Never order two of the same dish at Himalaya. Or rather, if you try to, the owner will tell you no. He’s larger than life, lumbering around the restaurant chatting up diners, suggesting more food, passing out to-go orders. You’re essentially dining in his home. At least half of the people in the cluttered dining room are regulars, and the owner seems to know them all. He’s got them hooked, not only on the aromatic food, but on the entire restaurant’s personality. Because eating at Himalaya, a classic Pakistani and Indian restaurant in the Mahatma Gandhi District, is a Houston rite of passage.
Himalaya is covered in hundreds of framed press clippings, akin to family photos plastering a grandmother’s house. Everything is stuck in time. The bold yet drab red and orange walls resemble a set for an early 2000s sitcom set in a restaurant. The tables are covered in plastic, the napkins from a dispenser are lighter than air, and one table is always stacked high with to-go boxes. It’s warm and lived in.
We never tire of eating the food at Himalaya. There’s an art to an order here: get a pepper-heavy chicken hara masala, order a mango lassi to soothe the heat. The gamey yet fatty and sweet mutton biryani balances well with the acidic tomato and cumin spice of the aloo chana masala. The owner will let you know if you’ve ordered too little, too much, or if you’re missing something. And you should listen to him. And despite the wide selection of curries, biryanis, and masalas, food comes out quickly with finesse.
Whether you’re here with a big group, on a date, or just grabbing take out, Himalaya’s dedication to their craft and the experience of their diners is something to witness. You’re in their house, and it’s their playbook. But, like any good house guest, you’re encouraged to bring the wine (yes, it’s BYOB).
This Hyderabadi curry comes out the most pleasant shade of bright green, thanks to the green chilies, cilantro, and yogurt base. It’s tangy and gets hotter and hotter the more you eat.
Sort of a version of Pakistani pastrami, or even barbacoa. You can try this Hanifia-style specialty as cold cuts with tomato or chopped and sauteed in butter. Add mini parathas on the side.
Wonderfully tender and sweet, gamey lamb is cooked with a mountain of dry spices and layered into steaming hot basmati rice.
Aloo Chana Masala
A Punjabi dish, this vegan curry has potatoes and chickpeas stewed in a peppery, tomato-based sauce. The vegetables are pleasantly soft and seem to fall apart, which is great for sopping up with the garlic naan.
Himalaya Fried Chicken
Tender, juicy chicken is marinated in aromatic Indian spices, dredged, and fried to a crispy golden color. The spicy mustard sauce on the side is what every fast food restaurant wishes they could duplicate. You definitely want to order extra.