Indian Street Food
From the lovely people who brought you the excellent Indian Cuisine restaurant comes the equally creatively named…Indian…Street Food. It’s just called Indian Street Food. Located at the opposite end of the plaza from its sister restaurant at 3550 SW 34th Street, this all-vegetarian restaurant is fantastic and you should all go eat there. Allow me to expand upon my hyperbolic exclamation…
If you aren’t familiar, think crepes but thinner, crispier, and made from rice batter that’s served with fillings either whole or cut up almost like quesadillas (crepesadillas©). Either way, they’re the only place in town that I’m aware of serving such deliciousness, and they’re totally and utterly made for Instagrammers to go full Instagram. The fillings range from potato masala to onion and spicy red chili chutney for anywhere from $8.99 to $10.99 served with lentil soup, and 3 types of chutneys to dip in (coconut, peanut, and tomato). There’s also a perplexing but intriguing Pizza Dosa that is exactly what it sounds like, a dosa stuffed with pizza sauce, oregano, bell peppers, tomato, black olives, and cheese. No matter what you choose, the dosas are crispy, light, and flavorful, providing a great contrast to the rich veggie fillings. Oh, and definitely dip it in the tomato chutney. It’s the best one in my humble opinion. They are really the highlight of the restaurant, and you definitely done goofed if you don’t order one.
Of course, there’s much more to the menu than just Dosas. Not unlike its sister restaurant, Indian Cuisine, the décor is bright but sparse, the plate-ware and tables are rather utilitarian, and the menu is massively overwhelming on your first visit so bring a friend or five to share the small plates. Unlike its sister restaurant, there is no buffet here, and the menu consists all street foods (duh) and some Indo-Chinese dishes that are very popular in India. Let’s round up some of the popular items…
You’re all familiar with samosas (fried pastries filled with veggies and spices), there is also a variety of chaat which are small bowls of potato, onion, tomato, and mint mixed with some kind of crispy ingredient and chutney/yogurt. I recommend the Aloo Tikki Chaat (chickpeas, crispy veggie patties, onions, tomato, potato, chutney, and yogurt) or the Samosa Chaat (essentially a mashed up samosa smothered in veggies, chutney, and sweet yogurt).
Further down the menu, you’ll find more street food stalwarts like Pav Bhaji, which are buttered and toasted dinner rolls meant to be dipped into a veggie tomato onion sauce. There are Indian sandwiches like the Bombay Cheese Toast (potato masala, onion, cucumber, tomato, beets, cheese) served with mint chutney, ketchup, and potato chips. Or you could opt for some Szechuan noodles, veggie fried rice, or Gobi 65 (fried cauliflower tossed in a sauce supposedly made from 65 different chilis).
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as the service leaves a lot to be desired. Our server was generally confused, did not know what any of the menu items were, and did not even refill our drinks despite only having one other table. Definitely a far cry from the venerable servers at Indian Cuisine, who could be curt at times, but are often on top of things. So be prepared to wait and/or get frustrated during peak hours. But I’m confident this will improve over time.
The menu is overwhelming and the dishes are deceivingly filling, so as I mentioned earlier, you’re going to want to bring some friends. Both portions and flavors here are substantial enough that even the biggest carnivore could still feel satiated. At the very least, it’s a restaurant that is friendly to your vegetarian friends that you definitely would not mind tagging along for. This is one of the more unique restaurants to pop up in Gainesville, and certainly contributing towards the continued rise of very solid specialized ethnic restaurants. I ain’t mad about it.
Lunch is served 11:30 AM to 3 PM and dinner is served from 5 PM to 9 PM on Sundays to Thursdays, dinner service only on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 PM to 9:30 PM, and closed Mondays. Happy eating, friends.