Last week I was googling for a good and cheap place to eat in Portland and I came across the Bollywood Theater website.
The first thing I checked was their menu and it got my attention right away. Their menu is nothing like any Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to, but the dishes rung authentic to India. Having spent so much time in India myself, and even learned some Indian cooking when I lived there, I had heard of most of these dishes but hadn’t actually tried them as they were all mostly “Indian street food.”
The pav bhaji and the vada pav, two different potato “patties” between buns, I know are a few favorites of Indian locals and often found in street stands along the Mumbai promenades. Not really found in restaurants at all. So, right off, this place got my attention.
I continued reading the menu and was glad to find the thali dishes and authentic Indian drinks like “thumbs up” and “limca” (the coke and sprite of India), and lassi (yogurt drink), one of my favorites.
They also serve beer, wine and cocktails.
Josh and I decided to head over there. They have two locations open now, the original one is located in northeast Portland within the Alberta District. The second location, with retail market, is located in SE Division St, in southeast Portland.
The second location just opened in February 2014, and it is the one we went to. It is a lot more spacious, boasting 4,000 square feet plus an outdoor patio perfect for summertime.
As soon as we entered, the place was unique, interesting, and greatly thought out. I loved it right away. A few things that stood out were the framed photographs, the Bollywood posters, the mismatched chairs, the hanging lanterns and the screen playing an oldie Bollywood film.
You order at the counter, you get a number, and your food is brought to you wherever you choose to sit.
What we ordered:
- draft beer
- chicken curry thali meal which included saffron rice, sambar (vegetable, tamarind and pigeon pea stew), dal, raita, paratha (Indian flatbread with ghee) and green chutney. $13
- mango lassi $3
- vada pav (a spicy potato dumpling dipped in chickpea batter and fried. Served on a roll with chutneys. The “Poor Man’s Burger” of Mumbai) $3
- a side of rice (saffron scented basmati) $2
- a side of beets (roasted with coconut milk and curry leaves) $5.50
We both loved that the dishes were all stainless steel, which is what you will find in India everywhere.
The verdict: it was yummy. We pretty much cleaned our plates and didn’t leave hungry. I slurped every bit of my mango lassi and ate every bit of my vada pav. The food was not hot. It had a spicy touch but just enough to taste India and enjoy the food without sniffling.
The one thing we were missing was our beloved naans, a delicious baked Indian flatbread found in every Indian restaurant. We love naan, but since the theme of the restaurant is street food, I guess naan doesn’t belong, but I would make the exception! We only had a few bites of the paratha because we could totally taste the “grease” in it and we didn’t feel like our bodies would’ve appreciate it later.
They also don’t serve any desserts. I would love to see some authentic Indian sweets available such as barfi, but until then, Salt & Straw is just down the street (SE location) where you can satisfy your sweet tooth with some of Portland’s best ice cream.
Bollywood Theater, PDX
Hours of operation: 11a.m. to 10p.m., daily.