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BEST INDIAN RESATAURANT Minneapolis 2003 - New Delhi

Readers' Choice: Taste of India

At lunchtime New Delhi is a hopping place. The diverse diners--as much a melting pot as the Indian metropolis this young restaurant is named for--pop up and down from the white-draped tables to survey an expansive buffet filled with treats like pungent beef curry, delicately spiced tandoori chicken, deep-fried pakoras, and warm, doughy naan. At $6.95, it's no wonder the place is packed. Even better is the fact that this Eat Street establishment has a delightful ambience: The walls are painted with verdant landscapes and starry nights and women in saris. The lattice ceiling is draped with vibrant, luxurious silks. The water is served in metal cups. The menu offers pithy biographies of Mughal monarchs, including Humayun (the Luckless Leader), who "died tripping down the steps of his library," and Aurangzeb (the Intolerant), a "warrior with an axe to grind." Perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised at this melding of fine Indian cuisine with splendid décor. After all, the restaurant's three co-owners, who launched New Delhi last summer, met while working at New Brighton's defunct but fondly remembered Chutney Indian Bistro. The main menu is replete with dozens of dishes, from handmade samosas to a dozen types of bread (we're partial to the Coconut Kulcha, which is naan filled with coconut). There's a wide selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrees (the latter come with your choice of chicken, lamb, shrimp, fish, or lobster). Add to all this an impressive selection of beer and wine, a spacious full bar, and a happy hour with half-price appetizers (except for those wonderful samosas), and you'll soon figure out why New Delhi is quickly becoming the Twin Cities' new Indian star.

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