Restaurant Review: Punjabi

114 East 1st Street
(between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
East Village, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

Punjabi is a narrow sliver of space, found half-underground on Houston Street across from the renowned Katz’s Delicatessen. As a claustrophobic hybrid of convenience store and eatery, don’t expect to find any bells and whistles in your dining experience (you won’t even find stools if you choose to eat along the thin counter that lines one wall).

The space has little natural light entering from the outside, and the venue’s fixtures and furnishings all walk a fine line between being well-worn and looking dirty. We suspect their food is cooked off-site, and you should expect your order to be drawn from steam trays, heated in a microwave, and served on Styrofoam.

However, you don’t visit Punjabi for the ambiance. You visit for the best vegetarian bargain in the East Village, and one of the cheapest vegi-meals in NYC.

For $7 each, we ordered two fully-stocked plates with a vegan sag, an onion-pepper stew, a chickpea dish, roti, and a salad. A water pitcher for customers sits at the end of the service counter, but we decided to go for a mango lassi and a gingerale to drink instead. As a dessert, we went with a small, but overflowing bowl of rice pudding.

The staff were boisterously friendly, and gave us generous portions that left us with substantial amounts to take home after we finished eating. The food was also good; maybe not among the most refined or best prepared of the NYC Indian food we’ve sampled, but certainly delicious enough to make us happy.

Dining at Punjabi is about the price. You could easily get away with paying $3 for a filling, good-tasting hot meal. Well worth keeping on every urban vegetarian’s Rolodex, lower Manhattan can offer few better dining bargains than this.

Food (2.5/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (4/4)

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