Yelp in Indianapolis is awesome. It’s this great community of people who strive to give recognition to restaurants and businesses that earn their 5 stars. Yelp Indy’s ambassador Britt put together an amazing event last week at Spice Nation, where dozens of Yelp Elites (those that are active and review often) met to enjoy a night of Indian food and fun.
Spice Nation is located just north of 38th Street on Lafayette Avenue. That area, Lafayette Square, is a cultural mecca of restaurants and grocery stories. The New York Times even wrote about it – here you’ll find African, Ethopian, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and pretty much any other ethnicity you can think of translated by our human love of food.
Enter the parking lot and you’ll find a sign for Spice Nation at the top of a building with several other businesses in it. You have to walk through two automatic doors into what seems like a long hallway with doors on each side for different businesses. On the right you’ll find Spice Nation, and on the left you’ll find Sai’s Boutique & Gifts.
We started out at Sai’s Boutique & Gifts to get wrapped in silk, adorned with bangles and photographed prior to entering the restaurant. I couldn’t believe the patience of the two ladies who dressed all of the attendees. (Brittany, Me, Twinkle, Kristy, photo credit to my friend Eric at Solar Flare Photography)
After that we entered Spice Nation.
Spice Nation opened up their lunch buffet to us. We did not try food from their regular menu, but that probably worked out best for our large group. DJ Kyle Long was spinning Indian tunes that you couldn’t not move to, and the place was hoppin’ with hungry Yelpers who were eager to learn about Indian food. When asked how many people were visiting for the first time, a majority of people raised their hands.
The owners and staff welcomed us with open arms and greatly appreciated that we were there. It was a very nice gesture of them to allow such a large group to take up half of their restaurant, but they knew that we all would review our experience online and that kind of marketing is worth solid gold.
Spice Nation is Indianapolis’ only all vegetarian restaurant. They also have several vegan options and the items are designated as such on the menu. The buffet held about 12 different dishes we could try and everything was labeled, but what I saw and what I read didn’t always make the neurological connection for me to know WHAT it really was, or rather if I would like it. So I had to leave a lot of inhibitions out the window with this place. It was about trying and exploring, two things I love to do!
My plate consisted of rice with a green pepper and onion spicy sauce on top, noodles with small vegetables, roasted spiced potatoes, and a cup of fried rice with vegetables. A lot of starch, but some of the dishes were really wet and I wasn’t sure how that would work on one plate, so I made a mental note to go back for more.
Spice Thermometer: When there was heat with a dish, there was heat, but nothing was too much, and that’s saying a lot since I don’t usually like a lot of spicy food. My nose did sweat but I kind of liked it because it reminded me that I was trying something different.
As we were eating, the staff brought out baskets of fresh and hot garlic naan bread. My friend Twinkle put colorful dipping sauces in small bowls for us to try with the naan. All of them had a cooling effect on the spicy food we were eating.
Another delicacy was brought out – dosas, which were like thin crepes stuffed with potatoes and spices. Not much to them but a nice snack when you’re waiting on your food to arrive.
Then there was this bread the size of your head, but it was really filled with air and almost melted in your mouth when you took a bite because it was so thin and sweet. Another nice snack. Puri is deep fried and is usually eaten for breakfast or as a snack in India.
A plate of these peppers stuffed with a peanut sauce and then fried were a huge hit and a nice mix of sweet with heat.
I had so much fun eating with friends and meeting new people at Yelp Indy’s event. I can’t wait for the next party to see where we are going to go and I can’t wait to go back to Spice Nation with Rahul and other friends. Now that I know what to expect, I’m excited to order off of their regular menu.
If I could offer you three tips, here’s what I would say:
1. It’s okay to not know what you’re eating – if it tastes good and there are no perceivable allergies to worry about, then just open wide and enjoy!
2. Try the chai tea after your meal and get the one with almond milk – it’s so tasty!
3. Go for a lunch buffet so you can try lots of things to figure out what you like.
Also, this happened – I put my bindi on Dollar. Too cute not to share.