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Curryosity serves South Asia in South Park

“It’s like eating at the Taj Mahal, but set in, like, New York.”

Senorita in a sari welcomes you from her scooter.
Senorita in a sari welcomes you from her scooter.

Hot curry on a cold night? I think so.

Besides, this place, as the day fades and the lights start winking on, just calls my name. “Come in! Get warm! Taste the chutney, the curry, down an Indian beer!” You have to go up the sloping ramp on Juniper, here in South Park, to make it into this low, welcoming space. It’s filled with Indian-style cut-out metal lights, decorative screens, a broad, shiny wooden bar, and an inside-outside porch area that’s strung with artificial ivy and has you looking straight down onto the sidewalk, across Juniper, and into South Park’s venerable Book Catapult bookstore.

Place

Curryosity

3023 Juniper St, San Diego

I’ve always wanted to come in here, but I was always on the way to somewhere else, someplace like that bookstore. Not tonight. Tonight, I get hooked by the clever name: Curryosity. And now’s the perfect time to eat. It’s not crowded, but you can feel a drift of people towards the place. Ah. It’s because they’re talking about happy hour. An Indian happy hour! Cool.

Chutney choice: tamarind, mint, mango, red hot spicy.

The restaurant has a ton of nooks and crannies inside that I’d like to snuggle into. Gal’s standing at the welcoming podium right beside a mural of a smiling Indian señorita riding a scooter in pink sari and stilettos. I end up at the counter that sets you almost outside and slump into a luxurious Indian chair. Zach says they’re a little short-handed, so it could be a bit before they get to me. That’s okay: happy hour has half an hour to go, and besides, I like taking my time. Eating Indian in South Park feels new, even though I know they have been open at least three years. I text my friend. “Diana! Discovery! You’ll love it! It’s like eating at the Taj Mahal, but set in, like, New York.”

And truly, all the exotica on the walls, and all the cool couples picking at platefuls of wings in curry, cheese samosas, and chicken fritters marinated with spices make for, okay, maybe not the world’s healthiest food, but beautiful indulgences you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see in South Park.

Happy Hour diners eat on balcony.

First, while he’s still here, Zach talks drinks. They have beer and wine. Hmm. I want to go for these beers, because they’re actually Indian. Taj Mahal, Flying Horse, brands straight from the subcontinent. Nice big 24-ounce bottles too, $10 each. On the other hand, they have HH pints for $5 (HH lasts from 3-5pm every day). Hard to beat. I ask for that — forget to ask the brand — and do a quick check of other HH offerings. Hmm. Guess I’ll go for the Epic Curry Wings. Here you have a big choice among curries: masala (“Britain’s national curry”), vindaloo, (pork, garlic, red wine), mango-saffron, sweet chili, honey-spiced (sweet and smoky tandoori), and tangy tamarind. I know I should choose something more exciting, but I go for the masala. I just like the creamy-curry-coriander flavor. And it can’t just be me. Make no mistake, Indian curry has been around for years. “Masala” basically means “mixed.” And these guys were mixing curries (including some from an actual curry tree) for like 4000 years (some say) before the first Europeans arrived. No wonder they look at us as Johnny-Come-Latelies. Although their masala was probably nothing like today’s, with its tomato purée, cream, and coconut cream, it has still become the most-eaten take-out there. These days, it’s called the Great British Dish. Fish and chips? Fuggedabout it! No contest.

And I notice they do seem to have Indianized versions of standard dishes, like the naan and smoked salmon with capers, herbs, and spice ($9). Or the chicken tikka poutine. Sounds Canadian-style ($10). Or the curry mac’n cheese ($8).

One of the best things I do with this meal is mix everything with the chutneys. They are great with the wheat chips, but even greater with the curry wings: they add an extra tang. I get the tamarind, the green and peppery mint, the cool and sweet mango, and the really hot spicy sauce. For $8, you get four wings “baked in our clay oven” on low flame to seal in the flavor, “flash-fried to order, then curried and tossed to finish.” The four wings really are juicy, curry-rich, and best when you add a dip into the peppery green mint sauce.

Indian beers a-plenty. HH pints ar $5, large bottles, $10.

I end up ordering an extra, non-HH beer, the Flying Horse, out of Bangalore, in southern India. Honestly, it’s a nice lager, but nothing totally Indian in it that I can taste. Specially after the hops you get from an IPA (India Pale Ale) like Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.

Still, I really like this place. They have made a big effort at atmosphere, and now that I look further down the menu, I’m seeing non-happy hour things I’ve got to try: the curry fries to kick the meal off ($6), the Curryosity mussels ($10), and a split of a “12-hour marinated rack of lamb with ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric and olive oil” for, okay, $28. If Diana comes, we can share. Or, if they have a lamb curry on special, I’ll go for that at any price.

Oh, and the menu says if I get up and do an “Indian dance move” in front of everybody, I will receive a free “poppin’ papadam” that normally costs $2. Huh. Maybe I should assign that job to Diana — if she shows up.

  • The Place: Curryosity, 3023 Juniper Street, South Park, 619-255-0660
  • Hours: 3-9.30pm, Monday to Friday; 11:30am-10pm Saturdays; 11:30am-9:30pm Sundays
  • Prices: Epic curry wings with e.g. masala curry, $8; curry fries, $6; Curryosity mussels, $10), 12-hour marinated rack of lamb, $28; samosa slim (2 veggie turnovers), $5 happy hour; chutney sampler, $5; bhel puri (puffed rice, potatoes($5); Curryosity fried chicken fritters, $5 HH; shrimp pakora, $10; Curryosity mussels, $10; chicken Tikka poutine, $10; karma soup, veggie or chicken, with coconut and lentil, $9
  • Bus: 2
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 30th and Juniper
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“I see other women do this, too.”
Senorita in a sari welcomes you from her scooter.
Senorita in a sari welcomes you from her scooter.

