There is nothing quite like the seductive aroma of Indian cuisine. Its popularity in the US is witness to how inviting its intense flavors and enticing aromas can be. San Franciscans love Indian dishes from every part of the country, as luscious scents waft over our city’s streets where Indian restaurants draw in the crowds.
995 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
The original Dosa gets high praise from its fans with delicious South Indian cuisine and wonderfully original cocktails. The name is from dosa, which is similar to a crepe and made from rice and lentils and served with different fillings, and Dosa has quite a selection of them. In addition, Dosa offers a range of items in small plates, entrees and sides. Vegetarians will love this place as the menu is brimming with non-meat items, plus Dosa happily accommodates various dietary needs, with gluten- or egg- or nut-free items plus vegan choices too. There is a second, larger Dosa at 1700 Fillmore Street that furthers explores South Indian “home-style” cuisine with an amazing array of vegetarian dishes plus more fish and meat plates to focus on the abundantly diverse Southern Indian state’s culinary heritage. Dosa prides itself on serving dishes made chiefly with organic, bio-dynamic, free-range and sustainable ingredients.
680 Valencia St.
San francisco, CA 94110
In addition to the usual suspects of curries, tandooris and naan, Amber Dhara presents dishes that are truly distinctive. Fans enjoy the kale chaat, cauliflower bezoule, turnip butternut squash stew and seasonal local options, such as delicious seafood, leek and fennel soup and even California pear and quinoa salad. Where else can you try duck kebab or a crunchy tofu kebab? Carnivores and vegetarians alike will find a range of unique dishes to order, including laal maas (lamb curry, red chili, spices) and wild boar vindaloo with bacon mash for the meat eaters, and chestnut and mushroom tadka or anjeeri kofta (potato and fig dumplings, cashew, onion and yogurt sauce) for vegetarians. Prices are moderate and good for the quality and attractive surroundings. Plus, happy hour is seven days a week. Visit the website for additional information.
Curry Up Now
659 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Curry Up Now has three restaurants in the Bay Area serving pretty tasty dishes best described as “Indian fusion.” Curry Up Now is also known for having the first Indian food truck in San Francisco. The restaurant toots that it serves Indian chaat street food, like vada pav, papdi chaat, samosas and more. The fusion label comes from the quirky items offered here, such as burritos with an Indian soul ($8), with filling choices that include paneer, lamb, aloo gobi and tofu. Go for the aloo parantha quesadillix ($9) with tikka masala and cheese and jalapeno, or try an order of sexy fries ($6/$8), sweet potato fries with cheese and onions for a change. Check the website for locations and truck schedule.
3180-82 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Pakwan opened in 1999 to serve authentic Pakistani Indian food. Business partners Khalid Amin and Mohammad Shahbaz had a dream of opening an authentic Pakistani Indian restaurant in San Francisco, and their dream became a reality and a popular dining spot. Having grown to four locations within the Bay Area, Pakwan also offers professional catering services for all private and corporate events. As for the food, vegetarians will love this place for its extensive non-meat selections from appetizers, entrees, rice dishes and naan, to traditional desserts. The Pakwan tandoori dishes highlight beef, chicken, lamb and fish, as do the selections of murgh Pakwan (chicken specialties), and everything at inexpensive prices, ($1.50 – $11.99).
25 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
Without a doubt, Amber India tallies in as the absolute best Indian restaurant in the Bay Area. Amber India achieves this exalted state of deliciousness by using the freshest and best ingredients and not relying on a ubiquitous sauce, so taste rules here. This is an attractive restaurant with excellent food and attentive service, but be warned that it is pricey and portions are on the smaller side. The butter chicken ($21.95) is pure heaven, and the kashmiri roganjosh (stewed lamb, ginger, fennel, onions $23.95) is another favorite. The menu covers chicken, lamb and seafood items plus a range of tempting vegetarian options, along with various tandoor selections, rice, dal and tandoor-baked breads. The restaurant offers a weekday lunch buffet ($17.95) and weekend brunch buffet with bottomless mimosas ($22.95). Also here is a weekday happy hour. Visit the website for complete information.
Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.