Whether you're partial to all-you-can-eat lunch buffets or prefer sit-down dinners, the fare at local Indian eateries often seems like a blur of tandoori chicken, saag paneer, and garlic naan. Thankfully, there's Udupi Palace, a welcome -- and tasty -- reminder that Indian cuisine is as varied as the subcontinent itself. Udupi specializes in South Indian vegetarian dishes, which tend to be a bit lighter, spicier, and less predictable than their better-known northern cousins. Decor is modest at Udupi's two locations, but who cares? Udupi offers several delicious dosas as well as less-common appetizers such as iddly, fluffy steamed rice cakes served with hearty sambar sauce and coconut chutney. The centerpiece of the menu is thali -- a single plate crowded with an assortment of dishes and accompanied by rice, pickle, papadum, puri, and a sweet halwa made from carrots, beets, and other veggies not usually considered dessert fare. (And, yes, there is gulab jamun on the menu if you still crave something sweet and gooey.) A single thali makes a good sampler for a couple of people or a hearty meal for one. And Udupi changes its thalis regularly, providing regulars and first-timers plenty of reasons to keep coming back for more.
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