Hot curry on a cold night? I think so.

Besides, this place, as the day fades and the lights start winking on, just calls my name. “Come in! Get warm! Taste the chutney, the curry, down an Indian beer!” You have to go up the sloping ramp on Juniper, here in South Park, to make it into this low, welcoming space. It’s filled with Indian-style cut-out metal lights, decorative screens, a broad, shiny wooden bar, and an inside-outside porch area that’s strung with artificial ivy and has you looking straight down onto the sidewalk, across Juniper, and into South Park’s venerable Book Catapult bookstore.

Place

Curryosity

3023 Juniper St, San Diego

I’ve always wanted to come in here, but I was always on the way to somewhere else, someplace like that bookstore. Not tonight. Tonight, I get hooked by the clever name: Curryosity. And now’s the perfect time to eat. It’s not crowded, but you can feel a drift of people towards the place. Ah. It’s because they’re talking about happy hour. An Indian happy hour! Cool.

Chutney choice: tamarind, mint, mango, red hot spicy.

The restaurant has a ton of nooks and crannies inside that I’d like to snuggle into. Gal’s standing at the welcoming podium right beside a mural of a smiling Indian señorita riding a scooter in pink sari and stilettos. I end up at the counter that sets you almost outside and slump into a luxurious Indian chair. Zach says they’re a little short-handed, so it could be a bit before they get to me. That’s okay: happy hour has half an hour to go, and besides, I like taking my time. Eating Indian in South Park feels new, even though I know they have been open at least three years. I text my friend. “Diana! Discovery! You’ll love it! It’s like eating at the Taj Mahal, but set in, like, New York.”

And truly, all the exotica on the walls, and all the cool couples picking at platefuls of wings in curry, cheese samosas, and chicken fritters marinated with spices make for, okay, maybe not the world’s healthiest food, but beautiful indulgences you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see in South Park.

Happy Hour diners eat on balcony.

First, while he’s still here, Zach talks drinks. They have beer and wine. Hmm. I want to go for these beers, because they’re actually Indian. Taj Mahal, Flying Horse, brands straight from the subcontinent. Nice big 24-ounce bottles too, $10 each. On the other hand, they have HH pints for $5 (HH lasts from 3-5pm every day). Hard to beat. I ask for that — forget to ask the brand — and do a quick check of other HH offerings. Hmm. Guess I’ll go for the Epic Curry Wings. Here you have a big choice among curries: masala (“Britain’s national curry”), vindaloo, (pork, garlic, red wine), mango-saffron, sweet chili, honey-spiced (sweet and smoky tandoori), and tangy tamarind. I know I should choose something more exciting, but I go for the masala. I just like the creamy-curry-coriander flavor. And it can’t just be me. Make no mistake, Indian curry has been around for years. “Masala” basically means “mixed.” And these guys were mixing curries (including some from an actual curry tree) for like 4000 years (some say) before the first Europeans arrived. No wonder they look at us as Johnny-Come-Latelies. Although their masala was probably nothing like today’s, with its tomato purée, cream, and coconut cream, it has still become the most-eaten take-out there. These days, it’s called the Great British Dish. Fish and chips? Fuggedabout it! No contest.

And I notice they do seem to have Indianized versions of standard dishes, like the naan and smoked salmon with capers, herbs, and spice ($9). Or the chicken tikka poutine. Sounds Canadian-style ($10). Or the curry mac’n cheese ($8).

One of the best things I do with this meal is mix everything with the chutneys. They are great with the wheat chips, but even greater with the curry wings: they add an extra tang. I get the tamarind, the green and peppery mint, the cool and sweet mango, and the really hot spicy sauce. For $8, you get four wings “baked in our clay oven” on low flame to seal in the flavor, “flash-fried to order, then curried and tossed to finish.” The four wings really are juicy, curry-rich, and best when you add a dip into the peppery green mint sauce.

Indian beers a-plenty. HH pints ar $5, large bottles, $10.

I end up ordering an extra, non-HH beer, the Flying Horse, out of Bangalore, in southern India. Honestly, it’s a nice lager, but nothing totally Indian in it that I can taste. Specially after the hops you get from an IPA (India Pale Ale) like Stone’s Arrogant Bastard.

Still, I really like this place. They have made a big effort at atmosphere, and now that I look further down the menu, I’m seeing non-happy hour things I’ve got to try: the curry fries to kick the meal off ($6), the Curryosity mussels ($10), and a split of a “12-hour marinated rack of lamb with ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric and olive oil” for, okay, $28. If Diana comes, we can share. Or, if they have a lamb curry on special, I’ll go for that at any price.

Oh, and the menu says if I get up and do an “Indian dance move” in front of everybody, I will receive a free “poppin’ papadam” that normally costs $2. Huh. Maybe I should assign that job to Diana — if she shows up.

  • The Place: Curryosity, 3023 Juniper Street, South Park, 619-255-0660
  • Hours: 3-9.30pm, Monday to Friday; 11:30am-10pm Saturdays; 11:30am-9:30pm Sundays
  • Prices: Epic curry wings with e.g. masala curry, $8; curry fries, $6; Curryosity mussels, $10), 12-hour marinated rack of lamb, $28; samosa slim (2 veggie turnovers), $5 happy hour; chutney sampler, $5; bhel puri (puffed rice, potatoes($5); Curryosity fried chicken fritters, $5 HH; shrimp pakora, $10; Curryosity mussels, $10; chicken Tikka poutine, $10; karma soup, veggie or chicken, with coconut and lentil, $9
  • Bus: 2
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 30th and Juniper
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