Almost inevitably, Honest, a vegetarian Indian restaurant, describes its cuisine as street food. How did we ever find things to eat that weren’t from the streets? But Honest comes to the term, um, honestly, having originated as a family-run food cart in 1975 in the city of Ahmedabad in the Gujarat state of western India. The street cart became a restaurant that expanded to Thailand and now is opening locations in the United States. The Orlando location joins one in Coral Springs.
It’s a quick-serve operation with orders taken at the counter. You may select from the menu board behind the counter with categories that include Bombay chaat, South Indian dishes, Indo Chinese foods and, almost as inevitable as street food, pizza.
You may find, however, a dearth of descriptions, so unless you’re well versed in the various Indian cuisines you may feel a bit at sea. But throw a dart, as it were, and you’re bound to find something enjoyable.
I started my meal with the Honest special bhaji pav. Bhaji is a kind of curry with vegetables mixed in. The special version includes cashews and raisins. The pav part is bread, more specifically dinner rolls of the sort you might find at any Midwestern pot luck supper. Typically, bhaji is eaten by spooning some of the curry onto the bread to make a sort of sandwich, but you’ll find it just as satisfying to eat the curry with a spoon. The spicing was delightfully forward with a nice bit of heat.
I also enjoyed the samosa chaat, which came off as a sort of Indian style nachos plate. It had potato filled turnovers topped with spiced potatoes, tomatoes, curd and various chutneys. It was wonderfully gloppy.
The mysore masala dosa, a South India specialty, featured an extra large rice crepe, slightly crispy, with a spiced onion and potato filling, served with a side of red chutney. The filling had nice hints of ginger and garlic and the chutney had plenty of red chili heat.
The gentleman who took my order was cautiously friendly. There is a dining area but it has the distinct feel of a fast food restaurant. There is space out front for outside dining but no tables and chairs were set up when I visited.
Honest is at 1718 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The phone number is 407-250-4016.