We were looking for a good lunch in Evans, but the search wasn’t going well.
Eggroll Express was takeout only. Rhinehart’s just next door was closed. Cracker Barrel? Too full and busy. Mai Thai—closed too.
But Namaste Indian Street Food, just a few doors down, called to us with its enticing aroma and its cheerful red umbrellas.
The eatery opened in March 2019 and describes itself as the first Indian street food restaurant in the Evans/Augusta area. The menu features some of the usual suspects: savory samosas filled with potatoes, onion and peas; a variety of Indian breads; saucy dishes like vindaloo and tikka masalas; biryani, or rice dishes; and roasted meats such as tandoor chicken or shish kebab.
Then there’s the more unusual: There are plenty of options featuring tender goat meat; lunch thali, including many small dishes with a meat, rice, vegetable curry, bread, dessert and sauces (only available weekdays, or we would have ordered it); Indian-spiced sloppy joes; even a waffle cone filled with meat spiced to your liking, such as vindaloo, tomato garlic, sriracha mayo, sesame, curry mayo, blue cheese and sesame Asian.
I make a butter chicken at home, so when I saw Namaste offered its version (“our street favorite and U.K.’s national dish” proclaims the menu), I had to try it. My husband puzzled over the menu a bit longer; one slightly confusing thing is that not every dish comes automatically with a side like rice, so there were a few minutes of back-and-forth discussion with the cheerful and patient cashier as he decided to order the paneer tikka masala, but with chicken, plus a side of samosas. For my daughter, it was easy, once she heard chicken fingers and fries were on the menu.
We tried to sit outdoors under one of those red umbrellas, but it was too chilly, so we settled into a comfortable booth in the bright restaurant. My daughter’s food arrived first, prettily displayed with a garnish of herb on top. The chicken was tender, with a great crunchy, not-battered crust, the fries were nicely seasoned, and nothing was greasy at all—a big step above most fingers/fries dishes offered for kids. And she liked it so much that she enjoyed the leftovers again at dinner that night.
Our samosas arrived next. With their crisp, flaky crusts and dense fillings, they were probably the best samosas I’ve ever had, and again, were not greasy at all. I enjoyed both the sweet tamarind sauce and the more grassy and fresh green sauce that were served alongside.
I felt like swooning after I had bite of my butter chicken. The sauce was so rich, creamy and sweet, laden with delicate Indian spice that hit your tongue with just a touch of heat at the end. There were big tender chunks of chicken too, but I could have made a meal just with the sauce.
My husband agreed; his tikka masala was similar, but brought a lot more heat and tang.
Both our meals were huge, so much so that we ordered two more containers of rice so that we could enjoy it again for lunch the next day, with more leftover besides.
My only regret? Not trying that waffle cone of chicken. But that just means I’ll have to go back.
Make Your Reservation
Namaste Street Food
4272 Washington Rd., #5A
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
Cost: $8.50 to $15.99
Danielle Wong Moores is a local freelance writer who’ll never turn down a shrimp cocktail, sushi or cheese dip. Her greatest food influences are her mom and writers MFK Fisher and Amanda Hesser. Her Dine and Dish column runs the second and fourth Fridays in The Augusta Press.