Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Jeremy
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If you've ever driven up McKnight Road, you have likely noticed Taj Mahal and possibly did not give it a second thought. But this rather unassuming Indian restaurant in the North Hills is worth abandoning your original plans, pulling a u-turn, and stopping for a meal.
In fact, to say this particular spot has a die-hard following who would do just this is an understatement. It is incredibly popular, and whether you visit for their buffet or to place a dinner order for takeaway, be prepared for a crowd.
Taj Mahal Offers a Monstrous Indian Menu
When it comes to Taj Mahal's menu, it is massive. We say this without the slightest bit of exaggeration.
They have vegetarian appetizers like samosas and paani puri, a decent South Indian selection of idly and dosa, non-vegetarian appetizers, a full chaat menu, soups and salads, kathi rolls, many tandoori entrees, rice-based dishes, curries, and even some Indo-Chinese cuisine too.
For our first takeout order, we attempted to get a cross-section of food from all of these categories and simply couldn't do it all. We ended up ordering enough for six servings (three full feasts each) and still missed out on some categories like the kathi rolls and tandoori. Specifically, our order included channa chaat, masala dosa, paneer tikka masala, rogan josh, and gobi manchurian- a feast indeed.
We did not set out to order this much food, because we assumed some of the dishes, like the channa chaat and gobi manchurian, were more like sides. So you can imagine our surprise when we realized they were almost the size of our mains and resulted in the feast we reference time and time again.
With regard to flavors, it is really hard to beat Taj Mahal as every dish was perfectly seasoned and not lacking for flavor. The channa chaat had a nice kick from the onions and spices, the tikka masala had strong tomato flavors, and the spices in the rogan josh were just as aromatic as you would hope. Repeat this with just about every dish we had and you can see why we enjoy this one so much.
Our one caveat here would be with the dosa, if only just because this particular item does not travel as well as others. Depending on how far you have to drive, you may want to put this one on your in-house dining radar only.
Don't Miss Out on Their Buffet Too
Depending on how you order food when dining out, the large portions at Taj Mahal may give you a moment of pause. Do you need an entree size chanaa chaat or gobi manchurian? The answer, to us, is a resounding yes. But you may not feel the same and the restaurant does not seem to offer smaller portions as an option.
In these instances, an alternative would be to visit for their lunch or dinner buffet. The reason for this is primarily because the buffet contains a decent cross-section of their menu, served all-you-can-eat, and is priced just about the same as to what our meal averaged out to on its own.
In fact, we even joked that our plate of takeout (above) looked virtually identical to that from the buffet (below).
Sure, we ended up getting three full meals each out of this order, but we were also stuck with the same items. If you are interested in trying even more, the buffet will allow you to have appropriately sized bites of almost everything and let you go back for more of what you enjoyed the most.
As such, we highly encourage you to visit Taj Mahal twice. First to try out their lunch or dinner buffet and try out your favorite dishes (and throw a few new ones into the mix as well). Then, once you know what items you would eat an entire tray of, return for a dinner visit and order a feast.
No matter what you do, you will not be disappointed. But when you have these opportunities available for you, why not do both?
We did, and plan on alternating between the two many more times in the future. Consider us on the long list of die-hards that know the glory of Taj Mahal.
Taj Mahal is located at 7795 McKnight Road in Pittsburgh's North Hills.