WATERLOO — The city’s first Indian restaurant is opening this week along a rebuilding stretch of University Avenue.
Incredible India is scheduled Tuesday to begin serving up a menu of traditional curries, flat breads, basmati rice and other dishes in a longtime restaurant location at 2822 University Ave.
Owner and chef Dharamveer “Lali” Bhatia, who purchased the building in November, said he’s been getting a lot of interest from passers-by as he worked to clean and remodel the former Mexican restaurant over the last five months.
“When I first started working I would park in the front and people would walk in the front door and ask when I was opening,” he said. “When I started parking in the back, people figured it out and started coming through the back door and saying, “Come on, come on.”
Bhatia has been hoping to open an Indian restaurant in the area since he moved here from the Quad Cities six years ago to work for a firm that assists John Deere employees from India.
After previously operating a beauty salon, Bhatia finally found a building that he believes will provide good access for diners from both Waterloo and Cedar Falls.
The extensive menu includes a variety of chicken, lamb, fish, shrimp and vegetarian entrees; items cooked a clay tandoor oven; appetizers; and desserts. Bhatia said the majority of the dishes are focused on northern Indian cuisine.
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“I’m 100 percent sure butter chicken will be the best selling in the Cedar Valley,” he said of the entree that includes boneless chicken breast cooked in the tandoor and served with a creamy sauce of tomatoes, ginger, garlic, cashews and cardamom.
He also thinks diners will like the mango lassi, a sweet drink made with homemade yogurt, milk and crushed mangoes.
Incredible India will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for a lunch buffet and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for menu orders and carry-out service. It will be closed on Mondays.
The site housed a Country Kitchen restaurant in the early 1990s and later operated as a Chinese and two Mexican restaurants, most recently Las Margaritas.
Contractors are still finishing up the reconstruction of University Avenue in front of the restaurant, but Bhatia is confident guests will find Incredible India before the work is complete.
“An Indian restaurant is a destination,” he said. “People will follow you if you have good quality food and good quantity at the right price.
“I trust this community,” he added. “They’re not going to let me down.”