Rainey Street Bites

G'Raj Mahal Cafe

73 Rainey, 512/480-2255, http://www.grajmahalaustin.com
Mon., 5pm-10pm; Tue.-Fri., 11am-12mid; Sat.-Sun., noon-12mid
Rainey Street Bites

G'Raj Mahal Cafe

91 Red River (facing Davis), 480-2255
Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, 5pm-midnight; Friday-Saturday, 5pm-2am

We recently had the opportunity to drive the highway from Agra to New Delhi, and dotted along the way were several exotic looking outdoor eateries. The trendiest amongst foodies are dhabas, which are often Punjabi huts serving spicy fare to truck drivers. But there are also nicer places to serve families and business types, in some combination of kitchen, grassy area, and a fairly luxurious tent or other structure for the comfort of the customers. When we first saw G'Raj Mahal Cafe, it almost looked like we were back in India. That was, until we got in and saw the only-in-Austin 20-foot-long psychedelic bicycle.

We ordered everything medium spicy. Indeed, our server told us that the spiciness varied by who was leading the kitchen each night – so it's a good idea to ask. My favorite dish was the dahl makhani ($9); the most perfectly textured black lentils in the creamiest possible sauce with just enough curry spiciness to grab your attention. We all loved the korma ($14) with large chunks of paneer cheese. As with other dishes, you pick your own meat, and here, we chose fork-tender goat. The Malabar ($10) with lamb married its coconut and caramelized onion flavors, and the big chunks of tender lamb melted in our mouths. Even the garlic naan ($2) was exceptional. We weren't alone in loving the place. It was jammed to the gills from the moment we arrived at 7:30 until we left at 11pm. The fact that they happily allow you to BYOB is icing on the cake. – Wes Marshall

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