As any serious drinker knows, a long night of boozing is best ended with a heaping helping of carbohydrates. One good place to get your fill is the East Village deli called Punjab, which stays open into the wee hours to serve its clientele of Pakistani cabbies. But late-night Lower East Side revelers have also discovered the cheap vegetarian chow. There are potatoes over rice, potatoes wrapped in bread (roti, $2.50), potato patties (aloo tikki, $.75), or potatoes encased in fried dough (samosa, $.75). The samosas make for an ideal snack (chaat) anytime. A crisp, delectably greasy, well-browned crust wraps chunks of potatoes and green peas. Like everything at Punjab, it’s suffused with just the right amount of heat. Right after you’ve wolfed down the last bite, a slow burn creeps up, just this side of painful.
Compared to other delis that cater to the Pakistani taxi trade, Punjab is friendlier to outsiders. The menu is printed in English, the foods in the case are labeled by number, and it’s not unusual to spot a woman tucking in to a bowl of curry here. It’s worth visiting even if you haven’t had one too many; in fact, then you might actually taste more.