The city of Quincy has become one of the top restaurant destinations in the Greater Boston area of late, with a wide variety of dining spots that can be found on or near Hancock Street in Quincy Center, as well as further up Hancock Street in the Wollaston and North Quincy neighborhoods (the latter of which has become a viable alternative to Boston's Chinatown). If you look outside of these three sections of Quincy, however, there are also a number of hidden gems scattered throughout the city. One of these places is located in a nondescript part of Quincy on a busy road (the Southern Artery) that can seem a bit hectic at times, but Punjab Cafe is certainly a spot worthy of mention, even with its lack of parking and an address that might not seem like a likely place for such an excellent restaurant.
Punjab Cafe is a relatively small spot, with its dining room containing a handful of tables, including booths along the walls. Decor is attractive in a subtle way, with dark painted wood and low lighting, and the eatery has a quiet overall vibe. The restaurant was spruced up a bit over recent times, making it a more comfortable-feeling spot than it had been before, and it is indeed a decent place to go to for a date night, though it also remains a popular takeout option as well if you live close by.
The cuisine at Punjab Cafe leans more toward Northern Indian, so don't expect to order a vada or a dosa here. But the menu is extensive, with appetizers such as the terrific garlic naan and savory samosas (spicy potato turnovers), and if you can't decide which appetizer to get, you can opt for the Punjab Cafe Platter, which includes samosas, tikki (deep-fried potato patties), pakoras (deep-fried and oddly-shaped vegetable fritters), and papadum (spicy roasted crackers). Main dishes include such popular items as the chicken tikka masala (an excellent version, with a creamy tomato base and lots of chicken chunks), the earthy and buttery chicken saag (spinach, cream, and spices with pieces of white meat chicken) and a similar vegetarian dish called aloo palak (spinach and potatoes in a cream sauce), as well as a variety of biryani, curry, and spicy vindaloo options. A few of the more exotic entrees at Punjab Cafe are the dal makhni (black lentils sauteed in butter and mixed with herbs and spices) and the rogan josh (lamb cooked in onion sauce with nuts, yogurt, spices, coriander, and cream), along with a number of entrees with goat meat. Finally, if you like Chai tea, Punjab Cafe has has a good one; the mix of tea, milk, and cardamom is perfect for soothing your taste buds after all the spices you may have had with your meal.
Punjab Cafe is not a well-known restaurant at all. It seems that most people who know about the place live near it (or really know their restaurants, which is how we found it--thanks to the serious foodies who mentioned this place to us). As mentioned before, parking is not all that great and the Southern Artery isn't the most pleasant of roads to drive on, but if you like delicious Northern Indian cuisine at reasonable prices, it is worth the effort to check out this little dining spot a short distance east of Quincy Center.
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