Yes, Tamarind, located in the heart of Tribeca, is an Indian restaurant that’s been around for over two decades, but tired it isn’t. In fact, it’s the star of a place with a star that’s brighter than ever.
Owner Avtar Walia opened the first location in the Flatiron District in 2001, and the Tribeca location followed ten years later (the Flatiron location has since closed). Walia says he wanted to provide an Indian dining experience that hadn’t previously existed in the country. “When I looked at restaurants from other cultures like Italian, French, Japanese, all with Michelin stars, it inspired me to create my own,” he told me, when I read it. first covered in Forbes.com several years ago. “I felt Indian culture has the knowledge, rich culture and innovation to do that too.”
He continued, “I said I wanted to own a place like any French or Italian restaurant. My competition will be with these people. I want to compete with places like Jean-Georges,” he said at the time.
Walia achieved his vision and more: the restaurant is considered the godfather of high-end Indian cuisine in the United States and was a hot spot from the moment it opened. Celebrities were – and still are – among the regulars: Robert Redford, Taylor Swift, Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman and many more. Diners also include posh millennials, industry titans and high-profile Indians such as the Ambanis (one of the wealthiest families in the world) who only dine at Tamarind when in New York. . It’s no wonder reservations are in short supply.
I can tell you that this is one of my favorite places to dine, not just in New York, but anywhere really, and on par with the best restaurants in the world.
A meal here hits all the right notes: the two-level restaurant is sleek with a distinct modern aesthetic and wood finishes that lend warmth. The high ceilings create a lightness and add to the grandeur of the space. Tamarind also has an impressive outdoor setup with chic booths for privacy and tables that line the perimeter. On a nice night, this is the area you want to be.
Before we even step into the main dining room, let’s talk about the lively bar. You can happily spend an evening here and enjoy the lively surroundings, as well as delicious cocktails and a stellar range of spirits and wines. The wine list features over 200 varietals, including prestigious names like Petrus, Caymus and rare Amarones. The spirits list is also spinning with choices like Japanese whiskeys and Clase Azul anejo tequila.
Now for the main event: Walia’s team of chefs have been working with it since it opened and their talent is showing.
The menu includes many original dishes from the restaurant’s early days, but is constantly updated with new creative interpretations. Whether you are an omnivore or a vegan, a meal here will satisfy you. Staple meats include lamb chops, lamb shank, Kashmiri goat and a Punjabi style chicken skewer.
Seafood is also in the spotlight. While India isn’t necessarily known for its seafood, Tamarind proves that theory wrong. Walia points out that the country has many coastal areas such as Mumbai. “There you can get the freshest seafood,” he says. “Many of these dishes are bestsellers on our menu.” Try the Kerala fish curry, halibut with coconut and ginger, baked sole or sea scallops with poppy seeds. Or maybe lobster masala is more your style.
And I can’t forget the vegetarian specialties like lachedar bhindi or okra with dried mango, Baigan or Japanese eggplant with peanuts and sesame seeds and kofta – hearty dumplings of lotus root in a saffron sauce with onion.
Side dishes are a key part of any Indian meal. They are a highlight in Tamarind. Try spinach and garlic rice, baked basmati rice with vegetables, nuts and raisins and tandoor baked breads like whole wheat roti and broccoli and cheese nan.
Desserts are usually an afterthought in Indian restaurants, but at Tamarind, nothing is an afterthought. The sweet endings are plentiful here and all worth the splurge. Kulfi is a killer and comes in pistachio or mango flavor, cardamom crème brûlée is an accurate take on a French classic, and rasmalai – pressed cheese with milk and water syrup. rose – is both refreshing and indulgent.
But my praise aside, there’s a reason Tamarind has been going strong for over 20 years and attracting both dedicated regulars and new fans. Come see for yourself what they love.