While driving around the Burlington area, it is easy to spy the handful of chain restaurants such as Panera, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Take your pick of Mexican cuisine at La Cocina or La Fiesta. But, it is a bit tricky to find authentic Indian cuisine — until now.
Pandwar, located in the Walmart shopping complex, is the newest restaurant edition spicing up the downtown Burlington scene. Upon entrance, you can hear the sizzling chicken dishes being run past your face, hot from the kitchen. The smell of spices fills the colorful space as you are pleasantly greeted by a hostess.
Unlike most American-Indian restaurants, once you sit down, you realize the authenticity that Pandwar has in its Indian cuisine. The dishes that Pandwar offers fulfills the traditional type of cuisine – nothing on the menu is skewed to sacrifice authenticity. Unlike many Americanized Indian restaurants, you have the ability to rate the “spiciness” of your dish from one to 10, and when you say hot, it means hot.
The variety of choices on the menu can appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. Ranging from spicy chicken tikka to bhindi masala, customers can choose from chicken dishes, gluten-free meals and vegetarian options seven days a week.
Pandwar is a family run restaurant business that was originally started by the Kumar family a few years ago on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
With the lack of authentic Indian cuisine in Burlington, the Kumar family wanted to share the culture with the area. They believed they would receive similar success as they did in Chapel Hill based on the Burlington population.
Yovarj Kumar, son of the owner, explained that he and his father saw success in another college town and really tried to tailor to the student demographic.
One of Kumar’s main goals for Pandwar is to reach Elon students that did not have the option to enjoy Indian food at school until now.
“At the moment, we really only see locals, not a lot of students,” Kumar said. “We hope to catch the attention of students.”
Pandwar offers many incentives as advertisment for the Elon population, including a 10 percent discount for all students.
“We are trying really hard to get students over here,” Kumar said. “On the weekend, we have bottomless mimosas to try to attract students.”
Along with bottomless drinks, Pandwar offers other types of student discounts and motivations to bring students off campus and into their restaurant.
Pandwar accepts Phoenix cash as well as a 10 percent discount to all students.
“We also know Elon is right around the corner, so we deliver without any charge,” Kumar said.
Though Pandwar, where the most expensive entree is $25, is not as inexpensive as Cook Out, you are certainly getting a lot for your dollar. Each meal can be considered a large portion that can easily be made into two different meals, and is served with a complementary side of rice.
With the complexity of Indian cuisine, Pandwar does an excellent job of helping customers who are new to Indian food understand what is being offered to them.
While eating a traditional order of nan, you are offered four different types of chutney that are explained to you by the wait staff. Then, any question you may have about the menu will be answered in immense detail.
The entire Pandwar team tries to create the best experience possible for their customers, helping them understand exactly what they are getting for their meal.
“Right now, with the other Indian restaurant closed, we are the only one in the area,” Kumar said. “We are really trying to take advantage of that and attract students and locals to come in.”
Due to Pandwar’s obscure location, Kumar is worried that students might not be aware of its opening.
“We want to make sure students know that we are here,” Kumar said. “We try to tell students who come here to tell their friends about us.”
Only a short five-minute drive away, every minute is certainly worth the authentic experience, great service and doggy bag lunch you can bring to class the next day.