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EATING OUT A guide to local restaurants and cafes Stone Hearth Indian Cafe Stone Hearth Indian Cafe, in downtown Waco, brings an authentic Indian flavor to those wanting to step out for lunch, dinner or even a late night snack. Located at 506 Austin Ave., patrons can walk up to the counter and order fastcasual authentic Indian food in a relaxed environment. Seating is available both indoor and on the front patio. Owner and general manager Roshan Thakor , “We offer authentic flavor with a touch of modern flair,” adding that the food is prepared from scratch using no preservatives or additives. Most menu items are made-to-order to the customer’s desired spice level. The “Spice Flare” system at Stone Hearth includes mild, medium, authentic, hot and extreme. Thakor said the spice level is key for those trying Indian food for the first time. “Controlling the spice is important, and customers ask about this all the time,” he said. Newcomers can learn a little about the cuisine from the menu itself. Words like “tawa” (a pan used on the streets of India) and “tandoor” (an ancient tempered clay oven used by the people of India that provides rich smoky food) are explained per menu section. Most items also include a list of their ingredients. Thakor said the restaurant uses local sourcing for most foods, as well as vegetables grown on rainwater farms. In fact, he owns his own goat farm and can custom-order meats to be used per availability. “We use fresh ingredients and stay away from canned or preserved food,” he said. Thakor added that by nature, Indian food offers healthy options for those with specific dietary needs. He said customers wanting gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options likely will be happy with the variety of choices. One of the most popular dishes at Stone Hearth is tikka masala, a curry cream with tomatoes, onions and spices served with a choice of protein and starch. Proteins on the menu include steak, chicken, lamb, goat and paneer – a cheese that is common in South Asia. Starches to choose from are white or brown rice, and pulao – a pilaf mix of peas, carrots, cashews, raisins and cloves. For dessert, Thakor said customers often choose galub jamun (fried milk cakes soaked in saffron, rose water and caramelized syrup) or ras malai (sweet cheesecakes soaked in creamy milk sauce and containing cardamom). There is a “smaller fare” section of the menu that includes a sample plate of the featured offerings, called Taste of India. This includes saosas (stuffed, fried pastry), pakoras (deep-fried fritters) and surati potatoes (fried, spherical potato patties). “People are coming to the area and visiting, and they’re looking for diversity,” Thakor said. “We’re able to provide that but also just a different choice for food in Waco.” Stone Hearth Indian Cafe 506 Austin Ave. • 254-339-1706 Mon-Sun, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m

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