One of the favorite parts of Pardeep Sharma’s job is talking to his old customers – especially since they’re adults now, and they’re bringing their children into his restaurant.

“They come here to see me, and remind me what they did when they were little and they came here with their parents,” says Sharma, the co-owner of the India Palace, a Preston Hollow mainstay at LBJ and Preston Road since 1985. “Now, they are in college or have children of their own. They remind me about all of the mischief they did, like getting under the tables when their parents were eating. And then they’re trying to prevent their children from doing the same thing.”

India Palace has been a gathering place for lunch and dinner almost from the day it opened, a mix of Anglos and Asians, neighborhood people and business diners (at one table, several men were speaking French), and families, young and old.

“That was always my plan,” says Pardeep, whose partner Sada Sharma runs the kitchen, which specializes in northern Indian cuisine. “I wanted a mixed crowd, and I wanted families, and especially families from the neighborhood.”

That was part of Sharma’s plan when he arrived in Dallas from New York in the early 1980s to run an Indian restaurant for a friend. It was part of the plan when he opened his first restaurant in 1982, Kebab-N-Kurry in Richardson (which he sold in 1989). It was one reason why he closed the Bombay Cricket Club on lower McKinney a couple of years ago – “not enough family business at dinner,” he says.

And what the families like are the food, which has always been among the best Indian fare in Dallas, and the atmosphere. The walls are dominated by hand paintings by Indian folk artists. Peach pastels, combined with small kerosene lamps at each table, suggest a feeling of warmth. Says Sharma: “Our interior is light, soothing, relaxed. That’s how I like it.”

The menu reflects Sharma’s New Delhi upbringing, featuring tandoori chicken, lamb curry, saag paneer (stir-fried spinach mixed with Indian cheese), and mango lasso, best described as a mango yogurt shake.

The method is to combine fresh ingredients with the subtle spicing that makes each dish stand out.

“Our food is very healthy, and there is no fat,” Sharma says. “You don’t need broth to make food flavorful, you need spices. And we use our own recipes, and all of our food is fresh. Nothing is frozen.”

Is it any wonder the kids keep coming back, and bringing their children?

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