By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 18, 2021 at 11:01 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

If you haven’t gotten a taste of Ruta’s Vibrant Indian Cafe at Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave., put it on your list as a stop for Asian Restaurant Week, which runs through May 22. It’s guaranteed to give you a new view of Indian fare [more on that here].

The menu at the cafe – which is located in the former Frida’s stall at the East Side food hall – features Indian-inspired takes on classic cafe offerings (think: sandwiches, soups and salads), plus inspired Indian bowls that serve to highlight the traditional flavors of regional Indian fare. Even better, it’s an easy choice for both meat eating and vegetarian and vegan diners.

Looking for a quick sandwich? There are numerous options from turkey with tomato chutney to the BELT, a take on the classic BLT featuring an egg and housemade chili sauce. Or, you could opt for the beautiful, textural Monsoon Rainbow featuring red hummus, fresh vegetables and greens ($12). 

Monsoon Rainbow sandwich
Monsoon Rainbow sandwich

Both familiar and decidedly different, this fresh take on the classic hummus and vegetable sandwich shines thanks to soft slices of freshly baked bread and the addition of delightful house made pickled vegetables, which are just as good on their own as added to the sandwich for a beautiful acidic pop.

If you are a fan of fresh, herbal tisanes, you’ll enjoy Ruta’s Immuni-Tea, a house-blended Ayurvedic infusion with notes of ginger and turmeric. It’s a beautifully refreshing brew that’s enhanced by the aromatics of fresh lemon and herbs ($3.75).

If you love Indian fare and are in the mood for something more substantial, look toward the Indian bowls section of the menu, which features choices like Andhra chicken curry; a vegan bowl with black-eyed pea curry; or Goa pork, which is served with rice and kale slaw ($16). 

Goa Pork Bowl
Goa Pork Bowl

Imagine slow cooked pork bathed in a flavorful, slightly spicy sauce that’s redolent with warming Indian spices, turmeric and chilis. Then pair that with a refreshingly crisp kale slaw that offers texture, lightness and a fresh pop to the otherwise comforting meat dish.

If you are craving something sweet, Ruta’s also delivers on that front. During our recent trip, there was chocolate ganache bread pudding with caramel sauce ($4.50), which had all the comfort of the classic dessert with a balanced sweetness, a bit of warm spice and just enough rich  chocolate to make it feel like a bit of an indulgence. 

Chocolate bread pudding at Ruta'sX

Ruta’s is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Both dine-in and carry-out are available.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.