Walk down East Sixth Street in the East Village, between First and Second avenues, and there’s no missing the bright facades, chili pepper lights and persistent hosts of the area’s many Indian spots. Just because there’s such a concentration of Indian restaurants, however, doesn’t mean they’re particularly good — but, luckily, there are a few exceptions. Here are the two restaurants to hit up when you’re in the neighborhood, plus a shopping spot for good measure.
Shiva Natarajan is known for some of the city’s best and most interesting Indian restaurants — Dhaba and Chote Nawab in Murray Hill among them — and his Malai Marke is no exception. Look for unusual dishes such as red fish curry and a deeply spiced shrimp ajadina and enjoy them in a sleek space with dim lighting and exposed brick. 318 E. 6th St., 212-777-7729, malaimarke.com
Looking for something a little different, but still interested in the cuisine of South Asia? Walk over to First Avenue for Sri Lankan fare at tiny Sigiri, where you can try hoppers (thin, bowl-shaped rice pancakes) and kotthu roti (a street food of shredded-up stir fried pancakes). Best part: it’s BYOB. 91 First Ave., 212-614-9333, sigirinyc.com
If you’re in the market for Indian rices or pre-made meals, tandoori spice blends or, well, just about any spice at all, this no-frills grocery with one of Manhattan’s best dry goods and spice selections is the place. It offers goods at a fraction of the price of other specialty stores; it’s even a significant cut off similar markets such as Kalustyan’s in nearby Curry Hill. 91 First Ave., 212-979-6045, dualspecialty.com