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Punjabi Grocery & Deli (Manhattan, NY) – Go Where the Cabbies Go

November 30, 2011

I’m sure you’ve heard of the travel tip, “go where the locals go”. Well, let me take that to the next level – don’t just go where the locals go, go where the cabbies go.

Across the street from Katz’s Deli, Punjabi Grocery & Deli (NOT to be confused with the Punjabi grocery a couple doors down from Katz’s) is where you find the taxi drivers of New York chowing down. It’s a true hole-in-the-wall – there’s no seating whatsoever and only has a counter to rest your bowl while you eat – but like many other hole-in-the-walls, it serves some of the cheapest, tastiest eats in the city.

Seven vegetarian dishes are stored in a refrigerated case, scooped into Styrofoam bowls and nuked in one of the half dozen microwaves sitting atop the case. The bowl then goes straight from the microwave, into your hands, into your mouth.

(What?  Not sold on microwaves, Styrofoam bowls and cabbies? Fine…)

Like I said before, Punjabi serves one of the cheapest meals in the city. How cheap? You can get fatty samosas with potatoes and peas for $1.

Or, if you’re looking for something more substantial than that, you can order a small bowl of rice with two sides for $3.

I personally have a soft spot for the chickpeas, but pretty much everything I’ve eaten here has been delicious. And here’s another tip: I didn’t find this out until much later but they’ll put yogurt on top if you ask. (Make sure you ask.)

If you get thirsty, wash your meal down with some chai tea. They have two types here: a standard chai and an authentic Indian chai. Obviously, get the real stuff – the flavor is much more robust and full of spice.

And you know what’s the best thing about Punjabi Grocery & Deli? It’s open 24 hours. If your stomach can withstand Indian food at 2AM in the morning, there’s nothing better to soak up all that late night alcohol than a bowl of rice and curry.

Thanks cabbies! You introduced me to a real winner with this one.

Punjabi Grocery & Deli
114 E 1st St
New York, NY 10009
(212) 533-9048

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