Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Post You've All Been Waiting for: Indian food coming to the Heights

This summer, Garden Oaks/Oak Forest got the thing the Heights has been longing for, asking for more than anything else. When Govinda's Vegetarian Restaurant opened in early July at the Hare Krishna Temple on 34th Street, the near-loop-orbit neighborhood got Indian food. 

"Well, that's it," we thought. With Govinda's close enough, we were going to settle for it. It's better than none, right? But the dream never really died. Say what you want about us, but Heights people like to stay in the Heights when they can. Govinda's was closer, but not close enough. It didn't satiate the Indian-I-can-ride-my-bike-to desire of the community. 

And luckily now all the settling and trying not to be disappointed can be short-lived! After years of asking, begging, wishing, and even being faked out, this is the post you've all been waiting for. 

We are getting a 
real life Indian restaurant 
right in the actual Heights! 

Tarka Indian Kitchen is bringing its award-winning Indian cuisine to the Heights. The lease is signed and the build out has begun. The Austin-based casual Indian restaurant, which currently has four locations in Austin and another in San Antonio, will open in the Heights on 19th at Shepherd early next year. It joins Ka Sushi, Fat Cat Creamery, and Hugs & Donuts in ReVive Development's strip along the north side of 19th. They will be housed in the new building, just west of the rehabbed strip holding these other neighborhood favorites. When constructing the building, the developer was able to save the huge oak tree on the property, which will be incorporated in to Tarka's outdoor seating area. 

Tarka's Chicken Tikka Masala
Image: Tarka Indian Kitchen

Shrimp Biryani
Image: Tarka Indian Kitchen

Tarka serves "Fresh + Fast + Flavorful Indian cuisine" including classics like curries, kabobs, biryanis, and freshly baked flatbreads, plus modern offerings like Naanini sandwiches. The Heights location will offer specialty drinks like Mango Lemonade, Fruity Lassis, plus wine and beer. They will also be a welcome addition to our too-small take out selection with online and mobile ordering via their website and their own iPhone ordering app. Lovely side note: restaurant has been recognized as a Green business for its packaging and commitment to recycling, as well. 
“We are very excited to bring Tarka to Houston, said Tarka CEO & co-founder Tinku Saini. “Our fresh take to Indian food is perfect for the Bayou City.” He said Tarka is actively looking for additional locations throughout Houson and the surrounding area. “We look forward to joining Houston’s vibrant and diverse community.” 
“Tarka offers a faster, more casual alternative to Indian food, without sacrificing quality, flavor and freshness,” said Executive Chef Navdeep Singh. 
People can see their meal being cooked fresh-to-order from an open kitchen that features a beautiful copper hood. The fresh approach is instilled in the name Tarka, which translates into the sizzle of freshly sautéed ingredients. 
“You know that sound you hear when garlic, ginger and other fresh ingredients hit a hot pan? That sizzling sound, that amazing aroma, that’s Tarka,” said Chef Singh. This fresh approach can also be seen in Tarka’s popular Indian flatbreads.  
“Our dough is made fresh in house, everyday, and we bake our bread fresh to order for our guests, so you won’t get fresher bread anywhere,” he added.

Design plans include a modern dining room with plush booths, hand blown glass pendants, and photographs of Indian street scenes and food. Vibrant Indian music will fill the space.  Add the shaded patio under a beautiful, old oak--- sounds like some Heights residents will soon find their personal version of nirvana.

While some people may be skeptical of a chain, this Texas-based restaurant has accolades to combat that cynicism. Last year, Zagat named Tarka #2 on their list of Top Fast Casual Restaurant Chains in Austin; Austin Chronicle readers voted Tarka #14 on their Favorite Restaurant List in 2012 and also honored Tarka as most successful spin-off in 2010 and Best Takeout in 2011 and 2012. In 2016, the restaurant was also named Runner Up Best Indian in San Antonio by Express News Readers just 18 months after opening.

We've been asking and someone finally heard us.  This is happening, people!

To keep updated, like their Facebook page at 

Garlic Naan
Image: Tarka Indian Kitchen


  1. So excited! It can't come too soon.

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