At first glance, you might not spot this nugget amid the new construction and chain restaurants dotting Hyde Park’s bustling 53rd Street. But if Rajun Cajun were easy to find, it wouldn’t be a hidden gem, which is exactly what this 23-year-old cafeteria-style neighborhood mainstay is. Don’t let the name fool you, either—not a trace of bayou cooking here.
Instead, you can go south of the Mason-Dixon with three pieces of crisp fried chicken sided by slow-stewed greens, rice, and a moist corn muffin ($6.25). Or travel to India with tender lamb immersed in warming sweet curry ($12.99, with vegetables, flatbread, a samosa, and rice). Be sure to try at least one earthy delight from the subcontinent, such as the classic saag paneer (spinach and Indian cheese) or chana masala, the Punjabi dish that blends tender chickpeas, spinach, and tomatoes in a heady curry perfumed with cardamom and ginger. (Both are available in three sizes: small, $1.99; medium, $2.99; large, $4.99.)
Pace yourself. The upbeat pulse of Bollywood music may induce faster-than-usual eating. 1459 E. 53rd St., 773-955-1145