Let’s get a few things straight about BBQ Nation Indian Grill.
There’s no barbecued pork on the menu. There is, however, a spot on every table for a charcoal grill.
While the building’s shape resembles its former fast-food occupant, the interior offers an appealing space, with chandeliers and a huge mural designed in India.
And while the owners are certainly passionate about their food, they aren’t long-time restauranteurs. They have master’s degrees in computer science, which has helped them bring a high-tech taste to their eatery.
Those are the driving forces behind BBQ Nation, an uncommon foodie find for the Triad—whether you’re new to Indian cuisine or looking for a rare ancestral flavor.
“We want to make sure people here enjoy authentic Indian food,” says Sri Edupuganti, who helps run the restaurant with her husband, brother-in-law and other family members. “People were eating at places that they thought were authentic; now they’re eating it here and really know what Indian food is like.”
BBQ Nation Indian Grill sits beside N.C. 68 in north High Point, not far from Interstate 40, in what used to be a KFC. Edupuganti and her family have been in the Triad for about a decade, and often spent part of their weekend driving to Charlotte or Raleigh for the Indian food they craved. The long trips left them wondering why they couldn’t find the menus they desired closer to home.
That led to action and a meticulously-crafted restaurant. The centerpiece—literally—is the portable grill that can be placed at the center of your table. Order skewers of meat, vegetables or fruit, and they’re precooked in the kitchen, then brought to you atop the grill. Available for dinner and on weekends, they feature dishes such as Hariyali Chicken, vegetarian options like Paneer Tikka, or fruit including pineapple or watermelon.
Dinner is à la carte, with plenty of Indian staples and some rare finds. Biryani is a popular choice. It’s a rice-based dish that’s available in more than a dozen options, including Ulavacharu and other Goat Dum variations that are hard to find elsewhere, Edupuganti says. There are curries—such as chicken cooked in a spicy, traditional Andhra-style gravy—and classics like Chicken Tikka Masala.
You can also find plenty of regional options for dinner, with Indo Chinese specials and entrees from Southern and Northern India. One crowd-pleasing South Indian entree is the Dosa, which is somewhere between a pancake and a crepe. There are plenty of options for fillings, from the Spring Dosa (vegetables and cheese) to the Chicken Tikka Dosa. They come with chutneys for dipping. And like most of the menu, be prepared to share your meal with a friend or grab a to-go container for a midnight snack. Want to wow your Instagram followers? Share a snap of your 70 MM Dosa, which literally spans two plates and can feed about four people.
Lunch draws a crowd too, but for a different centerpiece. The buffet, with its hand-written sticky notes identifying each delicacy, features a wall full of weekday and weekend items.
There are staples such as noodles, curry and naan, but the buffet is where the chefs get even more creative. It often features something “more on the ancient side,” Edupuganti says—as in dishes that used to be popular years ago and are reminiscent of a childhood in India. One example: Neeragaram, made from day-old rice soaked in buttermilk, which brought many reactions one afternoon.
“People felt very emotional,” she says. “This is a dish that they remembered from their old days.”
Listening to Edupuganti talk about the buffet is a nod to how tech savvy this IT-working family is. They are active on social media, with videos and photos that promote the day’s lunch buffet items (they have 1,000-plus followers on Facebook in only a few months). Other videos tempt you with colorful deserts and even patrons getting birthday surprises.
You can order food to go using the BBQ Nation NC app (or the restaurant’s website).
Then there’s BBQNation@Work, where you can place an order on certain days and have it delivered to a central location in downtown Greensboro or Winston-Salem. This proved quite popular at times during the snowy winter.
Though new to the business and still learning, the family has big plans for the future. First is the drive-through: Left over from the building’s fast-food days, it soon will be the place to quickly pick up a boxed lunch. They hope to expand BBQ Nation to more cities as well, spreading the unique grill concept and diverse menu.
“We want all cultures to understand what we are about and what we are trying to do,” Edupuganti says.