When the new Indian spot in the skyways popped open earlier this month, I had to try it. Because: What’s up with the Indian food boom in the skyways? Time was there was no good Indian in downtown Minneapolis, now the options are closing in on endless. In my humble opinion, competition for the best of the downtown Indian joints is firmly between Bombay Bistro South Indian (that is, the one on the inside of the building, on the ground-floor skyway; the north Indian one with the windows on the street isn’t as good,) and Dancing Ganesha (when you care enough to walk a few blocks, or, gasp!, re-park your car.)
There’s nothing like cutthroat competition to spur excellence in a food scene, and the Minneapolis skyway Indian situation is suddenly very competitive. (Why? Lots of IT, tech, and computer gurus from overseas who are unsatisfied with the sandwiches from Starbucks. One can’t think why.)
So, this new Ipotli. Cleverly, or maddeningly, named like Chipotle, Ipotli has gone into the old Café de Napoli space (most recently occupied by Vescio’s Trattoria) in the skyway in that little bit of gastronomic gold coast that also holds Zen Box and My Burger (between the Wells Fargo tower and the U.S. Bank/old Pillsbury tower. If none of this makes sense, you obviously don’t live in the cold and efficient habitrail, and you should go read something else.) Not much has changed since the old awful Napoli (I loved the original, the skyway one was the worst generic pre-shredded cheese Italian I ever encountered). The Hotel Naples clock is still hanging on the wall, the booths have a vaguely gondola-evoking feel to them. And my first lunch visit to Ipotli didn’t yield much: Dry mutton biryani, even dryer curried chicken, bland as cream cheese butter chicken, and a gorgeous vegetable curry and some truly beautiful samosas, spiced with nuance and crisp as can be. I vowed to return, and skip the meats and go for the veggies. I made it back for breakfast yesterday and: Grind me with coconut and call me chutney, there’s a miracle on 6th Street. Well, above 6th Street, anyway.
Let me tell you about the spicy dosa. It’s available from 8 to 10 or 10:30 in the morning, and it’s a thin pancake, coated with chili sauce, fused to another thin pancake, and it’s just phenomenal—Spicy, savory, dip it in the fresh cup of cilantro chutney that accompanies it and it’s everything you want in food, zesty, surprising, bright, deep, grand. And only $3.49! I also tried the egg dosa, which was nearly as good. It’s basically a very thin omelet surrounded by a crepe and served with the same magic chutney. It’s delicious. I got a side of chana dal masala with it, and the vegetable and legume stew was everything you’d wish for, fresh spinach, deeply resonant sauce, tender chickpeas, yum, yum, yum.
I’m heretofore giving this spicy dosa from Ipotli my wholehearted recommendation: It’s the best $3.49 you can spend in the skyways today. If you like buffalo wings or anything with that level of salty-spicy-craveableness, get it. As for the rest of Ipotli’s menu, everything I’ve tried so far tells me its magic for vegetarians, not for meat-eaters, but I’m going to give it another try. Or six.
Ipotli Indian Grill, 601 Marquette Ave., Mpls., MN 55402