Punjab Tandoori Indian Restaurant

Your first impulse might be to turn around as soon as you step inside the uninviting waiting area of Punjab Tandoori restaurant in Budapest’s Újlipótváros neighborhood, a bit away from the city center. But you shouldn’t. Instead, climb the steep stairs leading to the low-ceilinged, cluttered dining room, where you'll sit elbow-to-elbow with fellow diners. Somehow this humble and sweltering space manages to be cozy, almost intimate. This isn't the best Indian restaurant in Budapest, but it's definitely the quirkiest (the pretense-free service is direct to the point of rudeness but somehow also well-meaning).

Punjab Tandoor opened back in 2005, when few Indian places existed in Budapest and it's still the go-to choice for curries to many locals, hence the Hungarian-heavy crowd. The north Indian menu has some hits like the chicken tikka masala with a perfectly layered pungency (€6), some misses like the painfully dry tandoori chicken (€7), and plenty of reliable dishes like the chicken hara masala, the biryani, the saag paneer (spinach with morsels of cheese), and the dal makhani lentil stew.

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