[EVG file photo]
Rachel Pelz files a long read at Thrillist on the growing appeal of Panna II Garden, the parlor-floor Indian restaurant at 93 First Ave. near Sixth Street, in a piece titled "One of NYC’s Worst-Reviewed Restaurants Is Also the Hottest Table in Town."
The place has been around for 30-plus years, and is mostly known for BYOB and a room full of twinkling lights that New York magazine once likened to eating inside a Christmas tree ... not to mention its competitive stair greeters battling neighbors Milon, Spice Wala and Royal Bangladesh.
However reasonably priced the menu items, the food is wholly mediocre at Panna II, as New York notes.
There are so many better places to eat. Still, of late, the lines seems to be getting longer outside.
To the article...
So why are tourists and New Yorkers beating down the door to get into a spot with middling food and coarse service? Because its luminous, rainbow-hued interior looks incredible on Instagram. The decor doesn’t just make up for the food; it justifies its existence.
Apparently singer-actress Vanessa Hudgens helped start the Instagram craze with a four-photo post to her 30.4 million followers last December.
Soon, Instagram exploded with #pannaii pictures of influencers and wannabe-influencers lit red and gold and green. The hashtag, which now has more than 2,000 posts, is an endless scroll of colorful lights with hardly a samosa in sight.
The owner's take...
"A lot of people are coming in and taking pictures. In '17, it got popular on Instagram, and it still is today. It’s still famous. You get all these international people who come because of Instagram," says Boshir Khan, Panna II Garden’s 44-year-old current owner.
And a discerning patron...
Alexandra Lacorne, who’s been waiting an hour to celebrate her 27th birthday with a group of girlfriends ... can’t wait to get inside. “It’s my first time at Panna,” she says. “I don’t care about the food. I’m in it for the lights and the drinks and that’s it.”
Oh, and how's that food?
Panna II’s late in life, juggernaut success makes it vulnerable to the internet’s seemingly unending supply of armchair reviewers. A search of its 902 Yelp reviews offers 66 results for “terrible,” 37 results for “horrible,” 110 results for “bad,” 76 for “worst,” and, blessedly, only one result for “diarrhea.”