Eatery - Tamira (CA)

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1027 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual, To-Go | Cuisine - Indian

What food comes to mind when you think of Santa Barbara? I'm sure an eclectic bunch considering how many different types of restaurants line its streets. My friends and I had taken a trip up there for a few days' respite and were trying to make sure that we had a diverse spread of food indulgences during our adventures. The day we meant to leave did not have very much planned so we decided to go the way of our AirBnb hostess' suggestion of trying out Tamira on State St. Its alluring smells had already caught our attention the day prior as you could smell yourself approaching the restaurant before even seeing it. Whatever spices they heat up throughout the days really help. The online reviews looked promising, and the price point was comfortable so we dropped by for a quick lunch!

The restaurant was somewhat empty when we arrived but it was a weekday afternoon so understandable. I only had my old point-and-shoot with me so the pictures here do not fully showcase the dishes well but they'll have to do. We started with drinks of their Salty Lassi ($2.95) and Mango Lassi ($3.95) which were in such large glasses that we did not finish them. However, they were quite smooth and creamy, the salty one being extremely salty. I had never had salty lassi before so the profile was unexpected; it was hard to finish right next to a cold glass of sweet mango lassi so I did not make it to the end. In addition to our entrees ordered later, we also opted for a side of Garlic Naan ($1.95 - leavened bread sprinkled with garlic and cilantro), which is a necessity at any Indian restaurant for us, and the Onion Kulcha ($2.45 - fresh herbs and chopped onions stuffed in a leavened bread), another food item I have yet to try before. The garlic naan could have had more garlic and was of the fluffier variety rather than crunchy. The kulcha is definitely something for an onion lover as it was just a bread stuffed to its maximum with caramelized onions; delicious but something to get used to as well.

The naan and kulcha came in handy as our ordered entrees did not come with much to eat them with - one of my friends had to order a side of rice and we used the naan and kulcha to scoop up the curries. I suppose we have been spoiled by other Indian restaurants to assume that rice is included in it all. Anyhow, I was hankering for some paneer so I ordered their Paneer Tikka Masala ($7.95 - homemade cottage cheese in a mild tomato curry sauce), a solid bowl that came with plenty of the paneer and a mild flavored curry. I enjoyed this one for being slightly sweet but also hearty enough.

Then there was the Chicken Vindaloo ($8.95 - chicken cooked in a fiery red hot and tangy curry sauce) that looked more harmful than it tasted. The bright red sauce was hardly a spicy threat at all but still quite complex in flavors. We enjoyed how bountiful the portion of chicken was and the richness of the sauce. Lastly, the Lamb Korma ($9.95 - lamb pieces cooked in a creamy cashew nut sauce) made its appearance. The small pieces of lamb were quite tender, and the overall nut sauce was smooth. I believe of the three, this one's particular curry was my favorite for its well-balanced profile, creaminess, and plentiful lamb.

As you can tell, the price point for each of these very filling dishes is not too steep. Check out Tamira in Santa Barbara the next time you get a chance and let us know what you thought!

Photography by Minerva Thai.