Where To Celebrate Diwali With Pani Puri & Chili Margaritas In NYCThese NYC restaurants are perfect for celebrating the festival of lights.
Diwali, the South Asian festival of lights, runs for five days in November, with the main event happening on November 15th this year. And, like every good holiday, a good amount of the celebrating involves food. So, we teamed up with Gold House, an organization that champions Asian Pacific creators, to share the restaurants where these NYC locals (and members of the Gold House community) like to spend the festival.
Gold House has already kicked off the Diwali festivities with a historic, first-ever Diwali-themed NASDAQ bell-ringing ceremony. They are also shining a spotlight on South Asian voices in their Renegades interview series, collaborating with Sprinkles Cupcakes and Padma Lakshmi to offer a limited edition Diwali cupcake, and hosting events in both New York and Los Angeles. So, go ahead and start making your Diwali plans now.
photo credit: Mengwen Cao
Prabal Gurung, Fashion Designer
“[Both] Thamel and the Himalayan Yak restaurant in Queens have truly won my heart. These establishments stand out as the ultimate destinations for savoring the flavors of Nepal. It's not just about celebrating Diwali; it's a year-round affair filled with incredible food, a delightful community, and a heartwarming ambiance that always makes you feel like you've found a home away from home. The menu, featuring momos and a wide array of Nepali delights, is a culinary journey you won't want to miss. And, if that's not enough, the occasional live music adds the perfect finishing touch to an already remarkable experience.”
photo credit: Kate Previte
Puja Patel, Editor-In-Chief, Pitchfork
“We’re lucky to have such a richness of Indian food in the city right now—Indian Table in Cobble Hill has been a go-to in the past year, and a recent meal at Masalawala was incredible. When I think of Diwali, though, I think of childhood memories of the food stalls near my grandparents’ house; the ones that specialized in regional snacks, and delivered them piping hot on a steel plate. As a treat, we’d get samosas and khaman and bring them home wrapped in newspaper and string. Sometimes my uncle would take me for one crispy, paper-thin dosa. 'Fun food,' as we called it.
I love whenever I can relive that same small joy as an adult. Angel Indian Restaurant and Jackson Diner in Queens are two simple, down-home restaurants that offer an abundance of choice. (As is Bombay Talk in nearby Iselin, NJ.) When I go, it's for the 'fun food'—always get the pani puri (wheat puffs filled with potatoes, chana, and a chilled, spicy-sweet broth), the chole bhature (chana masala and piping hot, chewy fried bread), and the bhel (veggies, sev, and chutney). They're perfect for sharing.”
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Nik Dodani, Actor
“Adda Indian Canteen in Queens is one of my go-to's in New York, especially when it comes to celebrating something like Diwali. The recipes are authentic and the vibes are A-plus. It's so good that I even took my mother there in the dead of winter a few years back, which means I made her walk in 6 degree weather for Indian food that she didn't personally cook or vet. She didn't hate it, which if you know my mom, is a massive endorsement of the entire establishment.”
Megha Rao, Founder, holiCHIC by Megha Rao
“I love celebrating Diwali with my family at Delhi Accent, located in Ridgewood, NJ! Not only does the restaurant offer an exceptional South Asian culinary experience, but the ambiance and hospitality is always so gracious, warm and welcoming.”
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Sehr Thadhani, Chief Digital Officer, NASDAQ
“To me, the perfect spots to celebrate Diwali are those where you can gather a bunch of friends, laugh loudly, and stay for hours. One place that I've always held dear is Bukhara in Midtown East. [I moved to Miami during the pandemic, but] it used to be my all-time favorite, and it brought back memories of our time in Delhi at the Maurya Sheraton, where the naans were the size of the table.”
photo credit: Moti Mahal
Sean Gupta, Media Executive, Professor Columbia University
“One of my favorite Indian restaurants in NYC is Moti Mahal at 63rd and 1st. I am lucky enough to live next door! The original Moti Mahal was founded in 1947 in Punjab and is one of the most famous and historic in India and the NYC version is a Michelin star-winning adaptation of the original restaurant. I didn’t know that people from all over the city came to my neighborhood for this hot spot!”
photo credit: Hannah Albertine
Stephanie Mehta, CEO, Mansueto Ventures
“Who doesn’t love Sona, Maneesh Goyal’s upscale Indian eatery in New York’s Flatiron neighborhood? Sona somehow manages to feel both intimate and festive, making it the perfect place to celebrate a low-key Diwali with a friend or to host a full-on party with Desi and non-Desi pals. There’s a special Diwali menu, but I would be perfectly happy to nurse a spicy chili margarita and the avocado papdi chaat.”
Rohit Gijare | Choreographer, Actor
“I love Bhatti Indian Grill because the taste and flavors in their dishes are absolutely delicious. Some of my favorites are Murgh Malai Kebab and Chicken Kadhai Masala.Their food has modern approaches yet feels so authentic and familiar and it is one my favorite Indian restaurants to eat at during Diwali.”