Nestled in a lively strip of cafes and grills on MacDougal Street sits a quaint, hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Thelewala. From the Bengali word that means “street food vendor,” Thelewala serves authentic Indian cart food; its specialty is a popular delicacy from Calcutta known as a nizami roll. Rivaling The Kati Roll Company across the street, Thelewala has clearly earned its place as a neighborhood favorite of West Village.
The restaurant is a small and cozy joint in a perfect spot at 112 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker Street and West 3rd Street. With its interior of soft chestnut wood and gentle Indian music playing from the speakers overhead, Thelewala has an atmosphere that is undeniably calming, a pleasant contrast to the liveliness of the Village. Complete with mellow, candle-like lights that dangle from the ceiling and large jars of grains and spices that line the wall, the restaurant feels genuinely Indian even before you get a taste of the food.
Thelewala serves a variety of their nizami rolls, which can range in spiciness anywhere from mild to flaming hot. Orders can be made with zesty chopped peppers upon request. A popular crowdpleaser is the “Chapli Roll,” a perfectly seasoned blend of minced lamb, red onions, eggs, and an unexpected hint of lime rolled up in a soft paratha, an Indian flatbread, for only $5.50. Thelewala’s convenient vegetarian option is their “Lime Paneer Roll” ($5), which is filled with melted cheese, red onions, and coriander, a terrific combination of simple, bold South Asian flavors. However, these delightfully seasoned rolls are not all Thelewala has to offer. Marked underneath a category of Indian street food known as “Calcutta Basti Khana” is a dish called “Chili Anda” ($6), which combines smoky scrambled eggs with green chilies, onions, and cilantro, as well as grilled paratha bread on the side.
Thelewala’s employees are extremely customer-friendly and will even offer a 10 percent discount when you show them your student identification card. If you are lucky enough to live within 10 blocks of Thelewala, you can even place a delivery order online. With inexpensive prices, a welcoming and neighborly vibe, and the brightest, richest flavor around, Thelewala may become your new go-to Indian option.