Indian restaurants in New York City go back over a century, and Times Square was an early hotspot. Perhaps the most famous example of the era was the paradoxically named Taj Mahal Hindu Indian Restaurant, founded in 1918 at 242 West 42nd Street at a time when many South Asian students, businesspeople, dock workers, and sailors lived in boarding houses in the vicinity. The New York Times mentioned it glowingly.
Midtown remained the main repository of Indian restaurants, also causing curries to migrate onto the menus of more effete restaurants and hotels. By the 1970s, there were many steam table establishments serving Punjabi fare in various parts of the city, ladling rice and curries into compartmentalized plates and slinging tandoori items that competed with our earliest barbecue joints when it came to smoky flavors.
Then along came campuses of Indian restaurants in places like Jackson Heights, Murray Hill, Jersey City, Utopia Parkway, and Edison, New Jersey, with sit-down restaurants offering specialties of several regions; eventually, we had restaurants dedicated to individual dishes like biryani and dosas, the food of a single city or region, and Mumbai street snacks. Finally, a new variety of luxury restaurant appeared, offering more creative and nuanced takes on classic dishes, along with strong cocktails, readily competing with other fine dining establishments in the city and attracting a whole new generation of diners.
Note: The cuisine of India overlaps with that of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Himalayan countries. Not wanting to lump all South Asian cuisines together, we’re saving those for future maps.
NYC restaurants can now offer indoor dining at 50 percent capacity along with outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining out, as there are still safety concerns. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit the NYC Health Department’s website. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.Read More