People’s Indian Restaurant

By | February 21, 2007

People’s Indian Restaurant
5147 Penn Ave
Garfield (East End), 15224
412-661-3160
M-Sun: 11am-10pm

Holy Cannoli! It is Week 9! Because it was the day of the Super-Snow, we decided to go local and pick People’s Indian, on Penn. People’s used to be the hipster-favorite about 5 years ago. Since then, the new hipster Indian scene is at Taste of India (also on Penn). I’ve been wondering about the reasons for this shift for a while. Is it because People’s went downhill? Is it just a manifestation of the hipster attention span? Maybe it is because Taste of India is that much closer to the BrilloBox, current hipster bar. We’ll eventually get to TOI to test it as well, but after eating at People’s this week I think we can safely knock out hypothesis #1. People’s was, in fact, better than I remembered it ever being before. It isn’t the best of the best in Pittsburgh, but it had a nice homey feel to it and certain dishes were really quite good. The service was top-notch, and the mood was just right. All in all, People’s surprised me, and it might you too. Read more »

Orchids – CLOSED

By | February 13, 2007

Orchids – CLOSED
4519 Centre Ave
North Oakland, 15213
412-688-8383
M-F: 11-2:30, 5-10; Sat-Sun: 11:30-3, 5-10 (buffet only at lunchtime)

Just when I thought we had a long road of sub-genius restaurants ahead of us, in Week 8 we found a surprise in the relatively brand new restaurant, Orchids. Orchids moved into the old location of India Palace (which moved Downtown), and offers a bizarre set of dishes. The menu is entirely vegetarian, with entrées from around the world. Though it has Mexican, Chinese, and Italian dishes, the focus is primarily Indian. You can tell because the burritos have rajmah inside, and the spaghetti is topped with nut balls (a la Malai Kofta). Such an international menu makes one worry about the overall quality of a restaurant (especially after last week’s dinner at Namaste India), but the food here was surprisingly nice, with some dishes from the test list rivaling the best we’ve had yet. They had an extensive Southern Indian menu, with fairly decent dosai (better than others we have had so far) and fantastic upma. Will it beat Udipi? We won’t know for a couple weeks yet, but Orchids is definitely worth going back to again and again. Read more »

Taco Loco

By | February 5, 2007

Taco Loco
2700 Jane St
South Side, PA 15203
(412) 488-8858
Tu-Th: 11-10; F&Sat: 11am-Midnight; Sun: 12-9

I think I may have mentioned Taco Loco in a previous review where I was raving about Mexico City (the restaurant), but I have been up late every night since worrying that it came off as if I didn’t think Taco Loco was worthwhile.  I hope no one got that impression, because Taco Loco is worth its weight in gold in the Pittsburgh Mexican restaurant scene.  Taco Loco and Mexico City are both taquerias, yes, but they are quite different from each other, and their hours and location make each ideal for separate reasons.  Taco Loco is a more-than-delicious alternative to the Crapcake Factories in the nearby South Side Works, and it maintains an authentic Mexican menu plus some meat alternatives for the vegetarians to enjoy.  Yep, Taco Loco has achieved ‘regular’ status in my book, and if you aren’t sure, the Enchiladas Suizas alone should convince you. Read more »

Namaste India

By | February 5, 2007

Namaste India
3101 Banksville Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
(412) 563-1901
M: 5-10; Tues-Fri: 11:30-2:30, 5-10; Sat-Sun: Noon-3, 5-10

As we get through Week 7 of the Indian Food-A-Thon, I’d like to reiterate how lucky I feel we are in Pittsburgh to have such a large number of Indian restaurants at our disposal. Unfortunately, not all of them are good, but characterizing restaurants as such is part of the purpose of our review. What we are finding so far is a three-tier split among the restaurants. It isn’t quite The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but maybe more like The Shiznit, The Aight, and The Fugly. There are some that stand out, like Bombay Grill and Taj Mahal: they are The Shiznit. The Fugly are most definitely Prince and Star of India. They were just nasty almost across the entire list of test dishes. The rest – well, they are somewhere in the middle. The Aight category of restaurants is markedly inconsistent in the quality of their offerings, as we find that some dishes are especially good, while others are forgettable. Namaste India falls pretty squarely into this Aight category. Really, a couple of things were quite nice, but it just didn’t quite make it over the hump of mediocrity. Read more »

India Garden: Monroeville

By | January 29, 2007

India Garden: Monroeville
3813 William Penn Hwy
Monroeville, 15146
412-372-0400
M: 12-10 ; Tues-Sat: 11:30-10; Sun: 5-10

