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Photo by Stephanie Allen

Eat globally, locally

Expand your horizons on food by trying one of several ethnic restaurants near school on East Lake Street

There’s more than DQ and Dunn. Bros. within two miles of Minnehaha near East Lake Street. Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and try some foreign food? Is your idea of exotic the “extra spicy” wings? Or is it octopus tentacles? Even conservative eaters will find plenty of unique restaurants nearby to enjoy and experiment with. Just the experience of going to a lesser-known restaurant and discovering different styles of cooking offers adventure. Next time you feel like running to SuperAmerica or Taco Bell, try one of the following restaurants instead.

Gandhi Mahal

Address: 
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Cuisine: Indian
Price Range: $1-20
Favorite dish: Delhi tikka masala
Atmosphere: Formal 
Rating: 4 out of 5 feathers

 

Here’s a restaurant everyone should try for the great food and cultural atmosphere: Gandhi Mahal. One step into this Indian-themed restaurant and you already smell a multitude of spices from the food being cooked in the back. The decoration is lovely and makes you feel like you’ve walked into India itself.

A simple, yet flavorful and flexible meal is the Delhi tikka masala, which is a creamy tomato sauce that is paired with your choice of meat. I would recommend pairing chicken with this dish and ordering a side ofNan, a type offreshly baked bread, to dip in the leftover sauce. Another favorite of mine was their lamb, which is loaded with spices that stand out boldly at first, but meld together well.

To taste of a variety of their dishes at a reasonable price, the buffet is definitely the way to go if you can get there while there is still some left.

Even though all the food I tried there was tasty, I would suggest staying away from the appetizers because they were small and not worth the money. I’ll definitely be returning during the summer to try their Shikh kebabs and outdoor seating.

 

Midori’s Floating World Cafe

Address: 2629 E. Lake St.
Cuisine: Japanese
Price Range: $5-20
Favorite dish: Takoyaki
Atmosphere: Exotic
Rating: 5 out of 5 feathers 

 

Midori’s Floating World Café is by no means intimidating, but I found myself nervous as I took a seat at one of their tables because the first thing I noticed was the lack of silverware. On a napkin lay my worst nightmare: chopsticks. I’ve never been able to use them, and still now am not passable.

Photo by Stephanie Allen
Photo by Stephanie Allen

But chopsticks weren’t a problem because Midori’s accommodates both customers who can and can’t use chopsticks by serving finger- friendly meals and providing spoons for some components such as soup.

They hold a variety of lower- priced appetizers and a long list of beverages to choose from if you feel like spending less, but my favorites include any one of their tempura dishes; meat and vegetables covered in a fried batter. Surprisingly, there was little grease and it comes with a sauce that makes every bite heavenly. And who knew octopus could be so delicious? Try their Takoyaki and see for yourself how Midori’s can make even an octopus tentacle taste good.

If you want plenty of food, I would suggest any one of their Bento Box combinations. Watch out for the shrimp tails, though, I may have swallowed one or two of  those by accident!

But remember your wallets and purses because this great meal won’t come cheap, but since when has authentic Japanese food ever been inexpensive?

They also have vegetarian/ vegan, organic, and gluten-free options available as well. Midori’s decorations and presentation of the meals are exquisite and full of detail. Attentive and friendly serv- ers also made the entire visit even more enjoyable. After the meal, all I wanted to do was sleep off this outstanding meal.

 

El Norteno

Address: 4000 E. Lake St.
Cuisine: Mexican
Price Range: $5-15
Favorite dish: Guacamole
Atmosphere: Family-friendly 
Rating: 2 out of 5 feathers

 

When I first entered the El Norteño Café, I thought it was closed. At first glance, all I saw was their small deli with a variety of Mexican spices and a few lonely cartons of milk sitting on display. When they led me to their colorful dining area, I seemed to remember that I

Photo by Stephanie Allen
Photo by Stephanie Allen

was in a restaurant. Large plants dominated the corners of the room and colorful wallpaper added to the authentic atmosphere. But once I ordered some of their food, I didn’t feel myself being impressed anymore.

Despite their extensive menu, their use of spices and flavors was pretty minimal. The one upside to my meal was their guacamole, which was surprisingly good and injected a little flavor back into the meal. Otherwise, their other options really aren’t mentioning.

So, if one day you find yourself craving some Mexican cuisine, then this restaurant would be an appropriate substitute for the everyday Taco Bell drive-through.

Or, if you feel like visiting their larger restaurant farther down the road and braving the seemingly endless stoplights, I’d suggest leav- ing before rush hour sets in and traffic becomes completely unbearable.

Despite the lack of flavoring, El Norteño could be a good place to introduce Mexican food to young kids, who won’t be as judgemental of El Norteño.

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