Tucked away among rows of fast food chains, Zeera Indian Restaurant offers a break from the suburban norm. Located in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina (about a half hour south of the capital city of Raleigh), my fiancé and I found solace through its doors on a cold, rainy Friday night.
The place was seriously hopping and we hadn’t made a reservation, but we only had to wait five minutes to sit at a high top table. Ice water in nice glasses was poured and white scalloped paper placemats were offered, much to my delight as an introvert because I like to doodle, draw cute and funny things, and play Hangman in between conversation. We had taken a look at the menu on my phone to check out prices on the drive to the restaurant, but the physical menu was easy to understand, too, and if you split a meal and drink between two people, it averaged $15-$20 total. (Life hack: only ordering one soda and two waters per couple can save you $2-$4 each time you go out– that adds up when you are trying to save pennies anywhere you can but still enjoy date nights.)
Coca-Cola and chicken tikka masala
We decided on a regular Coca-Cola and chicken tikka masala and thanked our waiter, who was super down-to-earth. I got a couple pens out of my jean jacket so my fiancé and I could take advantage of the free paper, started drawing hearts, linked feet with him to bring us closer, and observed more of what was going on around me. There was a bar to the left of us with two televisions on the wall that seemed to allow people to escape into a gameshow or the news for a little while during dinner if they wished. Behind us was a tantalizing buffet cart that was empty and cleaned off, putting the idea out there to come back during the day to try a bunch of different dishes. All around were families chatting, children laughing or drawing or shrieking with delight, silent couples sliding through their phones, carry out orders being fulfilled and taken away, and floral art prints. So much was going on, a hum of collective noises and voices, but nothing was too overwhelming to the point where it was taking away from my experience.
Our food arrived and we were starstruck. A quick shuffle of our glasses and we were able to divvy out equal portions of basmati rice and curry to each other. The rice was fragrant and truly perfect, and the chicken tikka masala was rich and enriched my soul as I ate it. More like, devoured it. We quickly went through what was on our plates and laughed as I asked him, “Do you want more?”, to which he responded, “Of course!” After mixing the food together again, I decided to take a slower approach to my meal, and it made me appreciate the company, spices, and textures even more.
We completely finished every single bite.
Eating at Zeera (which I learned means “cumin”) allowed us to have a quick and fun adventure together in Small Town, USA. There is no place like it around, and I appreciate that so much. Next time, I’d splurge and get a couple orders of naan bread to sop up the plate when I’m done, call ahead to make a reservation so I can sit right next to my fiancé at a shorter table, and check out that buffet, too. They close every day between 2:30/3:00PM & 5:00PM or drive over to 1311 E Broad St, Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526 to be instantly surrounded with buzzing energy and flavor-balanced food.