On a nationwide expansion bender, Chicago-based fast-casual Eggholic laid its first New York City egg. Opened in late September at 256-01 Hillside Avenue, at 256th Street, in Floral Park, Queens, the restaurant focuses on a kaleidoscope of egg-based Indian street foods, the scope of which has been rarely seen in NYC. It runs the gamut of omelets, scrambles, curries, burritos, biryanis, roti wraps, and double-decker sandwiches.
In a local egg scene that’s currently dominated by classics like shakshuka, omurice, and bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches, Eggholic is shaking things up. Perhaps not since the 2014 opening of Egg Shop in Soho (now with a second spot in Williamsburg) and the buzzy 2017 launch of the now-closed Eggslut residency at Chefs Club Counter, has a restaurant injected such a heavy dose of ovular ingenuity.
On the corner of Hillside Avenue, Floral Park’s main commercial corridor that’s dotted with South Asian restaurants, Eggholic’s 50-item menu comprises new concoctions but mainly traditional dishes pulled from the laaris, or street carts, of India. The best-selling surti gotalo is a rich red egg curry cooked with butter, ginger, tomato, chiles, and shredded eggs, and topped with two sunnyside-up eggs. Mix those into the curry and scoop it all up with roti. The Anda Masala, a double-decker grilled egg-and-cheese sandwich has won accolades for its layers of chopped egg cloaked in tingly masala, crunchy morsels of cucumber and bell pepper, and gooey American cheese. The risotto-like green egg rice dish features mint-infused rice with egg in a tadka of mustard seeds and curry leaves.
The menu items are churned out fresh in a sunny, airy, and modern space. An egg-yolk-yellow ceiling hangs over blonde wood tables and walls, and white metal chairs bear geometrically patterned backs. But nostalgia’s invoked in the bright, blown-up text in 10 Indian languages including Hindi and Gujarati. Parts of popular movie quotes substitute in names of Eggholic’s dishes: “Please accept my gotalo” in lieu of “gift” from the 2009 hit, 3 Idiots.
The Queens outpost is the result of an agreement between two Indian immigrant franchise-owning parties: Eggholic co-founder Bhagyesh Patel who worked up from sandwich maker to franchise owner of several Subway stores in Chicago and Nilesh Patel (not related), franchise owner of the local spot and a partner of Northern Management Group, which owns more than 30 Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven stores in New York. For both parties, Eggholic represents a foray into satiating the unmet comfort food cravings of their Indian immigrant community.
“Dude, where can I get those eggs here?” Bhagyesh says he and his co-founder and cousin, Lay Patel, would ask themselves after every visit from their hometown of Ahmedabad, where they’d enjoy family Egg Nights three times every week as a post-dinner snack.
In 2018, the Patel cousins opened their first Eggholic in Schaumburg, a suburb of Chicago, and the reception has been wild. There are now seven other locations spanning Indian American enclaves across the U.S. (and one in Canada), with five more to open soon in cities including Edison, New Jersey to Nashville, Tennessee; Chantilly, Virginia; and Sugar Land, Texas. The quote wall and the menu are trademarks of every Eggholic location.
“You can go to any restaurant, eat anything you want,” says Nilesh, the Queens franchise owner. “But when you bring your country’s food and the memories back to the United States, that’s what people are happy about.”
Eggholic is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Caroline Shin is a Queens-raised food journalist and founder of the Cooking with Granny YouTube and workshop series spotlighting immigrant grandmothers. Follow her on Instagram @CookingWGranny.