Himalaya Restaurant in Houston, Texas

With a huge sign visible from Highway 59, Himalaya beckons commuters to take the Hillcroft exit off the freeway and into a nondescript strip mall that houses an Indian tailor and South Asian grocery store. The neighborhood here, known as the Mahatma Gandhi District, is a hub for Houston’s robust Indian and Pakistani community. 

Opened in 1992 by Pakistani American immigrant Kaiser Lashkari—who previously studied medicine before finding his calling in hospitality—Himalaya is the enclave’s most creative and iconic eatery. The restaurant is known for dishes like lamb biryani and chicken hara masala, which adopts some Texan influence through the use of tomatillo peppers. Then there’s the fried chicken, marinated in Indian spices but fried Southern-style. 

But chef Lashkari’s pièce de résistance is Himalaya’s signature hunter’s beef, an Indian riff on pastrami or corned beef. To prepare the dish, a large block of beef is brined in a spice blend, then diced and sautéed in butter, chili powder, and more spices. It’s served hot or cold with fresh tomatoes and a mustard sauce. 

Himalaya’s reputation was further cemented after it received a visit from Anthony Bourdain in 2016. And in 2019, Lashkari was a James Beard Award semifinalist. Over a decade since opening, Lashkari, along with his wife and business partner, Azra, still work at the restaurant daily, greeting diners and cracking jokes.

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