Monday, June 02, 2008


If burgers and budweisers aren't your thing for pre-game eats, Jackson Diner offers a great alternative right off the 7 train. Don't let the name fool you, the cuisine is Indian, and it's worth leaving a bit early to make a pit stop before Shea (although I did find it to be overpriced).

Located in a strip mall that offers everything from cell phones to Saris, Jackson Diner's sprawling dining room seems better fit for a monsoon wedding than a tailgate, but the Taj Mahal beer offers common ground, and even though there were no blue mountains on the label, the beer was just as crisp and refreshing as its rocky mountain alternative. After a few bottles to numb the tongue, start with samosas (classic) and paneer pakora (possibly classic, but nothing I've seen on Indian menus), and don't be shy with the green and brown sauce. The appetizers offer even more common ground due to the fact that they are deep fried. I imagine if we were tailgating at a cricket match, samosas and pakoras would be the snack of choice.

After a few piquant potato pockets and chewy cheese chunks, we ordered lamb korma, malai kofta, and chicken tikka makhanwala. To soak up the extra sauce, we ordered a couple of naan that were graciously divided for us to share (note: the garlic naan sucks unless you are in the vampire business). As much of a meat eater as I am, the clear winner of the three was the malai kofta, but I would have to say that it was all in the sauce. It had the appropriate amount of heat and it didn't stick with you, which allowed me to actually taste the other two dishes instead of giving me a numb tongue and a mouthful of spices that are supposedly exotic (even though I can get them at Met Food across the street). The korma and the tikka makhanwala (which I secretly hoped to be tikka masala with a different name) were both delicious, but definitely not life changing, and the portions were a little off. We had a ton of sauce left over once we finished the naan and the rice.

Overall, in Queens, each of these dishes were much spicier than any Manhattan counterpart, even in curry hill or curry row (although most of those places suck just as much as Jackson Diner's garlic naan). This could create issues once you're at the game, especially since the last place you want to be sitting is a wet seat smeared with muddy air force one footprints in the upper mezzanine toilet. If your stomach was not made for spicy food (i.e. you're a white boy), maybe stick to tailgating. Buen provecho.

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