Tarka- Vegan Indian Food in South Austin

I have been really excited since I heard that the previous owners of the Clay Pit were opening a location, called Tarka in South Austin. The really great thing about Tarka is that they have all the vegan items denoted with a little V and you can easily tell what you want to eat. The first time I went a girl at the counter told me that the rice wasn’t vegan but then I spoke later with the owner he assured me that they use oil instead of butter. He was really nice and very gracious through the whole exchange and I really appreciated that. In fact, it is that conversation  that sent me to try it a second time. The vegan items are Vegetable Samosas, Vegetable Pakoras, Coconut Curry, Minced Vegetable Kabob, Vegetable Biryanis, Channa Masala, Tarka Aloo, & they also have perfect roti and a mango lemonade that was completely fabulous.

The samosas are the highlight. They kind of remind me of the samosas from the Cosmic Cafe that I miss with all my heart. Of all the places in town to close why did it have to be the Cosmic Cafe! The samosas are plump and fried just perfectly so that they don’t feel at all oily, just tender and crispy and wonderful. The chutney that comes with them is also divine.

I was so excited that they had vegan roti and it did not disappoint, it was perfect and there was plenty to share. Sadly, both of the entrees that I had haven’t been as fantastic. I first had an eggplant dish that isn’t on the menu anymore and then the second time had the channa masala. It was good enough but didn’t seem particularly exciting and I couldn’t help but think it didn’t justify 7.25 for the very small dish. It is chickpeas, and spices, and rice. And a small portion. Both times that I went I know that if I hadn’t also gotten the samosas I would have still been hungry when I left and that never happens to me at restaurants. I go to the Clay Pit quite often and for about the same price you get 3 times as much food. I usually have leftovers even. I think I would recommend that they put several of the dishes together with roti and a samosa and have a vegan plate for 7 to 9 dollars. As it is, the two samosas were $3.50 and the roti was a couple of dollars more so I ended up spending about 20 dollars. In actual food costs this dish was probably worth about 25 cents and to me it would have been worth it had I paid like 3 or 4 dollars or had the sides included.

In the end, the price point just does not match its location. I really hope that after they are open for a few more weeks they work out the kinks and maybe start a delivery service because I love samosas like I love this life but otherwise I don’t think I can afford to come back to Tarka any time soon.

9 thoughts on “Tarka- Vegan Indian Food in South Austin

  1. Carrie

    You’re right, that does look like a small amount of food for that price. There is an Indian restaurant that does that here, too. Then there’s another one that is super cheap and gives you tons, so that’s typically the one I go too.

    Those samosas look perfect!

  2. Alin

    This place is weak. Super lame, really. It’s nowhere near Clay Pit in terms of….anything. The service and staff are super nice, their only positive.

    I went once and intended to try it again, before slamming it. But they took off the eggplant dish I wanted to try! AND their tamarind chutney has honey in it. I can’t eat Indian without tamarind chutney, that’s just stupid. Like Thai without siracha. Does. Not. Compute.

    It’s also the closest to a Babies ‘R Us I ever want to be. Just yuck and no all the way around for Tarka.

  3. Trinity

    I really must explore the Indian cuisine next time I’m in Austin. Denton has long relied on a single Indian restaurant- a place called Rasoi located in an old gas station. They serve only 1 or 2 different veg dishes every day, but I was still happy to have access to samosas and basic Indian fare. Kind of like your channa masala up there (but at our-restaurant-is-in-an-old-gas-station prices).

    Now, though, a new branch of my favorite local(ish) Indian restaurant has opened right here in Denton! Thank goodness, cause when I studied in England I got hooked on authentic curries. If you’re ever in Denton, let me know and we’ll have to meet up at the new, delicious, non-gas-station-ish Kokila restaurant!

  4. jenitreehugger

    Samosas are super yummy – have you tried making your own? I posted a link to a you tube video on my blog about making Samosas – they are AMAZING! Must make some more.

  5. lazysmurf Post author

    jeni- I have made my own but they are never as good as the deep fried kind from the restaurant!

  6. Nanette

    i have to say i love it there, and almost always have leftovers!
    the chana masala was not amazing i agree. but the coconut curry is! i’ve had the tarka aloo also, loved it.
    i guess i’m mostly just satisfied that it’s there, and easy and casual and i can go with any of my friends and just the FACT that they label the vegan items makes me so happy….

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