Finally, Narayan’s |

Finally, Narayan’s

Erik Vienneau

In a town that seems to have more Mexican restaurants than Tijuana, Avon’s selection of ethnic food has been about as slim as a Cosmopolitan cover girl.Unless you’re the type who considers Italian at the City Market deli and Chinese at Panda City a wildly exotic night on the town, then you’ve probably been craving a touch more overseas excitement on the local dining scene.Well, Bindeshor Kakshapati, a Katmandu, Nepal, native who just opened Narayan’s Nepal Restaurant in Avon, is banking on that fact.He ran an award-winning Nepalese-Indian restaurant by the same name in Glenwood Springs over the last three years and says 50 percent of his customers were making the hour-long trip from Vail.He says opening a Narayan’s in a valley with a population increasingly interested in Eastern arts like yoga and meditation made sense to him. With a menu that boasts three ethnic foods, Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan, a thick list of vegetarian dishes including an impresive saag paneer (home-made cheese sauted with spinach) and plenty of organic ingredients, the holistic and more adventurous set is quickly calling the friendly spot a second home.Although Narayan’s is off the beaten path in the Christie Lodge in Avon and has yet to land a liquor license, business was already doing well on a recent Tuesday night.Like local Chinese restaurants, Kakshapati is offering a great lunch deal $7.95 for a diverse, fresh buffet to attract business, and a more expensive and sophisticated menu to get people in the door for dinner.At night the entrees are still reasonably priced. The vegetable Momo, a dumpling dish with tomato achar (a pickled and salted relish), famous in the Himalayan region, costs $9.95, while the tender and highly recommended Lamb Vindaloo (the spiciest of central and coastal Indian curries) is well worth the 13 bucks.Narayan’s menu may be dominated by flavor-packed Indian dishes (Nepalese food is usually more mild), but the place keeps its Nepalese theme dead on by presenting rice, lentil soup, vegetable curry and a tangy yogurt on a large metal plate (the same kind you find in beat-up barns serving food along Nepal’s Annapurna Trail) alongside the main dishes in the evening.Order different dishes than your dining companions and you’ll find spoons thrusting across the table sampling each other’s treats.All 11 types of flat breads, from basic naan and paratha to the more exotic lamb roti, are all good choices for dipping in four authentic eastern house-made sauces, including tomato, tamarind, yogurt and mint options.Nepalese basics from the hot and spicy chili chicken (a surprise for a cuisine that is mostly mild) and the Indian chicken Makhani to the Tibetan chicken Thukpa (a large bowl of noodles) and the meat Momo are all good main dish selections that show the diversity of the menu.Besides having a staff that is friendly to the point you wonder if they’re for real, Narayan’s also scores points for being strikingly authentic, fairly priced and tasty when they are the only show in town. This place offers Eastern favorites that are as good as any Western, big-city hole in the wall.Besides serving up the only authentic Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan food in the Vail area, Kakshapati often finds himself playing the role of ambassador for his home country.”People here want to learn about the culture and climate of Nepal,” Kakshapati says with a smile in his deep Nepalese accent. “And I send lots of people to Nepal. I tell them, ‘Don’t go to the travel agency; come here and I’ll tell you about a cheap trek or other information.'”Maybe he’ll even give you the scoop on his plans to open a Thai restaurant in the area. That is, if he has the time to chat.Narayan’s Nepal Restaurant is located in the Christie Lodge in Avon. Lunch and dinner are served 11-3 p.m. and 510 p.m. respectively. They open for lunch on Sunday at noon. Call 748-1404.

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