An Indian restaurant has opened on Main Street in Cortez.
Mirch Masala held its grand opening on Nov. 10, after moving into the space formerly occupied by Nero’s Italian Restaurant. The manager, Sam Kumar, said he has been in the restaurant business for about 10 years, working in multiple establishments from Massachusetts to Texas. His Cortez restaurant serves South Indian-style food, which Kumar said includes many gluten free and vegan recipes.
Kumar said his last job was operating a cell phone business in Farmington, New Mexico, but he sold it in order to open his own restaurant. He settled on Cortez because of its position on a highway, and because there would be little competition from other South Indian restaurants.
“There are lots of tourists coming here, so that’s the main concern why I opened here,” he said.
In October, Kumar leased the Main Street building, which Nero’s had vacated earlier in the year, and moved into town along with several members of his family. They spent about a month repainting and repairing the interior before the grand opening.
While Mirch Masala isn’t the first Indian restaurant to land in Cortez, Kumar said most others serve food based on North Indian cuisine, which differs from his cooking style. Some of the most popular dishes on the menu so far, he said, include the lamb keema dosa, a spicy dish served with a kind of rice pancake, and lamb pepper fry. The restaurant’s name comes from a mixture of spices used in many Indian dishes.
About 70 percent of the entries on the menu are gluten-free, Kumar said, and several are vegan.
He and his family haven’t been in Cortez long, but he said they have a good impression of it so far.
“Cortez is good,” he said. “People are friendly, people like to try different kinds of food, and we are getting good feedback.”
Right now his family makes up most of the restaurant’s staff, but Kumar said he hopes to hire more servers soon. Mirch Masala is open Tuesday through Sunday, and offers carry-out dishes. Kumar said he hopes to add a buffet to the restaurant.