Mr Foodie here.

When Ms Foodie and I moved to Southside last year, we asked around for tips on great places to eat. One of the things we noticed right away is that our neighborhood has a great international vibe. My guess is this has to do with UAB drawing students and faculty from all over the world. So when we found a hidden ethnic food gem right around the corner we were not surprised.

We started hearing about a place called Wilson’s Market, which we were told sells homemade samosas by the dozen. We then realized we live just a block away. It took us nearly this whole year to figure the place out-so we figured we would pass that knowledge along to you, our loyal readers, so you can begin enjoying the wonders of Wilson’s right away.

Wilsons is mysterious. Like a turducken, or a riddle wrapped in an enigma. I think it can be best described as an Indian carry-out restaurant wrapped in a Wal-Mart wrapped in an Indian grocery store wrapped in a convenience store. Read on.

Wilson’s Market in Southside is located in a simple brick building across the street from Dreamland BBQ and next to a laundromat. At first glance it looks like a typical convenience store.

IMG_3277-0.JPG

When you walk in, there is a cash register with snacks on the counter, large soda cases, and an ice cream freezer is visible along the wall – a convenience store. When you walk up and down the aisles, you find paper towels, pet food, and dish soap. A Wal-Mart. But then you notice the indian frozen food and the large bags of a dozen varieties of rice and lentils. An Indian grocery store. And then there’s this:

IMG_3278.JPG

Yup. Wilson’s is a foodie gem hiding in plain sight. This part of the operation is called “Wilson’s Hot and Sweet Cafe.”

At this point, I think I need to take a moment to comment on where the food in the cases comes from and how you procure the food. We were told awhile ago that you can either eat what is in the case, you can call a day ahead for a custom order, or you can eat in and they will heat it up. I know the call ahead thing sounds a little unusual but we plan to try this for a party this winter so we will comment more on that in a future post. As far as the case goes they don’t always seem to have the same items and they don’t always have rice. If they don’t have rice when you stop by ask about their Naan.

I walked over to Wilson’s on my lunch break this past week. I grabbed some chicken tikka masala from the refrigerator case and the gentleman working behind the cash register suggested I try the beef samosas. These were in the heated clear box on the counter a bit to the left of the register. I had not noticed these before and I was really excited to try them.

When I got home, I plated them. [Ms Foodie’s editorial comment: isn’t this picture like a work of art?]

IMG_3279.JPG

I started with the beef samosa. I bit in with a satisfying crunch through several crispy layers of dough. The ground beef was light and had a nice heat to it that was not overpowering. You could still thoroughly enjoy the flavors of the beef, onions, and spices combining with the dough in your mouth. Great texture and flavor all around with minimal grease. A really fantastic samosa. Mine was still warm from the case as I ate it right away but if you are taking it home remember to use your toaster oven to preserve the crispy quality of the dough.

IMG_3280.JPG

On to the Chicken Tikka Masala. It has an almost slightly smoky taste. The chicken is juicy and flavorful with the right amount of heat to it. The sauce has a tomato and herb base with a variety of Indian spices making for a complex but well balanced flavor. I liked the sauce so much I will admit I spread it on crackers after all the chicken was gone.

IMG_3281.JPG

One serving of Chicken Tikka Masala lasted for three lunches. What a great value.

If you don’t want to do carry out, there are a few booths and they’ll even microwave it for you.

So in sum, check out this unexpected foodie find. I know it sounds a little unconventional, and it is, but hey, that’s why you keep coming back to read this blog, right? So you can brag to your friends that you ate at an Indian restaurant in a Wal-mart in an Indian grocery, all wrapped up in a convenience store.

Wilson's Hot and Sweet Cafe on Urbanspoon