The Best Places For Legit Indian Food in San Francisco, California

Across San Francisco you’ll find a variety of Indian food ranging in type, price, and ambience. India is such a large country with so much diversity within its borders. Each state is like its own micro-country with its own language, cuisine and culture. The grand binding trait being religion as the vast majority of Indians are Hindu. In this post I will share several of the best places to get great Indian food in San Francisco, and categorize them for you, so that when you visit, you can select where to go based on location, type of cuisine, and/or ambience.

First let me say that Indian food and Pakistani food are different. This post is about Indian food.

{By Location}

The Mission

Downtown

The Sunset

Pac Heights

Embarcadero/FiDi

{Fine Dining}

{Fancy But Not Quite Fine Dining}

{Casual and Awesome}

{Fast Food}

{Haven’t Been Yet}


About Dosa: Dosa specializes in fusion flavors of India mixed with non-traditionally Indian ingredients. For example truffle oil dosa and a cold chai-vodka cocktail. It’s vegetarian and vegan-friendly. I’m the only person I know that doesn’t like this place. I’ve tried it a couple times just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. The end result is always the same. And this place is kinda $$. They have two locations, 1 in the Mission and Pac Heights and the menus are different.

About Udipi Palace: Udipi is one of my two favorite Indian restaurants in SF. Anyone looking for legit South Indian food, look no further. They have the tastiest dosas and every type you can imagine…and you won’t break your wallet. A masala dosa is $8.50. They’re open from 12p-10p everyday. This place is very casual. And there’s usually a bit of a wait but turnover is pretty good.

IMG_4503
Paper Dosa at Udipi SF

About Curry Up Now: Curry Up Now serves traditional Indian dishes with slight modern twists. The real differentiation is the spunky menu, funky dish names and casual but cool setting in their restaurants. The food is so-so. They’re most popular dishes are non-vegetarian so I’ve never tried them. I tend to go here whenever I’m in the city and want a chai fix, instead of a coffee fix. Though I don’t care for the food all that much, this place captured my heart when I went to get a chai and the server handed me a few Parle G biscuits as well.

About August 1 Five: This restaurant opened last year (2017) and was definitely the talk at parties amongst my friends and I who always share restaurant tips. to say. It’s the first new, nice Indian restaurant to open in SF in a while so I was curious to hear what others had to say about it. Commemorating the day India gained independence from Britain, August 1 Five, is a modern take on a variety of Indian cuisines. They have North Indian, Gujarati, South Indian, French, and American items on the diverse menu. I was pretty disappointed to see how few vegetarian items are on the menu and it’s definitely $$$. I haven’ tried it yet and to be honest not sure I will unless they become more veg-friendly.

About Aslam’s Rasoi is North Indian cuisine: it’s the only place in the Mission to get legit North Indian food. They have several vegetarian options and they can make vegan items as well. Aslam’s is only open for dinner. FYI, rasoi means kitchen…Aslam’s Kitchen. This is a nicer sit-down restaurant. It’s small and usually there’s a bit of a line so get there early when they open at 5pm-11pm everyday. A vegetarian curry costs between $11-$14 and plain naan is $2.

About Raavi North Indian Cuisine: counter served fast food. They have a big menu with lots of vegetarian selections. The prices are pretty good too. A vegetarian curry is $7.50, 1 plain naan, $1 and a soda is $1.50. A simple salad in SF costs a least $12, so not bad value considering the amount of food.

About Dum: Dum means courage in Hindi. This restaurant and food truck serves Mumbai street food. Surprisingly and disappointing, their vegetarian options are pretty sparse but for anyone looking to try Indian street food, especially after a night out drinking this is a great place to go!

About Little Delhi: My husband used to frequent this place for lunch often, as it was near his office. He liked the fast service and good quality food at affordable prices.

About Amber India: This is one of the best Indian restaurants I’ve tried around the world. They’ve mastered delicious food, fun drinks, with great ambience and service. It’s expensive but worth it to splurge every once in a while. You must try their specialty daal that is cooked for hours and hours to bring in the rich and deep flavors. I enjoyed refreshing cocktail as we waited for our table and the fresh, warm naan and plentiful vegetarian options. You can’t beat the location in Yerba Buena Gardens.

About Chaat Corner: For quality, authentic, and inexpensive Indian food I love Chaat Corner. The restaurant is large, so there’s never a wait. I love their chai, pakoras, samosas and khati rolls. They make a tofu version if you prefer that over paneer. Their samosa chaat is legit as is their bhel puri and dahi puri. I also like the comfortable seating and friendly staff. For casual and chaat this is my favorite place in San Francisco.

About Deccan Spice: They have a huge menu spanning across several regions in India – North Indian, Gujarati, Mahahrashtra, South India, street food, and Indian-Chinese dishes. I also have to give them a special shout out because they specifically mention Jain and vegan offerings right on the sign outside of the restaurant. Monday to Thursday this is a dinner-only restaurant and Saturday and Sunday open for lunch and dinner. They’re also the only super late night option as they’re open until 1am everyday and until 3am on Saturday night. And their Mission location is perfect for the late night hours as after a night out dancing or whatever some nice Indian food really hits the spot!

 

{Summary}

This article is about where to find legit Indian food in San Francisco, California. There are more restaurants than the ones mentioned in the article. These were selected based on food quality, service, and ambience. Passport Pages is not affiliated with any of these restaurants and we were not asked nor compensated in any way by any of them to be included, excluded, or reviewed in this article.

I categorized the restaurants by neighborhood of SF, type (casual, fine dining, fast food etc.). You can make inferences for where to go for a date night. All of the restaurants are family-friendly. SF tends to be a casual place so even at fancy restaurants like Amber India, you can dress casually and not be out of place. But if you got dressed up at Curry Up Now or Udipi Palace, you’d definitely stick out.

Please let us know if this article helped you plan your Indian food culinary experience in SF and whether you got a chance to try any of these places!


{Quick Indian Food Tutorial}

Plain dosa + idli (white circular thingys) + top to bottom: tamarind, tomato and coconut chutneys
Thali style: Large plate with several items. Okra, daal (lentils), sambar (soup), chana masala (garbanzo beans), plain white rice and papadum in the center, yogurt, parantha (the bread), barfi (sweet orange square), sliced onion, cucumber, and carrot.
Indian spice box (dabba): cardamom, coriander seeds, red chilis, paprika, cumin seeds, turmeric
Perfect rainy day food: puri + chole (fried, thin, puffed bread with spicy garbanzo beans)
Typical North Indian cuisine: naan, non-veg dish, rice pulao, and daal makhini
Teplas, Gujarati bread
Khandvi, a Gujarati chaat dish
Mithai, Indian sweets

{About PassportPages}

I created the PassportPages travel blog, to provide nuanced, detailed travel advice, tips, and hacks for traveling all over the world — from a unique and different perspective than the other popular travel blogs. There aren’t as many travel blogs geared towards:

  • nuanced, detailed travel tips and advice
  • vegetarians/vegan travelers
  • ethnic Americans, Canadians, and others
  • women, especially petite women


{About Samta}

When I’m not traveling and/or adventuring (and even when I am), I operate my tech startup, ShaadiShop. ShaadiShop is a marketplace for Indian-friendly wedding venues in California.

During undergrad I decided to study abroad which triggered my travel passion. I lived in Adelaide, Australia for a year and after that, for the next 10 years I spent 1-2 months each year, traveling to various destinations around the globe, on my own while I managed my direct marketing company.

I think traveling solo, prepared me to become an entrepreneur – journeying into new experiences, figuring it out as I went, self-reliance, facing your fears head on, trying new things, and so much more!

Then I decided to get a Masters in Business Administration in southern California, and I met my husband. Now we travel around the globe together and often. I love backpacks, vegetarian and vegan cooking and of course planning our next trip. I’m also kinda addicted to blueberries. =p

Check in on the blog or better yet follow PassportPages to get travel info from around the world. And definitely post your questions and comments. I love hearing from our readers! Cheers!

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Samta, Founder, PassportPages

 

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