“Mela” means “gathering” or “fiesta” in Sanskrit, a fitting name since those are the kind of events that the restaurant facilitates with its traditional and very sharable feasts. The housemade breads, which range from flat naan to balloon-like poori, whet appetites for seasoned-to-order entrees, ranging from mild to spicy depending on the diner’s palate and how convincing they want to be when fake-crying. The eatery’s tandoor, a traditional clay oven, roasts dishes such as chicken tikka masala and tandoori shrimp; alternatively, curry dishes such as the spicy lamb vindaloo complement kebabs and succulent chunks of meat or veggies sitting atop beds of basmati rice infused with cashews, raisins, and saffron. A full bar rounds out the menu with domestic and imported beer, wine, and liquor that can wash down à la carte meals, buffet-style lunches served seven days a week, or buffet-style dinners that delight palates Sunday–Wednesday.
Simi's centerpiece is a large hanging stained-glass art piece––a woman in full Sari playing a sitar amid a field of blossoming flowers. Zooming out, the restaurant complements the art with verdant flowing vines and a rustic gray stone partition. Amid these striking accents, tables line with dinner entrees of lamb curry, zesty seafood masala, and boneless chicken fired in a traditional clay-oven tandoor. Diners may also grab a bite during Simi's popular lunch buffet, which has been dazzling San Antonio for more than 20 years.
Pavani Express waters fledgling belly gardens with a veggie-centric menu of delectable Indian cuisine. Fill metaphorical breadbaskets with the literal flatbread of chapati korma (two pieces, $4.99) or grow walrus tusks of flame with hot and spicy noodles ($6.99). Garlic fried rice ($5.99) wards off any vegan vampires prowling the restaurant while the cheese and spinach-loaded saag paneer ($7.99) bestows diners with faded anchor tattoos and disproportionately muscled forearms.