Sitar Indian Cuisine
Tucked away in a plaza just off 15th Street, a small and unassuming restaurant serves up delicacies that are entirely uncommon in this part of the country. Their typical fare sticks out like a sore thumb among the droves of fast food places and local BBQ joints, and offers a popular metropolitan cuisine that many out-of-states students hold dear. Sitar is the only place in town offering delicious, homemade Indian cuisine. Their menu features traditional entrees, desserts, and multiple kinds of curry with various meats and levels of spice over classic long-grain white rice. When it comes to entrees, the meats used are delicious and high quality with traditional flavorings and preparations. A perfect supplement to this meal is the fresh baked naan, used to sop up the leftover curry or wrap around rice. This, along with a traditional yogurt drink, Lassi, is meant to counteract the spices in the curry.
Any good meal at Sitar begins with their amazing keema samosas, light and flaky pastry shells filled with minced meat, peas, and potatoes and served with sweet and spicy chili sauces.
There are many quiet, hidden gems among the restaurant scene in Tuscaloosa, but none are as highly rated and truly beloved as Antojitos Izcalli. The small restaurant sandwiched between a market and an African hair braiding studio, part of a plaza behind a gas station, is usually filled with equal parts locals and college students chowing down on one of their many delicious dishes. They offer each of their delicious tacos for $2.50 on a traditional corn tortilla, and the selection of meats is more traditional than any other in the area, as they offer not only flavorful al pastor but chicken, chorizo, barbacoa, cow tongue, and even head meat. These meats can also be put in burritos, quesadillas, or any other dishes on the menu. Mexican food is, in general, a widely made cuisine with exceeding variation all over the world. However, Mexican food in its purest form is truly unbeatable. That is exactly what Antojitos is offering: no frills, simple Mexican food that cannot be beat in price or flavor.
From the quesadillas made with fresh queso blanco to the cheap street tacos students purchase by the dozens, all of the dishes at Antojitos’ are traditional, flavorful, fresh, and made with care and love.
DePalma’s is an Italian restaurant that has become a formal dining staple to Tuscaloosa natives and students alike. For 20 years, they have served traditional Italian food, like made-from-scratch pasta, fresh vegetables and sauces. Frequent patrons always look forward to their white chocolate bread pudding and its sweet, rich, warm, soul-filling goodness. Once you’re seated and in
mid-anticipation, there’s always the satisfaction of the aroma of freshly tossed dough, and, if you are in the right place, you can watch the kitchen practice their craft. The pizza on offer is baked in a traditional crust and is coated with a robust sauce, fresh cheese, and any number of delectable and widely varied toppings.
The Italian eatery is known for its generous portions, traditional Italian dishes, and a specialty dessert beloved by all patrons, their white chocolate bread pudding, a lovingly baked bread pudding coated in a white chocolate sauce.
A quaint site at the end of The Strip, this restaurant is located in a converted, eclectic old house, with the rooms remodeled and rearranged into dining rooms usually filled with more adventurous college students. Established in 1991, Ruan Thai was the first Thai restaurant in Tuscaloosa, and has held its own ever since. It’s flavorful and healthy, with food consisting largely of fish, shrimp, chicken, noodles, vegetables, and a specifically Thai form of curry that is a more soupy concoction with coconut milk served over rice. Each dish is served with fresh peppers and herbs straight from the owner’s garden. Their daily curry specials offer a wide variety of meals for reasonable prices, and the unique flavors are enough to draw in new customers and decades-old regulars. One dish that has an amazing presentation along with its rich, almost creamy flavor is the pineapple curry. It is pineapple curry over rice with shrimp, pineapple chunks, tomato, and red bell peppers served in a hollowed-out half pineapple. For a sweet beverage to go with your meal, try one of the restaurant’s specialty juices.
Ruan Thai offers juices that are not commonly found in the South, such as the sweet and refreshing lychee juice that is a favorite of many customers.
