Friday, May 8, 2009

Curry Hill vs. Brick Lane

One of my favorite cuisines is Indian, and luckily New York does not disappoint in its quantity of Indian restaurant offerings. From the upscale Indian tasting menus of Devi to the colorful take-out joints like Curry in a Hurry, Indian food is never far. Though Indian restaurants can be found anywhere in Manhattan, the two competing Indian epicenters seem to be Curry Hill in Murray Hill and Brick Lane in the East Village.

While Brick Lane is much more colorful - often with live musicians and restaurant windows bedecked with thousands of twinkling lights - Curry Hill seems to attract a bit more Indian clientele. Both neighborhoods claim some very good options.

Brick Lane, which is 6th street between 2nd Ave. and 1st Ave. has many cheap dinner options and the atmosphere in many of the restaurants is lively. But don't get lured in simply by the lights and music. Not all the restaurants are worthwhile. The three best I've tried are: Ghandi, Banjura and Brick Lane Curry House. Ghandi and Banjura are on the far eastern end of 6th street, and Brick Lane Curry House is on the far western side. Ghandi and Banjura both offer very reasonably priced meals, and are always tasty. Brick Lane Curry House is slightly more expensive ($15 - $20 per entree). Though this post is about Indian food, I can't talk about 6th street without mentioning Zerza - a wonderful Moroccan restaurant (next door to Brick Lane Curry House).

Curry Hill roughly stretches from 30th to 26th on Lexington, and overflows somewhat on the the side streets. My favorite in this neighborhood place for a good chicken mahkni is Curry Leaf, which is on Lex at 27th. The pricing of the Curry Hill restaurants varies much more than on Brick Lane. You can find extremely cheap (and somewhat dingy) takeout joints as well as more upscale chic restaurants. In addition to restaurants, Curry Hill holds a variety of various Indian shops - from sari shops to grocers. The best thing to be found in this neighborhood is Kalustyan's grocery (on Lex between 28th and 27th). Kalustyan's is a grocery offering exotic foods (with a bent more toward Middle Eastern than Indian). Explore the shelves for labne (heavy cream), baklava, teas, incense, spices, dozens of varieties of rice and lentils and all sorts of tasty international treats.

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