I started going to Sitar India (60 S. 38th Street) when I was a poor college student. The first time I went, I swore that I wouldn’t like it. Indian food? Gross. One trip here though, and I was hooked. When my BFF and I worked at Penn, we went here for lunch a couple of times a month (on one of those trips, I fell down the front steps. I still have a scar on my knee). Today, it’s Chester and my go-to place for a quick dinner before our shows at the Walnut Street Theater.
Although you can order from a menu, the main draw of the place is the buffet—it’s all-you-can-eat and ridiculously cheap (about $9 for lunch, and $12 for dinner. If you have a student ID, there’s a discount). This is probably the only buffet I don’t mind eating from. It’s clean, and since the place is usually packed with starving college students, things usually don’t sit out for too long.
There are usually about ten different dishes on the buffet—chicken, goat, lamb, and lots of veggie options—plus naan, salads, chutneys, and desserts. My favorite things are the chicken tikka masala, veggie samosas, and the paneer mattar. Everything has just the right amount of spice, for me anyway. They usually don’t vary the selections too much, but sometimes they have these Indian style chicken wings that Chester really likes. Desserts are just okay—rice pudding, fruit custard and sometimes, ice cream. They have only offered my favorite Indian dessert, gulab jamun (kind of like a munchkin, served in a cardamom flavored sugar syrup), once, if I remember correctly. But, I’m usually so full after eating everything else that I don’t have room anyway.
The inside is kind of dark, with red tile on the walls, so it’s kind of like being in a swimming pool or something. The yellow paint and red curtains outside are ugly. So, it’s not much in terms of ambience. But, the food and the service is consistently good. And, when I’m there, I can pretend I’m still a poor college student (Ugh. Has it really been seven years since I actually was?). That’s good enough for me.
Oh, and at dinner, they give you mango juice. Bonus.