‘Curry in a Hurry’ With a Family Touch
In a triangular building on the corner of Smithfield and Liberty, a line of hungry customers stretches nearly to the door.
It is lunchtime at Sree’s Authentic Indian Cuisine and two woman are serving up green bean curry, tamarind chicken and tomato dal at a cafeteria-style counter.
A small girl with blue hair ribbons rings up orders as people grab sodas and water from a small fridge. A sign on the counter reads, “Curry in a Hurry,” and Sree’s intends to keep that promise – the wait isn’t long.
Sree’s has been owned and run by Vydehi Mekala for 16 years. She began the restaurant with her husband, Sreevardhan, who recently passed away.
Mekala offers Pittsburgh delicious – and often spicy – Indian food at a bargain price. For $5, customers receive three hearty entrees with naan bread and rice, and there are plenty of options for vegans. All orders, both take-out and sit-down, are served in styrofoam containers.
All of the dishes offered on the menu (which change from day to day) have been carefully prepared by Mekala. “I have an undergraduate degree in nutrition,” she said. “They have no cholesterol, nuts or dairy, with mostly vegan ingredients.”
Sree’s atmosphere is pleasant, but casual, in the way that it reminds one of sitting down in a well-used but loved old home for dinner. Vinyl tables line the walls, close together for family-style dining with both friends and strangers. Plastic forks are on the tables and four garbage cans sit by the door for easy disposal.
Indian fabric, statues of Hindu deities and pictures of the Mekala’s 10-year-old daughter, Sree, serve as décor. A homemade drawing on the wall says, “I love you, delightful awesome daddy.”
“Sometimes I take over when my mom is busy,” said Sree, who handles the cash register and serves food. “My favorite dish is the spinach and black-eyed peas.”
For those craving foreign cuisine, Sree’s is worth paying a visit to, not just because of the low cost. It is charming, a place that believes in the value of a good meal, cooked by a family.
Sree’s Indian Cuisine is located at 701 Smithfield St., a five-minute walk from the convention center. Sree’s is only open for lunch with hours extending from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Only cash is accepted.