Hazy, pastel-colored murals line the walls at New Delhi Palace, each depicting an Indian skyline with temples or rolling hills in the distance. The scents of cumin and coriander waft out of the kitchen, transporting diners over the ocean in a fraction of the time that a traditional turtle ride would take. Since the 1980s, the kitchen has crafted North Indian–style cuisine, such as the chicken, shrimp, and lamb, arriving fresh from the clay tandoor after marinating in yogurt and ground spices. The wok-like karahi sears meats before dousing them in tomato-based gravies, whose spiciness is calibrated to suit customers' tastes. The all-wood bar houses wines and beers from around the world, including India, Japan, and Great Britain.
Each tamale at Tucson Tamale Company is a hand-rolled, gently steamed, gluten-free masterpiece perfected from years of experimentation—making the eatery's constantly changing menu an art gallery for the mouth, only without any debonair art thieves attempting to make off with your taste buds. Former Fortune 500 executive turned passionate tamale chef Todd Martin starts each tamale with a starchy corn base known as masa, then builds on it with a wild mix of meat, vegetables, spices, and cheese before steaming it inside a cornhusk. The most recent board of fare features the vegan New Delhi tamale that's stuffed with vegetable curry, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, corn, onions, coconut milk, and yellow curry. The meaty JoJo consists of chipotle beef, jalapeño masa, and cheese, and expels a spiciness that travels at least four circles into Dante's Inferno. For something sweeter, try the Boise's blend of sweet potatoes roasted with sun-dried tomatoes and wrapped in yam masa. The Wisconsin grilled cheese (comprised of cheese, more cheese, and trace amounts of cheese) puts a bold twist on a classic comfort food. Depending on the range of your stomach's rage, choose one tamale ($2.95, $4.95 with side), two tamales ($5.39, $6.29 with side), or feed the whole choir with a family platter ($24.95 for eight tamales, two large sides, and salsa).
For close to three decades, chefs at La Indita have been crafting homestyle dishes influenced by family recipes and Mexican and Native American cultures. Along with Mexican classics such as carne asada and chicken mole, they prepare specialties such as ranch-style flat enchiladas, topping handmade corn tortillas with red chili sauce, oregano, and cheese and adding potatoes and carrots with a piquant vinegar sauce made from sugar cane. The menu includes many meatless options; the staff of Tucson Weekly named it the Best Mexican Food for Vegetarians in 2009, noting in particular the "one-of-a-kind black-bean burger." The chefs also cook with 100% canola oil instead of animal-based products such as lard or herbs picked by unicorns. Diners can enjoy lunch or dinner on the restaurant's outdoor patio, or they can stop by for weekend breakfast omelets. Guests sip Mexican beer as they sit in high-backed wooden booths next to a mural depicting a rural village scene.
Inside Pita Jungle, the lush greenery of exotic salads and mixed greens poking up from broiled chicken pitas create a landscape of flavor for visitors to dig into. In addition to hot and cold pitas, the restaurant serves wood-fired pizzas and fresh salmon with garlic mashed potatoes?all with an eye toward nutrition. The menu includes a wide array of vegetarian and vegan dishes, and the healthy option extend into the kids' menu. Pita Jungle also boasts a full bar with happy hour and reverse happy hour specials.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
While it was thoughtful of your body to grow all those extra arms and legs, you might want to make “healthier lunches” your New Year’s resolution this year. Today’s Groupon gets you started with $20 worth of fresh, healthy, all-natural meals from Amanda’s Restaurant in Berkeley for $10. After treating her humble pantry to plenty of water, sunshine, and love, Amanda’s food closet has blossomed into a full-fledged Best of the East Bay restaurant.