Few restaurants are as storied and integral to a community as Mr. Chen’s is to Tuscaloosa. The restaurant and market combination has become a bastion for many students, whether American students trying their hand at a new recipe or exchange students looking for a taste of home. The market provides customers with the necessary ingredients to cook the dishes they grew up with and provides unique and rare ingredients to student chefs and gourmands to use in various dishes. The attached restaurant provides dishes from all over Asia and the unique flavors that come with them. From the spicy cashew chicken in black bean sauce to the unique daily specials, the flavors of multiple Asian cultures are represented well at Mr. Chen’s. Hot pot, a Mr. Chen’s specialty, fits well in any college town populated by students who like to make their meal their way. Any student who has never experienced this method of tableside cooking would be delighted by the flavors and delicious meats offered by Mr. Chen’s hot pots.
The hot pot is the most interesting to many, a boiling hot broth served on a burner tableside that is accompanied by various veggies and meats that you cook yourself to perfection.
Although Vietnamese food has been a delicacy in the United States for decades, new restaurants serving banh mi sandwiches, pan fried noodles and other widely varied and uniquely flavored dishes have been popping up everywhere from California to Florida. Tuscaloosa has its very own mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurant serving up the most authentic forms of Vietnamese food. Located in Midtown, Pho Town is a favorite of UA students who miss the hip cuisine scenes of their hometowns. They make fantastic sandwiches, delicious and refreshing boba teas, and rich, wholesome pho that can heal a sick body and soul. The beef-based broth is filling and refreshing, doing everything it should to warm a cold body. The boba teas, although far less traditional, come in fun and popular varieties. From traditional milk teas to exotic strawberry slushies with pineapple boba, Pho Town has enough variety in their boba selection to satisfy any student’s sweet tooth and refresh them on a hot day.
The pho is generously portioned, and best eaten with fresh lime, bean sprouts, a variety of herbs, fish sauce, generous helping of sriracha hot sauce, and slurped down eagerly with chopsticks and a broth spoon.
Another staple of the ethnic cuisine available in the midtown area of Tuscaloosa, Taziki’s is a modern Greek restaurant with traditional offerings, delicious lamb, and a pleasant ambience. They create gyros, delightful spanakopita, and other delicious Greek and Mediterranean meals for reasonable prices in a relaxed casual setting. Their flavorful preparation and quick service make this restaurant a perfect stop for the on-the-go college student looking for a delicious and somewhat-healthy option for lunch. College students, out-of-state visitors and families with picky eaters alike will find eclectic options to fit every diet. The eatery offers daily specials including a Mediterranean twist on Taco Thursday and spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie, every Wednesday night. With its never-ending menu and outstanding customer service, Taziki’s can’t be beat.
Taziki’s is known for its hand-crafted gyros. Patrons can get everything from lamb to Greek salad to beef (seen here) wrapped in a pocket of bread and drizzled in the restaurant’s house-made Taziki sauce.
Tuscaloosa’s take on the German concept of biergartens can be found in the train-station-turned-classy-German-restaurant, 301 Bistro, Bar, and Beer Garden. Located in the bustling downtown area, the restaurant brings traditional German cuisine with rich and homemade flavors to an interesting dining atmosphere. These delicious traditional flavors are bolstered by other menu choices such as the blackened chicken and the herb roasted duck. The meals alone are a fantastic draw to 301, but the elements that truly seal the deal on making the bistro a date night favorite of many students, locals, and even visiting parents are the outdoor beer garden and the upscale cocktail bar. During the summer, the beer garden is a fantastic place to enjoy an afternoon of drink and food with friends. It is truly the total package for customers of all ages and is definitely worth it to splurge on a delicious meal and a fantastic experience.
They offer various authentic dishes, such as wiener schnitzel and a homemade sausage board containing bratwurst, weisswurst, and nurnberger sausages, along with delectable toasts and mustards.