masala

WHERE YOU'RE EATING 

The comfy aura of Indian restaurant Masala is enticing and draws in hungry pedestrians off the streets of Missoula. On the corner of Ryman and Main, the view from the restaurant is the heart of downtown. The atmosphere is clean, hip and inviting. The wood-paneled ceiling and red and yellow hues makes the space feel warm. Against one wall stands a shelf brimming with records, a shrine-like statue of the Hindu god Ganesh and a drink machine. Most prominent are the many paintings of fancy busts with canine heads. The service is fast, friendly and casual. All of the food is ready to eat and displayed behind glass. Stop by for dinner any night until 9 p.m., except on Sundays when its closed.

WHAT YOU’RE EATING

Masala boasts it merges “foreign flavors with the local ingredients of Montana.” All food is organic and comes from Montana sources, and the open kitchen concept allows you to watch chefs while they cook. The cuisine is South Asian, with curry as the main dish. The menu displays an array of curries, beer and wine, plus the lunch special , which is only served until 3 p.m. on weekdays. Curry options include meat or veggies from the very spicy to the mildly spicy. Unless you are extremely hungry, one or two curries are enough to fill up on and cost less than $10. Once you’ve picked your main dish, you can add chutneys, Indian condiments, and choose from sides such as falafel, naan and green chile corn fritters. Sides are inexpensive and add something extra to your dish. I always go for the naan.

HOW’S IT TASTE?

I chowed down on a bowl of butter chicken curry with basmati rice, mint chutney and a half-piece of naan. The curry, like its name suggests, was buttery and creamy. I went with a milder spice level because my taste buds can’t handle the heat. It was enough to warm me up, but not enough to send me begging for a glass of milk. The mint chutney added a little freshness to it, and the chicken was tender. My naan was buttery and soft and was just the right thing to balance out the spicy.

ALL-IN-ALL

If you’re in the mood to spice thing up a bit when you eat out, Masala’s funky atmosphere, great location and delicious food makes it the perfect place to go.