I have been eager to try Lahore Tikka House since moving to Leslieville several months ago and I recently had the opportunity to do so. This Gerrard Street East landmark has been serving Torontonians for over 25 years. We walked to the popular North Indian/Pakistani restaurant since it’s so close to my house and were surprised to find, not only the patio, but the interior of the restaurant already bustling with happy diners at 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening.
The patio at Lahore Tikka House on Gerrard St. E. was quite busy on this hot and humid evening.
Inside, there is a large main room with additional space on the second floor. In the summer, a tent is erected as an extension to the restaurant. We chose to dine in the tent as it seemed novel and our server informed us that the tent closes down in late September.
We looked around and observed many families and groups sharing huge plates of kabobs, biryani and naan. This is not a fancy restaurant by any stretch of the imagination. While tables in the main room are a little more sophisticated, the tent featured patio chairs and tables. Please be forewarned that you will be using styrofoam cups and plastic cutlery, but this is part of the fun of Lahore Tikka House, and also one of the reasons they can offer fabulous dishes at rock-bottom prices.
Our server informed us that we were to write down our order on a palette and take it to the counter. He cheerily answered all of our questions about the dishes and took our drink order (Lahore Tikka House is not licensed). Two of my dining partners opted for the Mango Lassi, $3.50. I had a sip and loved the fruity mango flavour. I asked our server what the ingredients were and he informed me the Mango Lassi is made of fresh mango and milk. I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much since I don’t drink milk. There is another version you can have that is made with yogourt.
One of my dining partners does not like curry and wondered if there was anything on the menu that wasn’t too spicy. Our server recommended Two Beef Kabobs and Chicken Tikka with rice, $12.25. The beef and chicken were mildly spiced with coriander, cayenne, cumin and garam masala and were served with a huge portion of fragrant basmati rice. My dining partner enjoyed this dish and noted that the beef kabobs were quite tender.
Another dining partner opted for Chicken Tikka with rice, $11.49. This is another good choice if you don’t like your food too spicy. There was a good portion of chicken in a mildly-spiced marinade.
A third dining partner ordered the Mixed Vegetable Biryani, $10.99, that includes chickpeas, lentils and basmati rice. This dish was heavily spiced with cumin, cayenne and chilli and topped with fresh coriander. She loved the hot and spicy flavour, but the portion was too large to finish.
I decided on the Combination Plate that includes Chana Masala (chickpeas), Tarka Dal (lentils), Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potatoes) and Palak (spinach), $12.75. Huge portion aside, this dish was quite spicy, in particular the Chana Masala and Tarka Dal. Fortunately, the potatoes and spinach were more delicately spiced and provided balance to this otherwise fiery meal.
We ordered both the Garlic Naan, $2.25 and the Tandoor Naan, $1.50 to soak up some of the spices. If you enjoy naan, make sure you order the Garlic Naan. It’s light, crispy and pungent with garlic…some of the best naan I’ve ever tasted. The Tandoor Naan was thicker and less memorable.
The restaurant’s decor is kitschy, yet appealing. We saw this settee adorned with colourful silks in the main room.
The portions were so large, that three of us ended up taking ours home for leftovers the next day. We loved the party vibe in Lahore Tikka House’s tent. Dining there is like one communal picnic. I’m glad we finally discovered what the buzz at Lahore Tikka House was all about!