see how i (just barely) resisted the temptation to pun cali and thali? see how i’ve grown? revel (with appropriate restraint) in my good taste! drink from the cup of my judgement! feast like starving urine-soaked urchins upon my Brief Rundown Of “$5.00 Thali” Joints!
*note* i don’t think any of these places (with the possible exception of Pushap) still sell their thalis for a cool five bones. generally it ranges from $5-6.50, and unless you’re getting something special, you gotta put your foot down when they break the $7 barrier, because that shit is uncalled for. note also that this is veg thali. you blood-drinkers gotta handle your own.
Bombay Mahal (1001 rue Jean-Talon Ouest, corner Birnam) – pretty good, although not totally consistent. i’ve had some top notch thali here, like times when it fully feels like it is get increasingly spicier ~as you are eating it~, but on some other ill-fated and weather battered afternoons i have encountered (to my dismay) some lukewarm, uninspired and indistinct curries. pick your battles, i guess. there’s another Bombay Mahal somewhere, but i ain’t been so i ain’t got shit to say.
Jolee (5495 avenue Victoria, coin Cote Ste Catherine) – my first introduction to South Indian food/that there is a difference between north and south Indian food, and it totally rules (the difference, south Indian in general, this place in particular).
optional levels of spiciness, although i’m suspicious that honkey requests for “very hot” go patronizingly unheeded (which equally rankles and impresses me). basic thali comes with 3-4 kinds of curry and small salad, rice, a somewhat paltry serving of naan, and a pappadum. definitely scope out some of the specifically south indian dishes- such as string hopper thali (like a basic thali but with a pile of a dozen or so weird little rice-flour-noodle-pancakes in lieu of rice and naan. and i mean, i likes my rice and naan, but this is a nice change of pace), various veda (basically daals deep-fried into donut shapes), and something the name of which i do not recall, but basically resembled a pancake massively stuffed with onion and spices, which was not in face a dosa, nor anything like, despite descriptive homologousness. tried the idly and can’t remember what they’re like, save that my mind was not blown, and much as it pains me to say, because generally i have not but accolades for the place, the onion bhaji are a little bready, so go for the pakora.
(further note: dosa are big-ass crepes made out of a mix of fermented rice and lentil flower, usually roller into a tube stuffed with channa or some other such deliciousness. comes with some manner of sambal or deceptively soup-like dipping sauce.)
India Beau Village (6925 Avenue du Parc, just other side of Van Horne) some people swear by this place, but those people are mooks, and generally should not be suffered. a friend once compared their samosas to Indian chef boyardee in a pizza pocket, and while i didn’t find them so bad, i can sympathize with the general sentiment of derision. slightly overpriced and slightly undergood, i’m not above giving them another chance, but when in the neighbourhood, i’d rather hoof the extra 10 mins for something more reliable (ie: Bombay or Maison)
Pushap (5195 rue Paré. go to Namur Metro/Jean Talon-Decarie autoroute area, turn up at the SPCA and you’ll hit it in a block or two) – this is the “home” of the $5.00 thali for me, the first, and for a long time, the only. until i realized the bounty of Plamondon and Parc X, but still, it’s an old favorite to which i regularly return, even if it’s not amazing. it is, however, damn good, and one has all manner of options when ordering – dairy or non dairy (supposedly they use vegan friendly vegetable ghee), lentil or channa daal, naan fried or not (always go for the fried). also they regularly throw in free deserts and sometimes even free pakora for an app, when there’s a goodly number of you!
highlights: 3 samosa/$1 or 5(?) pakora/$1, takeout only, and probably the most delicious spicey tamarind sauce for dipping. also, an integral part of the mighty $7.00 date: dinner at Pushap, shopping at Village des Valeurs, and a film at (now two) Dollar Cinema. there’s also a Pushap on Jean Talon (975), but again, i’ve never been.
i’ve also been to this place in Plamondon called something to the effect of Sagimeh, that was i believe south Indian/Sri Lankan, and it was a really weird experience, like eating in an empty banquet hall and being served by old women and children, but the food was interesting and distinct enough to make me consider going back.
…strictly for the weather, the women, and the weed. of course.