Phaedra Cook is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes of 2015. It's a collection of personal favorites that is also indicative of Houston dining. It's a scene where a vast range of dishes coexist: highbrow and lowbrow; local and international; cheap and expensive; modern cuisine and beloved tenets — and everything in between.
Tandoori Nite is kind of a dumpy-looking truck at a dumpy-looking gas station in an unglamorous area of town between West Oaks and Sugar Land. It’s also one of Houston’s best destinations for authentic Desi cuisine.
Don’t expect the Tandoori Nite truck to haul back on the spice level. Do expect that while dining on their luscious, orange-red Chicken Tikka Masala that you will bite into a whole cardamom seed here and there. The growing heat from the other spices will wring sweat from your brow as you sit upon the benches in the sparse covered dining area in the parking lot.
If the only experiences you’ve had with Indian food is at the gentrified restaurants in the “nice” parts of town, hold onto your socks, cowboy. You’re going for a ride.
Tandoori Nite’s Chicken Tikka Masala is exceptionally saucy. For that reason, it’s best to get it with a side of rice to soak up the excess. That being said, it would be a crime to miss out on the pungent garlic naan. The truck may not look like much on the outside, but she’s got it where it counts on the inside. There’s actually a full-fledged, searingly-hot tandoor right in the truck. The naan that Tandoori Nite makes is on par with any air-conditioned restaurant in town.
Speaking of air-conditioning: take your order to eat in your comfortable home, if you will, but you’ll be missing out on the parade of well-dressed families who decided to dine out next to Highway 6. Sure, if you’re not Indian, you’ll be the odd one out and get a few sidelong glances, but it’s nothing derisive. It's just a little sad that cultural crossovers are still somehow remarkable in certain parts of Houston's dining world.
Service is gruff but not uncaring. We had lots of both naan and sauce left over. When we asked for to-go containers, the workers on the truck handed us what we needed, including foil for the naan. I started to wrap up the naan, tenting the foil over paper plate and all.
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SHOW ME HOW
“Give it here,” said one of the men in the truck. “I’ll do it.” He removed the plate, wrapped the bread tightly in foil and handed back the neat package. It was a strange dose of caring—a way to ensure my food made it back home in the best condition possible. Consider me schooled.
The truck is open Wednesdays through Sundays and has recently started offering breakfast. If you happen to make it over there during the morning hours, let us know how it is!
The List of Top 100 Dishes of 2015 So Far:
No. 79, Chocolates at Cacao & Cardamom
No, 80, Hummus Supreme at Al's Quick Stop
No. 81, Red Oil Dumplings at Mala Sichuan
No. 82, Tex-Cajun Fries at BB's Café
No. 83, Mac & Cheese at The Oceanaire Seafood Room
No. 84, The Principal Burger at Bernie's Burger Bus
No. 85, Hunter's Honey-Roasted Duck at Brennan's Of Houston
No. 86, Fish & Chips at Good Dog Houston
No. 87, Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuit at Blacksmith
No. 88, "Saucy Balls" At Brooklyn Meatball Company
No. 89, Perry's Steakhouse/Perry & Sons Pork Chop
No. 90, General Tso's Chicken from The Rice Box
No. 91, Eggs, Refried Beans, Hash Browns and Hugo's Sauce at 59 Diner
No. 92, Shipley Do-Nuts Plain Glazed
No. 93, Housemade Bologney at Public Services Wine & Whisky
No. 94, Bo Luc Lac at Cheno's (formerly Chino's) Fast Food
No. 95, Combo #5 at Soto's Cantina
No. 96, Carnitas Salad At Chipotle
No. 97, Pickled Shrimp At Punk's Simple Southern Food
No. 98, Lobster Roll At Maine-Ly Sandwiches
No. 99, Chili-Cheese Coneys At JCI Grill
No. 100, Corned Beef Hash And Eggs At House Of Pies