Gopal Vegetarian Restaurant sits right off State Highway 75 in Richardson and is the definition of a hole in the wall. Open since 1991, it serves South and West Indian food.
Gopal is small and clean; there are no more than 12 tables. Ambiance and decorating are clearly not a priority in this space. Don’t let that turn you away, though. Gopal's vegetarian Indian food is flavorful and very inexpensive. The restaurant specializes in Gujarati Thali, a cuisine of Gujarat, a state in Western India, that involves a variety of small dishes served on a platter.
Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted, and our helpful, attentive server enthusiastically recommended the Gujarati Thali ($12.99), enough to serve two people. He explained it would come as a selection of dishes, so it would be perfect to experience a variety. He added an extra samosa to our order so we could each try one.
Gopal doesn’t always offer the same dishes in the Gujarati Thali; they're consistently switched up. Ours came with three types of bread: crispy papad, roti and methi paratha (fenugreek flatbread). Rice was piled in the center of the metal tray. Other items included were dahi vada — fried flour balls in a thick, spiced yogurt sauce — and Gujarati dal, a dish made with split peas and peanuts.
The samosas are deep-fried but not greasy and are stuffed with potatoes and peas. Our server brought over a sweet tamarind chutney for dipping.
There is such variety of flavor and texture in the Gujarati Thali, you don’t miss meat.
Our server came back a few times to check on us and worried that the food was too spicy. While it had a bit of a kick, it certainly wasn’t overwhelming. But metal water pitchers and metal cups are given to every table just in case.
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While the highlight of Gopal is its Gujarati Thali, it also has individual dishes and a long list of shuruvat (appetizers). Nothing on the shuruvat menu is over $7.99. Aloo tikki ($5.99) is two potato patties served with garbanzo beans, gravy, onion and chutney. Pau bhaji ($5.99) is a thick vegetable curry, fried and served with a soft bread roll. From the South Indian side of the menu, try the meduvada ($3.99 for three), a popular fast food dish of deep-fried lentil cakes.
Gopal also offers tiffin service, a light midday meal served in individual, stackable metal containers — essentially a lunchbox.
As we left, our server said that the next time we visited, he would recommend something different. If you visit, don’t make the mistake of going on a Tuesday, as we did initially. It’s the only day of the week Gopal is closed.
Gopal Vegetarian Restaurant, 125 S. Central Expressway, Richardson