Gateway keeps on giving

Run out of meal ideas at the S.U.B.? Sick of your staple deli sandwich? Don’t get discouraged. A trip off campus to Gateway to India will knock you out of your S.U.B. food slump, not to mention get you familiar with the 6th Avenue food scene.

Located on 6th and Fife, just a twenty minute walk from school, Gateway offers authentic Northern Indian cuisine in a warm, comforting environment. The soft lighting and rich, golden décor create an undeniably inviting atmosphere, reflective of the rich, satisfying food to come.

This place is well known and respected throughout the Tacoma area for good reason. The food is authentic and consistently good quality. However, prices can be a bit high for the college crowd. Most meat entrees are around $15, and vegetarian closer to $10.

On the bright side, they offer a 10 percent discount to Puget Sound students, which our delightful waitress was thoughtful enough to point out to us. But an occasional night out at Gateway is worth the price. All the staff is inviting, helpful and engaged. My water glass was never less than half full, which was much appreciated once the heat of the meal caught up with me.

And you’ll never be wishing you ordered more food. Portions are substantial to begin with, and all dinner entrees are served with complimentary curried lentil soup and basmati rice.

The bulk of the menu is made up of meat, vegetable or seafood curry-style dishes, all served over rice.

Even the appetizer is top-notch: pleasantly spicy with classic Indian flare, and not overwhelming by any means. The touch of cilantro on top is the perfect, grassy complement.

For heartier tastes, several lamb and chicken entrees are available. These are either grilled, baked Indian-style in a Tandoori oven or cooked in a variety of sauces, vegetables and spices.

Gateway is especially accommodating to vegans and vegetarians, as many Indian dishes are inherently meat-free. The “Aloo Gobi,” a cauliflower and potato curry, is rich and satisfying, leaving nothing to be desired even for meat-eaters. “Saag Aloo” (spinach and potatoes) and “Daal Maharani” (mixed lentils), the Aloo Gobi’s soupier cousins, are equally filling but with a bit less depth of flavor.

On top of their standard veggie options, the menu also indicates a variety of dishes which can be prepared vegan or vegetarian upon request.

“Biryani” entrees were popular around my table. These rice-based, saffron spiced dishes can be prepared with chicken, lamb, shrimp or veggies, and are a substantial alternative to the soft curries.

Spice level is a concern at any Asian restaurant, and Gateway accommodates all palates. Each dish can be prepared on a heat scale between one and five. They claim a five is hot enough for Indian natives, and I believe it. A three is enough for me.

But even with the spice, a perfect refreshing counterpoint comes in the form of Gateway’s raita sauce, complimentary with most dinner entrees. This yogurt-based side is mixed with cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, cilantro and spices for an irresistible tangy compliment to the rich dishes.

Fresh naan, or Indian flatbread, is a comforting respite from the intense heat and spice as well. Gateway bakes theirs every day the authentic way in their Tandoori oven. Don’t pass up an order for the table.

Reservations are available, but not necessary. I arrived reservation-less with five friends on a Friday night and was seated immediately. That’s not to say they weren’t busy; it’s only a testament to their fast service. Walking is to Gateway is ideal, as parking can be difficult to find along 6th, especially on weekends.
If a lunch date is more your scene, stop by between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekends to entertain your palate with their popular lunch buffet. For around $9, you can fill your plate with a rotating selection of popular menu items. If you are unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, this is a great way to go a little out of your comfort zone.