When I told my friends that I had just had the best meal of my month in a beat up 50s diner down Chapel Street they were expecting a burger and fries, not tandoori chicken and samosas. Their reactions to the revelation weren’t too enthusiastic. Who can blame them? The last major time the style of one of America’s capitalist classics fused with Indian culture we had the birth of Bollywood.
But Tandoor is no sari-wearing belly-dancing melodramatic musical spectacular. In fact, it’s pretty unassuming (read: a little run down), though certainly unorthodox. Sure, the miniature Hindu paintings hanging under neon signs on the aluminum walls make for a slightly jarring combination, but when it comes to food, Tandoor makes no compromises. Once you start slipping into that curry-coma all the little design quirks start to look more and more endearing. Think bottle of wine and best friend: by glass number two the whole thing starts to seem a lot more feasible.
Like the aforementioned situation, Tandoor has some complicating factors. These include a slight hike for those not in Pierson or Dport (1226 Chapel Street, past the intersection of Park) and the potential for uncomfortably extreme fullness. But combine these with the novelty of the cuisine/location and the whole expedition becomes a pretty memorable adventure — and a rewarding one. Culinary highlights are the saag paneer and garlic naan, and the extensive menu offers something for everyone in spiciness levels ranging from mild to very very hot.
If you can’t stand the interior design or are just too lazy to move, Tandoor offers free delivery until closing at 10:30. Rumor has it that there is a cheap all-you-can-eat weekend lunch buffet too, though I do not have confirmation on this one. Normal prices are not unreasonable, but if you come to feast (which you should) expect to spend at least $15.
In a city with some great Indian options, Tandoor offers a delicious alternative with a lot of character. Save Thali for the parents and some place without florescent lighting for your significant other, but bring your funkiest, hungriest friends to the one and only Indian diner.