen takes on curries (like moilee, a coconut-scented dish with lump crab, shrimp and curry leaf with lemon-cashew rice) and an Indian-accented cheeseboard (pictured above).
205 S. 13th St.; 215-545-4633
Fishtown’s favorite BYO pleases with a menu that caters to vegetarians, vegans and omnivores — whether dining in, taking out or ordering delivery. The menu lines up well-executed classics like butter chicken and okra masala alongside tandoor-fired meats (pictured below) and aromatic biriyanis.
250 E. Girard Ave.; 215-426-2277
Wraps get an Indian-inspired makeover at this Rittenhouse lunchtime favorite. Chewy paratha bread is rolled around fillings like lamb kebabs, paneer and chana masala with sides of pickles and chutneys to spice things up.
2004 Chestnut St.; 267-639-9405
Chaat and Chai
This vibrant South Philly newcomer serves a brief and bright menu of reimagined Indian dishes with home-cooked flair. Curry bowls of hot lamb vindaloo and sweet and savory butternut squash are miles away from standard buffet fare.
1532 Snyder Ave.; 215-271-1253
Desi Chaat House
A menu full of Indian street food made this West Philadelphia corner into one of the most fascinating snack stops for puffed rice, crackers and fried noodles topped with chickpeas, potatoes and a rainbow of sauces (ranging from herb-flecked yogurts to sweet, spicy and sour chutneys; pictured above).
501 S. 42nd St.; 215-386-1999
Tucked away in the back of a University City market, this casual, family-run Punjabi joint has been winning high marks for its lighter takes on Northern Indian dishes, excelling in both veg-friendly fare and more adventurous plates like goat curry.
4211 Chestnut St.; 215-387-5250