There is no shortage of options for ethnic dining in Tempe, but frankly, we've grown tired of the grunge factor in many of the establishments near Arizona State. We're not saying these places are dirty -- and many do serve good food -- but let's just say the shine is off the Buddha at some of our neighborhood's Asian options. And we've been to more than one East Indian joint that's seen better days.
The other night, we urged our dining companion to try something new -- and even got him in the door of a Korean/Japanese spot we'd never tried, only to have him literally flee the place for its Windex smell, fluorescent lights and white-tiled bareness. (OK, and the prominent presence of octopus on the menu didn't help, either.)
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"Can't we just go to The Dhaba?" he whined.
We happily complied.
Not only is the food top-notch at this inviting little spot tucked into the India Plaza near Apache and McClintock (our critic Michele Laudig's raved about it plenty, and the menu is fun reading), the atmosphere is superb.
As evening moved into night, large families relaxed around big, carved wooden tables we'd love to have in our own dining room. Instead of an aging bowl of fennel seeds, we sat down to candlelight, an assortment of sauces pretty enough to photograph (so we did) and platters of great food.