Vegan MoFo Day 18: Vegan in Pittsburg–Udipi Cafe

Sometimes life hands you the most amazing surprises–Udipi Cafe in Monroeville, a suburb outside of Pittsburgh, is one of those.  While I expected cabbage & pierogies & other eastern European delicacies, I definitely didn’t think I’d find the best Indian food I’ve had outside of Atlanta (not to mention a restaurant with the name of my favorite south Indian restaurant in Atlanta–so strange!).

The location itself is extremely strange.  Monroeville, where we’re staying is a suburby suburb, but G. found via Yelp a south Indian restaurant.  Too good to be true?  Well, after winding through shopping malls, we turned down a forested road flanked by the Turnpike, we turned a bend and faced an old abandoned concrete factory.

And the restaurant was right there, in what used to probably be a bar.  Strange?  Definitely.  A sign of the goodness to come?  I definitely think so.

The dining space is nothing to look at, really: sparsely decorated, lined with formica tables and red plastic fabric covered chairs.  But, for 3 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, the place was decently full–four or five tables with customers.  Like a kid in a candy store I started ordering for us: mango lassis, vadas, dosas, and a curry.

First up was the vada: Medhu Vada with a hot tomato-based chutney and sambar.  G. had never had a vada before and I hadn’t had one since moving north.  Perfectly fried and full of gluten-free lentily goodness, the vadas really shone with a smathering of the chutney, a chutney of such quality that G. began to eat it as a soup.  I’d recommend it.

Next we had the dosa, a Mysore Masala Dosa filled with potatoes and onions and served, again, with the amazing chutney.  Crispy thin layers of lentil crepe filled with curried potatoes?  I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Finally, we had the curry.  We ordered the Chana Palak, and that’s what was written on the ticket, but the curry seemed more like the Aloo Palak with chickpeas instead of potatoes.  I’m not really sure what happened with that, but I can’t complain because it was killer good.  Chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes, onions, served with yogurt and a hot chili sauce.  When we asked for more of the chili sauce, our server seemed very pleased, asked if we like hot food, and when we said yes, he came back with an 8 oz to-go container full of hot pickles.  Score!

In all, I never expected anything this amazing during our trip here.  I knew the food would be decent, if not good, but to have the Indian food I’ve been craving–south Indian dosas and vadas and curries far exceeded my hopes.  If you ever find yourself in Pittsburgh, you really need to find it.  Just look for the cement factory rubble!

Udipi Cafe
4141 Old William Penn Highway
Monroeville, PA 15146-1619
(412) 373-5581

Posts of MoFos Past:

October 2009: Tempeh Tube Sausage
October 2008: —

5 Responses to “Vegan MoFo Day 18: Vegan in Pittsburg–Udipi Cafe”
  1. jessy says:

    what a wonderful find, Jes! everything looks awesome! dosas, vadas, curries, sambar, chutney – i love it all! oooh man, now i’m craving indian eats. totally gonna have to make some after thanksgiving, fo ‘sho! enjoy the rest of your travels and happy thanksgiving to you!

  2. eileen says:

    Isn’t the best food always in the weird little restaurant in the minimall or under the overpass? I am totally jealous of that dosa!

  3. Taylor says:

    This place sounds delicious!
    Question: doesn’t “chana” mean chickpeas and “aloo” potatoes?

    • Jes says:

      You’re totally right–it looks like I mixed up which was which when I wrote the post. We ordered aloo palak but got chana palak.

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