The butter chicken at 5 Rivers Indian Cuisine in Everett is a bestseller. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

The butter chicken at 5 Rivers Indian Cuisine in Everett is a bestseller. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

5 Rivers Indian Cuisine, Tía Lety reopen in Everett after devastating fire

The Snohomish County dining scene regained the Indian and Mexican eateries in September.

EVERETT — Five months after a fire shuttered 5 Rivers Indian Cuisine, the south Everett eatery has reopened for takeout and delivery, along with neighboring Tía Lety Tamaleria Y Taqueria.

The single-alarm fire badly damaged the strip mall on Evergreen Way, forcing small-business owners to shut down their livelihoods for months on end.

5 Rivers owners Baljit Kaur and Swaran Singh are getting the word out that their Indian eatery is back, but the reopening process has been slow.

“When you stop the business, it’s not easy to get the customer to come back,” Baljit said, standing in her gutted dining room.

On April 14, a fire broke out on the building’s lower level, then traveled up to the second-story restaurant and into 5 Rivers’ 100-seat dining room. The blaze burned through electrical wires and lapped at the ceiling, causing rain to leak through and ruin the floors. Swaran had been cooking when the fire broke out. He rushed out of the building with his family.

While the dining room is in need of serious repairs, the kitchen was largely untouched.

The Kaur family stands in front of their Everett restaurant, 5 Rivers Indian Cuisine on Sept. 21. From left to right: Bhupinder Singh, Baljit Kaur, Lovepreet Singh and Swaran Singh. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

The Kaur family stands in front of their Everett restaurant, 5 Rivers Indian Cuisine on Sept. 21. From left to right: Bhupinder Singh, Baljit Kaur, Lovepreet Singh and Swaran Singh. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

In September, Snohomish Health District granted the couple a permit to offer takeout and delivery, Baljit said. Still, they are anxiously waiting for their insurance to kick in so they can start rebuilding the dining area.

“We are so sad thinking about what happened,” Baljit said of the fire. “The last four months have been terrible. Our whole family’s survival is based on this business.”

5 Rivers opened in late 2019, right before the pandemic hit. Customers were greeted with deep red and orange curries, family-sized garlic naan and steaming heaps of biryani. Swaran was a chef for other businesses in the area for several years, but his dream had always been to open his own restaurant.

An April fire caused major damage to 5 Rivers Indian Cuisine, forcing the Everett restaurant to close its dining area. 5 Rivers reopened in September, and is currently offering takeout only. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

An April fire caused major damage to 5 Rivers Indian Cuisine, forcing the Everett restaurant to close its dining area. 5 Rivers reopened in September, and is currently offering takeout only. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

The Indian restaurant was named after the five major rivers flowing through Punjab, the Kaur and Singh family’s home state in India. 5 Rivers serves a variety of Indian cuisine, including biryani (a fragrant rice dish), house-made flatbreads like naan and paratha (my personal favorite, especially when stuffed with spiced potatoes), tandoori-style meats, fiery vindaloo (cool down from this dish with a mango lassi) and their bestseller: butter chicken.

Don’t overlook the veggie cutlet appetizer, especially if you like samosas: These crispy patties have a breaded and fried outer layer with a creamy spiced potato and veggie mixture inside. Dunk it in their tamarind sauce and thank me later.

Their expansive menu also includes a mix of Mediterranean plates (yes, you can order baba ghanouj and shish kabob alongside pakora and jalfrezi under one roof.)

The gorditas at Tía Lety in Everett are stuffed with your choice of meat, refried beans, pico de gallo, lettuce and a flurry of cotija. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

The gorditas at Tía Lety in Everett are stuffed with your choice of meat, refried beans, pico de gallo, lettuce and a flurry of cotija. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

Hungry for Mexican food? Head next door to Tía Lety, which reopened Sept. 10 after the fire. You can order takeout or dine in. I stopped by for lunch and scanned their menu — tacos, quesadillas, burritos, tortas, huarache (all of which you can get birria-style) — before settling on the gorditas ($11 for two). These thick, masa (ground corn) tortillas are filled with meat, beans, pico de gallo, lettuce and a flurry of cotija. I got them with steak, as the employee I ordered from said the carne asada was her favorite. “Gordita,” by the way, appropriately translates to “chubby.”

I dined in, so when my order came out, so too did a generous bottle each of green and red salsa. I also snagged their namesake tamales ($2.50 each) to go.

Later that evening, I returned to the strip mall to pick up my dinner from 5 Rivers (their chili masala with paneer, if you were curious). Swaran cooked in the kitchen while his son, Bhupinder Singh, handled takeout orders in the front. While we chatted, a man walked in to pick up his order. Bhupinder recognized him immediately.

“Welcome back,” he said, shaking the man’s hand. “Thank you. I appreciate you.”

5 Rivers Indian Cuisine and Tía Lety Tamaleria Y Taqueria reopened in September, five months after a fire caused damage to the restaurants and other small businesses in the south Everett strip mall. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

5 Rivers Indian Cuisine and Tía Lety Tamaleria Y Taqueria reopened in September, five months after a fire caused damage to the restaurants and other small businesses in the south Everett strip mall. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)

If you go

5 Rivers Indian Cuisine

9629 Evergreen Way #201, Everett

Contact: (425) 212-9952

Website: https://5riversindiancuisine.business.site

Tía Lety Tamaleria Y Taqueria

9629 Evergreen Way, Everett

Contact: (425) 322-4701

Social media: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064143244901

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