For a short time in 2018, Namkeen served South Indian street food that became a cult favorite among fans looking for something a little different in Indian cuisine. But Namkeen's slot at the back of Zeppelin Station's food hall made it tough to get the word — and the food — out to a larger audience. The quality and originality of chef Cindhura Reddy's menu, though, have not been forgotten.
Reddy also runs Spuntino, the neighborhood Italian eatery at 2639 West 32nd Avenue, with her husband, Elliot Strathmann, and the two have occasionally hosted Namkeen pop-up dinners at the restaurant. But now they're bringing most of the South Indian menu back for takeout customers, beginning this Friday, December 11.
"I just find that it lends itself better to takeout," Reddy explains of the Namkeen menu, which includes samosas, gobi 65 (fried cauliflower in a turmeric-based sauce), methi chicken (made with fenugreek and caramelized onions), chana masala (a spicy chickpea stew) and several sides and desserts. Dishes come with cumin basmati rice, and fresh-baked roti flatbread can also be added. "Namkeen means 'snacks' in Hindi, and Spuntino means the same thing in Italian, so this gives our guests another way to enjoy our approach to dining," the chef adds.
And a new dish, a sixteen- to eighteen-ounce braised Colorado lamb shank served with rice, roti, raita, pickles and chutneys, will be available for guests dining at the restaurant or ordering to go. The dish is built for two or three people for $52.
Since June, Spuntino has been an outdoor-only restaurant, with covered seating in the restaurant's parking lot. The series of tent-like structures meets the Colorado Department of Health and Environment's standards for outdoor seating (open on two opposite sides) while being large and spacious enough to seat several tables of small groups. Strathmann says that industrial heaters keep the space comfortable even when the outside temperature dips to about 20 degrees, while keeping air circulating for a safe dining experience.
Strathmann and Reddy, along with the rest of the Spuntino team, have dealt with wind storms, snow damage to the tents and even a recent power outage while continuing to adjust their service and menu to meet customer needs safely. "So much of this has allowed us to step back and be thankful for what we have — and to thank our team for working so hard," Strathmann notes.
Many of the changes have been designed to encourage smaller parties at the restaurant and to give more options to customers eating at home, he adds. To keep the kitchen running efficiently, Reddy has trimmed back the regular Spuntino menu a little.
Spuntino is currently open from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday (9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday), with sidewalk pick-up and outdoor dining (reservations strongly recommended). The restaurant also handles its own delivery within a three-mile radius at no charge for orders of $50 or more. The new Namkeen and Spuntino menus debut online on Friday.
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