As of late, I have been pondering if there is a distinction between being a foodie and being a glutton. I don’t know where that line is, but going to Sitar Indian Cuisine is definitely borderline. There are few phrases as delightful as “all-you-can-eat,” especially in the context of Indian food. It is a culinary experience that ignites the senses and simultaneously primes you for a nap. Every year, I take groups of friends on Saturdays and spend on average two hours eating to maximum capacity. Going to Sitar is a no-judge zone. Consider it preparing your body for the cold of winter.
Located on Market Street, close to the river and the Arts District, Sitar offers approximately 10 entrée options during lunch and it is one of the few buffets that does not sacrifice quality at the altar of quantity. Having been there for dinner more times than I care to admit, I can attest that both are equally scrumptious. While their options vary a bit, some of the consistent dishes include Chicken Makhani or Chicken Tikka Masala (essentially the burger of Indian cuisine — it’s a staple). They also normally have Allo Gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower given whole new life with Indian spices) and one of their lamb dishes. They always offer their Tandoori Chicken, but this dish can be too dry, so there are better things to get.
Both their Black and Yellow Dals (lentils) are hearty and delicious. While not everyone may like it, my personal favorite is Saag Paneer (a creamy spinach with Indian cheese). Of course, all of this is served with a plethora of naan — we normally take a massive plate of it back to the table and eat it family style.
If you are going to Sitar for dinner, you must get the Mulligatwany Soup. It has an intense, strong flavor and creamy puréed texture that makes it perfect for cold evenings. Seriously, this soup was so good that the moment I went back to my kitchen in D.C., I replicated it and ate the whole pot in a day — foodie or glutton? Who knows.
They also do their Vegetable Samosas excellently, though perhaps their chutneys could be improved. As for dessert, many people swear by their Mango Pudding or their Rice Pudding and eat it by the dinner-plate full.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you embark on this culinary escapade: there is no free parking nearby and all the food is prepared mild, so for those of us who love things painfully spicy, you have to doctor it up a bit. Furthermore, the lunch buffet used to be one of the best deals in the city, but they recently upped the price to $12. Do not let this deter you, however, because while that is the price of an average burger at Urban Stack, Sitar provides far more flavor and more food.
If I were to rank the top ten restaurants in Chattanooga, Sitar would easily be on that list. It is perfect for colder days or for when food on campus starts to all taste the exact same and you feel like you’re putting a dangerous amount of salt on your food in the Great Hall. It is a cuisine that is more like an experience than a meal and makes you leave feeling content with all things in life. Sitar is one of Chattanooga’s hidden gems which offers something completely different from any other restaurant in the city.