As of today, Tikkaway Grill is the best restaurant in New Haven according to Yelp. With entrees that cost less than $7, food that’s served to-go with disposable utensils, and seven small tables, Tikkaway has redefined what it means to sell great food. The restaurant boasts a 5-star average rating with over 120 reviews, an honor for Tikkaway’s gracious owner Gopi. Just last month, an Account Executive from Yelp’s California headquarters made a trip to New Haven to taste for herself what all of the fuss was about. According to the sticky note she left on the wall, her meal was all the proof she needed to understand Tikkaway’s outstanding rating.
For Gopi, opening an “Indian version of Chipotle” is about more than just good business and Yelp ratings. He sees Tikkaway a way to introduce Americans to Indian spices and flavors in the increasingly popular fast-casual format. To make this introduction as seamless as possible, he designed the menu pragmatically. All of his sauces are lower-fat and therefore less creamy than those you’d find at most Indian restaurants and he refuses (even after some begging on my part) to offer naan. Both choices are part of an effort to make lunch at Tikkaway an everyday possibility, not a food-coma-inducing meal you need to nap to recover from. As someone who has piled on toppings and sauces until my Tikkaway box can barely close, I can vouch for Gopi’s engineering that gives me a huge, delicious Indian meal and allows me to function afterwards.
The menu at Tikkaway allows for infinite combinations. Choose rice bowl, salad bowl, or roti wrap, then pick chicken, lamb, panir (Indian cottage cheese), chana (chickpeas), or aloo (potato). After that, it’s a free-for-all. Pile on carrots, beets, grilled onions, and mushrooms to your heart’s desire, then sample any of Tikkaway’s sauces and chutneys to put on top. We also tried and loved the creamy lentil soup and the refreshing Kheer, a rice pudding-esque dessert. Your enormous meal comes out to around $6-$7 – you’ll plan on saving half of your food for your next meal and will inevitably finish it all in one sitting anyways.
After several visits to Tikkaway, the Chew Haven team has some favorite combinations. We love rice bowls with chicken and a mix of masala and khorma sauces, and a paneer and chickpea roti wrap. The staff at Tikkaway are incredibly accommodating and let you pick any combination of meats, fillings, veggies, and sauces you desire, so don’t be afraid to ask for whatever flavors your heart desires.
With daily lunch crowds of about 100 customers a day, Tikkaway has become New Haven’s hottest restaurant in the most understated way possible – we have a feeling they (and their five well-deserved stars) are here to stay.