photo by AliveStudios.com

Twenty years of growth, quality and hospitality in SoBo

By Kate Jonuska

CHEF PAUL DHANOA’S eyes sparkle when he talks about greens, specifically the organic kale, chard, mustard greens and spinach that make up his “super saag” menu special. Using four greens instead of the traditional spinach, and coconut milk instead of cream, he says, “It’s healthier, it’s vegan, and more importantly, the flavor is amazing. I sell it out every time.”

His wife and co-owner Gurjeet Dhanoa brags, “Paul could make a gourmet meal out of thin air. I think Tandoori Grill stands out for our quality, and that’s all Paul.” The couple have owned and operated Tandoori Grill Indian Restaurant and Bar for the last 20 years.

“I was 24 and he was 25 when we opened this place. We’d just gotten married,” Gurjeet Dhanoa says, adding that they now have a preteen son and strong roots in South Boulder. “Now we know our customers. They’re our friends or the friends of our staff and they come by the restaurant to catch up.”

Tandoori Grill owners Paul and Gurjeet Dhanoa (photo by AliveStudios.com)

To be fair, they surely also come for the food, which includes a roster of top-notch modern Indian staples like chicken tikka masala and lamb vindaloo (both $15.99), the latter offered with Colorado lamb when possible. Also on offer are bold, creative choices like the chili tandoori chicken ($15.99) cooked with onions, bell peppers and green chilies and tossed in a spicy secret sauce. There’s a daily lunch buffet ($10.79 plus tax) loaded with vegetarian and meat options, as well as desserts, salads, chutneys, naan and tandoori chicken.

Specials, however, are where Tandoori Grill truly shines. “With our specials, you’re going to find food you won’t find anywhere else,” says Paul Dhanoa, listing off a few recent favorites: mussels in a masala sauce, tamarind duck and ribeye-steak or fresh salmon cooked that secret chili-style in the tandoor.
Speaking of creativity, don’t be surprised to find organic greens, eggplant or Brussels sprouts in Tandoori Grill’s vegetable pakora ($4.99/2), an appetizer held together with chickpea batter, deep-fried to a crisp and served with a thick, delicious tamarind dipping sauce. Paul Dhanoa often picks up whatever greenery is the freshest and loves to spice the menu up, as with that “super saag” special that flies out the door like Superman.

Similarly, the Grill’s paneer cheese and yogurt are made in-house, as is every samosa, and the restaurant has not one, but two tandoor ovens. One is for meats and one for breads, meaning the naan is vegetarian as well as fragrant and delicious.

“Quality is key. We make your food only when you order it,” says Gurjeet Dhanoa, proud of the neighborhood fixture they’ve honed together over the last two decades. “It’s cooked fresh every time, and people keep coming back year after year.”

Both for the food and the friendship, of course.

Next Door to the Tandoors

The Dhanoas also hold the key to South Boulder’s best-kept nightlife secret in the form of the South Boulder Speakeasy, a 30-seat bar and event venue next door to the main Tandoori Grill. (“South Boulder Speakeasy” on Facebook.)

“We do live music in here. We’ve had comedy hours,” says Paul Dhanoa, who serves a special bar menu at the Speakeasy that includes pizza naan, beef and feta samosas, and calamari pakoras. “This has been here about seven years and we’ve just let it fly under the radar. Word spreads and people come to us.”

The venue is truly a hidden gem, intentionally lacking signage except for a schedule of public events posted on the door in order to play with that speakeasy sense of secrecy, no password necessary! Check Facebook for live music, trivia and other events open to the public.

Tandoori Grill Indian Restaurant and Bar
619 S. Broadway, Boulder
303-543-7339
www.tandoorgrillboulder.com
Lunch daily from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Dinner weeknights 5-9:30 p.m.,
Fri. and Sat., 5-10 p.m., Sun. 5-9 p.m.