610 SE 10th Ave., Hillsboro, 214-4858, maharajahillsboro.com.
[CAPTIVATING CURRY] Downtown Hillsboro is a schlep from anywhere east of Beaverton, but first-rate northern Indian food awaits urbanites willing to make the hike. And don't be deterred by the sad-looking building, between McDonald's and a scruffy Econo Lodge. The lamb coconut masala ($11.95) is sublime, featuring tender chunks of lamb in rich, golden gravy; chicken vindaloo ($9.99) can be amped to perspiratory intensity; and the shahi paneer ($10.95), Indian cheese in a moderately spiced tomato-based gravy, is a welcome switch from the ubiquitous palak paneer (cheese with creamed spinach). The range of Indian breads on the menu is impressive, but plain parantha (whole wheat, ghee-brushed flat bread, $2.50) tops the list. Garlic naan ($2.95) isn't too bad, either. For Indian pickle fans, it has the salty-spicy house mix ($1.50), and while you're at it, a not-too-sweet mango chutney ($1.50). The menu is long and varied—with dishes available mild, medium or hot—reminiscent of a London curry house circa 1980, before all the cheap ethnic joints were priced out of the West End.
Ideal Meal: Mix and match from the many choices. For omnivores: at least one lamb, one chicken and one vegetable curry and rice, pickles and bread.
Best deal: The all-you-can-eat lunch buffet ($8.95) brings out the deal seekers.
Pro Tip: Unless you are a real baby or a hardcore pepper-head, ordering dishes "moderate" brings the right degree of heat.
11:30 am-2:30 pm and 5-9:30 pm daily. $-$$.