Hidden between Moe’s and Dominos, this brand-new restaurant wouldn’t seem like the top choice for a time and cash pressed college student. But, while pizza and burritos are great for some meals, sometimes you want a little more bang for your buck. Literally. And this is why the Shalimar Curry House might be the smartest business ploy since Moe’s Monday.
Indian food isn’t something that is readily available around USC, unless you have a car and an hour or so to spare. But if you don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a long conversation, or if your wallet is really feeling those past couple of weekends on the town, then Shalimar is the perfect choice.
Walking in, you notice one thing very quickly: the place is tiny. A serving counter, much like the kind found in Chipotle or Moe’s, barely leaves enough room for a couple of two-person tables and a cash register. This isn’t a place that’s designed for slow service. Which is why it’s perfect for busy college kids. The aromas circling the room leave you feeling like you just walked into Mumbai.
Shalimar offers two different combination choices: A bowl, or a plate. The plate offers more food, and is a little more expensive, but both are under ten dollars. You choose your option, and your protein. I would suggest the lamb, which is a dollar more, but definitely worth it, because it is a very sweet meat (Paneer, a type of Indian cheese, is offered for the vegetarian crowd). On top of the meat, you get a sauce, made of broth, spices, and curried vegetables. All of this sits on a bed of rice, which means that by the time you finish the whole thing, you practically have to roll back to your dorm. Totally worth it. Add ons, like a samosa and a soda, bring your total to about nine dollars, and you can even get mango ice cream.
I found that the food was just spicy enough, without overpowering the taste of the herbs or vegetables. Everything was well cooked, and though it was prepared on spot, it didn’t taste as if it had been sitting there all night. The samosas were some of the best I’ve ever had, sweet and crisp, with plenty of delicious filling.
For the price, you won’t find better Indian food. And though Shalimar isn’t the place to sit down and relax, this doesn’t take away from the overall atmosphere. Take some friends, and then take your food to the Horseshoe to sit in the sun and have an impromptu picnic, or stop by on your way to an all night study session at T-Coop. I just hope the line doesn’t get too long.
Location: 631 Main Street, Columbia, SC, 29201
Hours of Operation: Sun-Sat: 11:30am-9:00pm