Indian Restaurants Review - 1st Avenue, East Village: Panna II, Milon & Royal Indian Cuisine
Location: 93 1st Avenue # 5, New York, NY 10003
This trio of East Village Indian Restaurants, with ceilings lined with red pepper Christmas tree lights, is affordable and their food is the best in town for the price. The ambiance is unique to say the least; having to duck down under Christmas tree lights to reach your table in Panna II and an outdoor garden seating area in Royal Indian Cuisine. When it comes to eating in the east village, it’s hard to find a sit-down restaurant that matches the quality of those in New York City while also being easy on your wallet.
Located along 1st avenue is three Indian Restaurants, alike in décor and selection, but with different owners and hosts that are fighting for your business. As soon as you approach these storefronts, drawing you in with the twinkling Christmas lights, the hosts begin vying for you as a customer. No matter which you choose, you’re guaranteed a great experience with delicious food at a great price in a unique atmosphere but with some slight differences between the three.
At Panna II, each guest receives Papadum, thin tean wafers with various dipping sauces, at their table and the menu options are as good as the prices. Their menu ranges from Chicken Liver with poori to Fish Tikka Masala to Chicken Kurma, which is cooked with cream sauce, almonds, raisins and sweet spices. These restaurants are cash-only but are also BYOB. This single dollar sign per YELP Indian food restaurant is BYOB, meaning you can bring in a bottle of wine or even a glass of beer at the bodega next to the restaurant to enjoy with your meal.
At this restaurant prepare to sit at tiny tables, but don’t be afraid to go with a large group of friends. Often I've seen large groups of even 20 be seated, with a reservation, to celebrate a birthday. They will also play their version of Happy Birthday for you when bringing the desert. A group of 4 can easily be fed for under $30, which is a rarity in New York City in the East Village. I recommend ordering 3 main courses and an appetizer to share between four of your friends so you can each sample different dishes. And don’t forget the Naan Bread!
Directly next to Panna II, up the same steps but to the left, is Milon: a restaurant that is the mirror reflection of Panna II and holds the same menu options, BYOB policies and cash-only acceptance. This restaurant front will also have a dinner host competing for your business, perhaps throwing in a free appetizer with your meal, so keep an ear out.
Located directly below Panna II is Royal Indian Cuisine, the nicer choice for those warm summer evenings as they have garden seating outside. The seating in the back is under an awning surrounded by lush plants and trees. This location still has the signature red pepper lights and Christmas light on the walls and ceilings but it is a separate establishment. The prices match Panna II in affordability, however they do accept credit cards here. However, also note they don’t allow outside drinks like Panna II and Milon does.
It’s hard to tell these establishments apart but don’t let the shared lights display fool you, the hosts of these restaurants will stand outside and beckon you to come in, offering something better than the other from free wine to an appetizer included in your meal. You’re guaranteed a great authentic Indian meal; so let the choices draw you in and choose wisely.
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