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Red lanterns and linen napkins are all that keep Spice Route in Bellevue from feeling like a ginormous banquet hall. The weekend lunch buffet may be the meal that packs in the most people, but Spice Route still pulls in a respectable crowd every night for its Indian food. The owners democratically serve as many members of the Eastside desi community as they can, pumping out everything from Northern-style naan and boti kabobs to Southern vadas and dosas, even Indo-Chinese chicken Manchurian (say no to the last one, though). Spice Route's most distinctive dishes are its fragrant South Indian curries, like the Andhra chicken pepper fry, the vegetable chettinad, and its baby eggplants stuffed with coconut and spices.
In a forgotten corner of Bellevue, near a desolate Sears that seems open only because someone forgot to close it and next to a Chuck E. Cheese that's seen better days, sits a little oasis of India, populated with women in bright, beautiful saris and their husbands. Exhibit A: Apna Bazar, stocked with all the basmati rice, bel puhri, curry leaves, varieties of daal, jars of chutney, frozen srikhand, galub jamin, and bags of spices a person could ever want or need. Exhibit B: Spice Route, the cavernous Indian restaurant next door with a stellar lunch buffet and south/north fusion menu at dinner. Hit both and you'll feel as though you've died and gone to Delhi.—Anna Roth
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