Indian food in Portland is hard to come by; this is something that Erlend, my boyfriend, complains about on a regular basis. His parents were expats stationed in India for a while, and as a result, he’d spent several months and holidays there and frequently craved Indian food. We’d tried several Indian restaurants around town, but were unimpressed; put simply, there isn’t enough of it and what is available tends to be standard takeout/buffet-style fare that’s hard to get excited about. That is, until Bollywood Theater came along.
The restaurant is a great example of everything that’s currently trending in Portland (and elsewhere, for that matter); that is, upscale street food amid mismatched tables in a casual setting. It felt like I was in a Wes Anderson movie — the tables and walls are adorned with quirky, foreign knickknacks from the owner’s travels. 90s hip hop blasts in the background as a Bollywood movie is silently projected onto a silk screen relegated to the corner of the restaurant. There’s even a little shop tucked into the corner of the restaurant where you can buy imported spices, sauces, and ingredients:
Bollywood Theater is the brainchild of Chez Panisse and Laurelhurst Market chef Troy MacLarty, who recognized the void in the market and opened up the restaurant after longing for the Indian food he used to have in Berkeley. The menu focuses on South Asian street food, and is divided up into Street Food, Small Plates, Thali Meals, and Vegetable and Sides. During our first visit, Erlend and I wanted to try as much as we could and chose a dish from both the Street Food and the Small Plates menu.
From the Small Plates section, we shared the Dahi Papri Chaat (housemade crackers topped with chickpeas, potatoes, yogurt, cilantro and tamarind chutney) and the Aloo Tikki (pan-fried spiced potato patties served with chickpea chole and green chutney):
- Visit Bollywood Theater’s website to view their full menu. There are two Bollywood Theater locations in Portland — one on NE Alberta, and the other a few blocks away from my house on SE Division (this is the one we went to). Note that certain dishes are only available in specific locations.
- Bollywood Theater was one of the vendors that participated in Feast 2013’s Night Market! Learn more about this year’s upcoming Feast Festival, and check out my photos of the Night Market from last year. The Night Market was one of my favorite food-related events last year, and tickets go on sale May 19th.
- Like what you saw? Keep up with my adventures in real time by following me on Instagram. You can also check out past restaurant reviews, travels, and general adventures by visiting my Adventures index.