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Favorite Chaat places in the bay area??

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My Indian brother-in-law is coming to visit for his birthday in early February, and we were thinking of taking him to get some chaat. We've only tried Amber Cafe and some other Chaat place in Mountain View several years ago (sorry, can't remember the name...).

Any favorites or ideas on the best places? i've looked at some of the previous posts, and a lot of individual dishes sound good, but it's been difficult to compare the different restaurants. We've been meaning to try Vik's for years, but get sidetracked by so many other places in Berkeley when we're there...

We're based in San Mateo, but are willing to drive anywhere around the bay, if it's worth it. There will be a fairly big group of us, so at least rudimentary tables & chairs would be good. thanks in advance for any help...

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  1. Chaat Cafe, 320 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, (near Moscone Center). (415) 979 9946 (http://www.chaatcafes.com

    )

    It's a chain, however in my opinion it's one of the tastiest I've experienced in the Bay Area.

    3 Replies
    1. re: saucy_girl

      Correcting the above URL; http://www.chaatcafes.com/

      1. re: saucy_girl

        I love the papri chaat there, and everything else is pretty tasty too. I could eat papri chaat there every other day if I still worked in the area.

        1. re: Pei

          I second the papri chaat at Chaat Cafe. I had it for the first time recently and can't wait to go again. Also really liked the bhel puri.

      2. thanks for the Chaat Cafe suggestion (although the 2 urls look identical to me... perhaps it's a browser issue?)...

        since they have more than one location, i've read previous posts that say that some branches are supposed to be better than others... have you been to multiple locations, and do you know if there is a difference in the menu at different locales? thanks!

        1. Here are my rankings among the chaat places of the Bay Area

          1) Amber Cafe, Mountain View (malai methi wrap, samosa, aloo tikki)
          2) Vik's, Berkeley (chicken kathi kebab - only on weekends, samosa, aloo tikki, dosa)
          3) Real Ice Cream, Santa Clara (sev puri, ragada pattis)
          4) Chaat Cafe, San Francisco and other locations (potato stuffed naan, samosa; avoid the entrees)

          Can't remember the following as well; they were good but not amazing (GBNA)...
          Chaat Paradise, Mountain View
          Deedee's, Mountain View (good stuffed potato naan)
          Chaat place on the corner of El Camino & Wolfe, Sunnyvale
          Other chaat place in Sunnyvale (Chaat something...)
          Bombay, San Francisco

          4 Replies
          1. re: katya

            thanks for the list, Katya... very helpful... is there one where the variety of chaat items is greater or you don't always order the same thing (because multiple things you've tried have been delicious?)

            1. re: akki_dog

              I would say that among my favorite places, Vik's and Real Ice Cream (a.k.a. Olety's Chaat Corner) have the largest menus and are the most traditional. Chaat Cafe only carries about 8 chaat items. Amber Cafe has a big menu, but there are probably 8 chaat items on it, though lots of other interesting items like the malai methi wrap. Chaat Paradise, while I thought it was just okay on my only visit, had the biggest chaat menu I've ever seen.

              If you do go to Real Ice Cream, it goes without saying to leave room for their delicious ice cream. They carry some unusual flavors like rose petal, cardamom, and saffron (I think it's saffron rose pista?).

              1. re: katya

                Nice of you to add more details, also Chaat Paradise has more creature comforts and table service.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  That is true. I think Chaat Paradise is the only chaat place that has table service. In addition to the usual chaat items, they also had many items that I haven't seen listed on chaat menus (not fusion just different).

          2. Second Chaat Paradise in Mountain View. It's a bit divey, but they sure have good Chaat.
            Sort of hard to find, tucked into a corner of a strip mall.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Sebby

              Same goes for Real Ice Cream. We were within a block for five or ten minutes before we found it.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                how's the ice cream there? seems like an odd but promising combination...

                1. re: akki_dog

                  Here's my post on Real Ice Cream/Olety's
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30280...
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/326129

            2. Vik's rises clearly to the top for me. My instincts seemed to be confirmed when I took some friends from Mumbai who said it tasted wonderfully like "home". They don't have masala dosas on weekdays, though. also, it's good to go at about 5pm on weekend evenings - not crowded, and still a bountiful kitchen.

              1. If I had to pick just one, it would be Chat Patta Corner in Fremont. Here's my post.
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/46860

                I prefer it over Chaat Cafe, Vik's, Amber Cafe, Olety's Chaat Corner (Real Ice Cream), Deedee's, Chaat Paradise, Krishna, and Lovely Sweets and Snacks, which all have their various strengths.

                If you have time, you could head to Fremont and hit up Chat Patta, and try the two locations of Chaat Cafe plus Lovely Sweets and Snacks for a chaat tour and select the best items from each. I've not tried many locations of Chaat Cafe, but those who have say that the Fremont locations are the best in the chain.

                1. Thanks all, for the many comments & suggestions... This makes me want to do a serious taste testing of all the places, but unfortunately that will probably take a while since we don't make it to all those locations on a regular basis.

                  Due to the constraints of the visit, we'll have to go on a weekend, so i think Vik's might be too busy to make it enjoyable with 10 people. right now i'm leaning towards Chat Patta and possibly another location... Melanie's posts & pictures on Chat Patta made me salivate. Amber's menu seemed a little too fusion-y for our Indian guests. but i'm also considering Real Ice Cream (the ice cream seems an added bonus) or Chaat Cafe (since the papri chaat seems universally loved.)

                  anyways, Melanie's post is the only one i've seen on Chat Patta, and we should be able to try a lot of different items, so i'll try to post after we go... Thanks again for all the help!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: akki_dog

                    I have posted on each of the places mentioned in my post above, mostly with photos I think. If you pull them up, you can compare and constrast to see what suits you best.

                    P.S. Dana Bazar (sic), the sister spot to Chat Patta Corner is more well known. But it has no seating. And, Chat Patta gets spelled many different ways too, so hard to find by searching here or on the web.

                    1. re: akki_dog

                      I had a chance to detour to Chat Patta Corner in Fremont this afternoon after nearly a year-long absence. We split an order of pani puri, now 6/$4. They're still as special as ever.