After a mid-morning hike through the streets of the Mission in San Francisco, gawking at colorful murals, J and I happened upon Dosa just as our tummys began to growl. The crowd at the bar, the spicy smells emerging out the door, and the sight of heaping plates of papad alighting on each table as a pre-meal snack convinced us to abandon our burrito plans and step inside for lunch. Besides, great Mexican food can be found around any corner here in LA, while South Indian food takes a bit more looking.
Dosas, the namesake food of this restaurant, are gigantic, round, thin pancakes made from rice and dal (lentil) flour. They can be filled with any number of goodies--I ordered a chatni masala dosa, bursting with spiced potatos, onions, cashew nuts and a spicy chutney, while J ordered the paneer (farmers' cheese), spiced and grilled with veggies. Both came with two chutneys for dipping (tomato and coconut) and sambar, a lentil dipping soup.
Despite the behemoth size of our dishes, we both managed to polish them off, our wimpy Midwestern countenence leading both of us to remove our glasses due to the spice-induced sweat under our eyes. I loved the contrast of the barely crispy dosa enveloping the creamy filling, and relished the joy of eating with my fingers. The tomato chutney in particular shone as a foil to the hot sambar and spiced filling.
Dosa also offers a selection of curries at dinner, but only one at the lunch hour. A well-curated wine and beer list, the soft orange walls, and the hipster waiters ensure Dosa's a step up from your corner Indian take-out joint, and the prices reflect this ($11 or so for a dosa). Though they're still reasonable, and our meal was nothing but enjoyable.
995 Valencia (at 21st Street)
San Francisco, CA 94110