Fusion dishes and food trucks now go together like PB&J, but in fact, it was the less expected pairing of tikka masala and tortillas—in a curry burrito—that helped CurryUpNow build a solid Bay Area presence. Though CurryUpNow continues to operate a small fleet of trucks, it’s taken root in several brick-and-mortar locations, including Palo Alto.
A menu of comforting Indian street food staples and fusion dishes initially made the truck wildly popular. Perhaps its best known item, the CurryUpNow burrito ($8.50), is composed of a flour or wheat tortilla, white or brown rice, garbanzo beans, onions and a choice of fillings that include chicken, paneer, tofu or beef (lamb and pork belly options are $2 extra), in different sauces and preparations.
I ordered my burrito with chicken tikka masala, which I found tasty, but honestly not that exciting by Indian food standards. The vegan aloo gobi filling, with spiced potatoes and cauliflower, is my choice for future visits.
The burrito is a good option for first-time visitors, as are the thali platters ($11). The generously sized combo platter comes with a choice of white or brown rice, garbanzo beans, pickle garlic condiment, an Indian flat bread called parantha as well as papadum, a crisp cracker made from lentils. The thali platter comes with a choice of two different entrees with various protein options. I ordered paneer, a firm fresh cheese, with tikka masala and saag curries. Tikka masala is a creamy, deep orange sauce with the sweet and smoky flavor of cumin and garam masala, while saag is a spiced spinach sauce. The thali platter’s many different flavors and textures made for a pleasing combination. A sweet, creamy mango lassi cools off some of the heat.
I also enjoyed one of CurryUpNow’s food truck inspirations, the Naughty Naan ($9). Described as an open-faced sandwich, a dinner plate-sized naan gets a smear of tikka masala sauce, onions and shaved jalapeños and a choice of protein served with a layer of bubbling cheese. Filling and certainly bursting with spice and flavor—not exactly authentic, but then what do you expect on an Indian menu with burritos and “Sexy Fries” (sweet potato fries dressed with cheese, onion and a choice of protein).
Slightly more traditional: Indian street food-inspired snacks—chaat—are available for $5 each. I enjoyed the papdi chaat which can loosely be described as Indian nachos; mint-coriander and tamarind chutneys with yogurt over crackers. Slightly less traditional: kathi rolls, aloo parantha quesadillix and deconstructed samosas. Additionally CurryUpNow offers vegan and gluten-free options for most of its menu and serves organic chicken and halal beef, goat and lamb.