I pride my collection of authentic New York foodie spots. From authentic dumplings in Chinatown to the best Spanish food in the Boogie-Down Bronx to awesome street vendor food in Brooklyn, I thought I had all of my bases covered. That is until a friend introduced me to Punjabi, Indian food on the Lower East Side that is so out-of-this-world, it’s where all the cabbies eat.
Truly a hole-in-the-wall, Punjabi is not big nor fancy, and is pretty much standing room only. That being said, it is the cheapest, most delicious (not to mention all vegetarian) food this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Or at least this side of Houston Street. Set up buffet style, you choose your meal from giant tin pans, and the guy behind the counter warms it up for you. My favorite is lentils and chickpeas over a bowl of steaming rice. And for $3, it’s a deal that truly can’t be beat.
After your food is ordered and you’ve found a place to stand and scarf down the savory goodness, you’ll start to appreciate Punjabi for it’s other authenticity: the Bollywood-esque vibe. The walls of Punjabi are lined with Indian movies, CDs, and various ethnic groceries. The workers there are beyond friendly, and always greet you with a jolly smile and seem genuinely happy to serve you. That’s service you don’t see at too many $3 NYC foodie joints. Or at many $30 foodie joints, for that matter.
Seriously, don’t waste your time on cheap Indian food when you can get cheap(er) Indian food that is the real deal at Punjabi. You may have to push your way through a hoard of cabbies to place your order, but both the food and the memorable NYC foodie experience will be worth it.
114 East 1st Street (Between 1st Ave. and Ave. A)
New York, New York 10009
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen