Destination Dishes: Vegetarian Indian in West Broward
Gobi Manchurian is a good reason to visit Udipi Cafe in West Broward.
Navigating the sprawling expanse of South Florida can be difficult for even the most seasoned foodie. With Destination Dishes, we're looking to make your food travels easier. Each week, we'll highlight the most interesting food finds, broken down by region. Want to find great roti on 441? Or how about the most satisfying late-night slice in Fort Lauderdale. If you've got a region or foodstuff you'd like Destination Dishes to tackle, email us here.
We've got a hankering for: Vegetarian Indian food. When looking to go veg, the southern tip of the Indian peninsula works best. That means dosai, fried breads, pilaf, and plenty of spicy, meat-free dishes, some with Chinese influences.
Where we go: Two West Broward joints on University
Drive that are barely two miles apart from each other. The first is Woodlands Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, a small South Indian restaurant between Commercial and Oakland Park boulevards. The second is Udipi Cafe,
a Kosher/vegetarian Indian restaurant between Oakland Park and Sunrise.
The prices are so low at both places that two people can order a feast
and not spend $50.
What we get: The menus at both places
feature a broad range of South Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes anchored
by an assortment of delicious starches. Big hits at Woodlands include
the dosai, which are massive lentil or rice flour crepes stuffed with
curried potatoes and vegetables. We also like Woodland's take on
baingan bartha, a roasted eggplant dish with plenty of heat, and muttar
paneer, a tangy tomato curry filled with mild cheese cubes and green
peas. Woodland's best dish, though, is the chana batura, a bowl of
sweet, curried chickpeas served with a disco-ball-sized sphere of fried
bread. You peel the walls of the bread off and use it to scoop up the
chickpeas. It's phenomenal.
At Udipi, the menu skews similar.
Everything is great, but the Indo-Chinese dishes and house curries are
showstopping. The restaurant makes probably the best version of gobi
Manchurian I've ever had called "cauliflower 99." It features big
pieces of cauliflower that have been deep-fried in lentil flour. The
pieces are then stir-fried with chilies, garlic, ginger, and spices
until the breading moistens up and becomes extremely flavorful. The
tender pieces have a meat-like texture and big umami flavor thanks to a
rare ingredient in Indian food: soy sauce. Served with sautéed onions
on a sizzling platter, this is one vegetarian dish anyone can get
If you go: Folks coming from East Broward
should avoid Oakland Park Boulevard -- its Western strip has a stoplight every ten feet, it feels like. Stick with Commercial or Sunrise.
Both places take credit cards and are open until 10 p.m. most nights
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