It’s week two of Hometown Pasadena’s campaign to root out good, inexpensive little restaurants in a diverse range of neighborhoods. This week’s recommendation is a find in Montrose:
It’s easy to become blind to the array of international cafés that cram into our strip malls; you keep meaning to stop and try that little Thai, Vietnamese, Central American or Indian joint but somehow never get around it. I’ve driven by the tiny strip mall that holds India’s Flavor (and a neighboring Indian market) for a couple of years and finally went in after it was recommended by two friends who don’t live in the neighborhood, and who know their Indian food. They were right: It’s a sweet little spot that gives a lot of bang for the buck.
India’s Flavor is a shoebox-size room jammed into the corner of a strip a couple of blocks south of La Cabanita and Bashan, with a decor that’s pretty much limited to (sound-off) Bollywood movies on the flat-screen TV and the exuberant smiles of the two women who wait on the handful of tables. Those tables are typically full at lunch during the week, thanks to the $8.45 all-you-can-eat buffet, which includes tender tandoori chicken; one of several chicken curries; saag paneer (Indian creamed spinach), which may not look beautiful after sitting on the buffet for a while but which tastes great; delicious chana masala (saucy, ginger-infused garbanzo beans); a vegetarian curry or yogurt-based dish; and the usual rice and pappadum (crisp cracker bread).
If you’re not up for a buffet, or you’re visiting for dinner or weekend lunch, the menu has all the northern Indian standards: naan breads, biryani rice dishes, pakoras, salads and an array of vegetarian, chicken, lamb and beef curries. Dishes roasted in the tandoor oven are served as “Sizzlers” on little cast-iron platters, like Indian fajitas. The dishes are generously served, carefully prepared and quite reasonably priced.
Besides the lunch buffet, the best deals are the combinations, especially the dinner combination — for an extra $6 on top of your entree (they run from $8 to $15) you get soup or salad, a vegetable, rice and tender, puffy naan bread. And the kids’ meal for $6.95 is a great value, too.
3303 N. Verdugo Rd., Glendale/Montrose, 818.957.5500. L & D Mon.-Sat. Indian. No booze. MC, V. $ – $$ indiasflavor.com