As we hit our stride going into Week 6 of the Indian Food-A-Thon, we decided to go to the sister restaurant of a place most of the rating panel has been to many times, Indian Garden. The familiar India Garden, which is located in what we are now identifying as the Bad-Indian-Zone of Oakland, is loved by some and loathed by others, but we were wondering: is the Monroeville location any good, and is it any different from the Oakland restaurant? We can only answer part one at this time, but the answer surprised us all. It probably isn’t going to be the best overall, but almost all the test items met the minimum requirements specific to each dish. Additionally, India Garden: Monroeville put up the first real contenders in the Samosa, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Mango Chutney contests (though I still think that we will find much better out there). People also really liked the Saag Paneer and Channa Masala, but more on all this in the review below. For the intro paragraph, all you need to know is that this week’s adventure was surprisingly good, and fairly priced (~$17). If you need any other reasons to read on, then let me tell you that we had an honest-to-goodness Indian dude with us who shed light on such things as the subtleties of mango chutney, and the nasty digestive pills that gave Thiago H. Jal Jeera flashbacks last week, so check it out!
Read more »

Tamarind: Savoring India

By | January 23, 2007

Tamarind: Savoring India
2101 Greentree Rd
Greentree (South Hills), 15220
412-278-4848
Tues-Thurs & Sun: 11:30-2:30, 5-9:30; Fri-Sat: 12-3, 5-9:40

In Week 5 of the mad dash to find the best Indian restaurant in town, we decided to treat ourselves to something that would hopefully be a bazillion times better than the disappointing junk we had last week at Prince of India. I’ve heard from several people that Tamarind: Savoring India (the location in Greentree) was pretty much boss, plus at least one person from India that I talked to said that he thought that he heard it was alright, but he had never actually been there. So, we decided to give it a try. Results: good, but by far not the best. They do have a lot of Southern Indian dishes, which they prepare exceedingly better than the Northern recipes, and they use REAL spices (bonus!), but the overall experience left a little to be desired. Also in this issue: a special Finnish guest lends our rating panel an international edge, AND we solve the mystery of the Jal Jeera…Sweet! Read more »

Prince of India

By | January 17, 2007

Prince of India
3614 5th Ave
Oakland, 15213
412-687-0888
M-F: 11:30-2:30, 5-10; Sat-Sun: 12-3, 5-10

Let me tell ya, it is a good thing we are doing this Indian Food Marathon! In this week’s installment, and it is the fourth by the way, I found out that my previous perceptions about at least one restaurant were dead wrong. I used to think Prince of India was all right – not bad, even – but, Heavens to Murgatroid! Is this place a stinker! Nothing qualified as good, and one or two things were considered by most raters to be downright repulsive. It made me want to exit, double quick-time, stage left, and never ever ever come back. Read more »

Taj Mahal

By | January 6, 2007

Taj Mahal
7795 McKnight Road
North Hills, 15237
412-364-1760
M-Sun: 11:30-2:30; 5-10

Stop Three on the Quest for the Holy Indian Restaurant: Taj Mahal. I had never been here before, but I know at least one person, Ben Y., who calls it his favorite and I’ve always trusted his judgment. But then there was the time that someone else I know, Nicole C., got punched in the back by a waiter, apparently unprovoked. Hmmmm….mixed messages. Well, I’m glad I finally went because I was pleasantly surprised by its overall quality, both in food and service. And no one got punched either! Read more »

Star of India

By | January 5, 2007

Star of India
412 S Craig Street
Oakland, 15213
412-681-5700
M-Th:11:30-10; F&Sat:11:30-10:30; Sun:Noon-8:30

Act Two in the Indian Food-A-Thon takes place at Star of India in Oakland. To be fair, we intended to have Total Indian Culture Night by hitting Taj Mahal in the North Hills and then a Bollywood flick at the cinemaplexithon down the street, but it was, like, the one snowy day we had in December and the traffic was far too terrible. So, instead we went down the street to Star of India, which I remember frequenting as a freshman because it was the closest Indian restaurant to Carnegie Mellon. I haven’t really gone there since then, and what I remembered of it was that is was overpriced and not so great. Well, now that we’ve gone back for the official survey, 6 other reviewers agreed. It isn’t the foulest Indian we’ve ever had, but it certainly isn’t worth the shiny penny you pay for it. Read more »

Bombay Grill – CLOSED

By | January 5, 2007

Bombay Grill – CLOSED
416 Semple Street
Oakland, 15213
412-578-9778
M-Sun, 11am-Midnight

First up in our Indian Food-A-Thon is a little-known, backwoods-of-Oakland restaurant called Bombay Grill. When I say backwoods, I mean Semple Street, which is quite possibly the worst street in all of Oakland. But, the best Korean restaurant in Pittsburgh is on Semple, which bodes well. And in spite of the fact that you are best off not peering down the dark alleyways while walking around that area after 10pm, I have always heard good things about Bombay Grill itself. I’m no sissy, and neither are the Core 5, so we made it our very first stop! Thankfully, Bombay Grill was full of deliciousness! Read more »