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Dosa (21st and Valencia)

  • j

This started on another post about veg restaurants on Valencia and it was mentioned that there is a mighty long wait for tables at Dosa. I would never go out of my way for south indian food, but is this place worth the wait?

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  1. short answer: no.

    I went there and found it ok, not overwhelming. I did not like the cashew in my dosa. One feeling I had was that the food is a pretext to push booze (no south indian place would serve alcohol, according to my south indian friends), similar in that way to osha thai a couple blocks away. If you're young, hip and looking for a party atmosphere, then it's for you. I'm bitter about the place as I've had a nasty experience with management which was out of its depth. They charged me a $40 tip on a $33 bill, confusing total and tip lines, and gave me some attitude. I'm never going back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cedichou

      You captured my reaction perfectly... a "scene" mostly about booze and "being seen"[apparently the formula for success]. The dosas are a nice novelty for the neighborhood, but the fillings are a disapointment. My bill,too, was illegible and incorrect [quickly corrected in my case]- do we detect a pattern here? Some [not all] of the staff seem to have an ashram/cult aura giving the "drink till you stink" emphasis a bizarre twist- but then I guess alcohol is "organic".

      1. re: Jimbo

        It's only wine and soju cocktails so It's hard to imagine such an amphass on booze. But I guess even enough Soju will get you hammered.

    2. I tried to eat there and was told to come back at 10pm with a party of four. We had a drink at a nearby bar, came back at 10:05, and were told the kitchen was closed.

      1. I rather liked Dosa. It was over-priced but we knew that before going into it. We went for brunch --less crowd, no wait and no pushing of drinks. We had the chai which was powerful and heavy on cardamom. The waitstaff is friendly and helpful, a rare combo in the usual hip joints. The interior was tastefully designed in warm terra cotta colors. The dosa itself was really rich and would be better shared and accompanied by a curry or salad. The sambar ( a soupy lentil and vegetable side) comes with the dosa. It would have tasted delicious over rice as it had a complex peppery flavor.Also it seemed like the green vegetable in the sambar gave it a very healthy california touch (which I mean in a good way). The masala dosa was filled with samosa-like potatoes. I could detect tumeric, ghee, mustard seed etc..and the cashew added to the complexity of flavors. The crepe-y dosa was more of a vehicle for the delicious filling. The 2 sauces were slightly busy and overwhelmed the already flavorful dosa. I felt way too stuffed at the end of my meal but that is a plus because I hate paying a lot for tiny portions.

        1. dosa is okay if you are desparate for south indian food in the mission, otherwise, i would suggest going elsewhere like udipi palace in berkeley.

          1. Yeah, Dosa has some good food, but not great, definitely not worth a long wait. If you want to try it without a wait, do what we did and arrive for an early dinner. I think we were there within 30 minutes of it opening for dinner.

            1. What a bunch of sourpusses! (Except finchycocoa.) Dosa is great, the food is comparable to the best south Indian in Berkeley and Santa Clara, and the addition of wine to the menu can only be a plus. After all, you don't need to order it. Ditto the dosa with Cheddar cheese. Lots of Indian families go there for weekend lunch, it's fantastic for vegetarians and vegans, and the wine list is excellent. I had a sekt on one occasion and a Trimbach pinot gris on another.

              2 Replies
              1. re: poot

                huh? I've read these 'sourpuss' posts three times now and see no reference to cheddar cheese in the dosa (did I somehow miss it?), but I do see several reports of poor service and mediocre food.

                1. re: susancinsf

                  They have a dosa with egg and cheese, tried it, not expecting much, but it just worked. Been meaning to go back to have another, but don't relish the wait . . .

              2. I liked Dosa but I went before it got out of hand popular. If you want to try go early in the evening, you will have better service and it's not so crowded.

                1. It's very good for a late brunch. We ate there a couple weeks ago at about 2:00 and were seated right away. The dosas were quite good and the service was wonderful. They have a genuinely nice hostess on the weekend who also serves as a waitress. Too expensive, but I was expecting that. Of course, it wasn't the nirvana that Vik's Chaat Corner was on Superbowl Sunday, with an enormous amount of food for $29.

                  1. go before 6:30. i went last week on wed night and had no problem getting a table for 4. my party sat down and in 15 mins the place was packed.
                    this was my second visit to Dosa and i love this place. definitely order their lamb curry. i think it is the best curry in the bay area. the flavor has many layers and i love how the heat lingers on. we also had their cheesecake for dessert and we all thought that was one of the best cheesecake!

                    1. This place is totally not worth the wait. I went there last week and was not impressed by either the service or food. My boyfriend and I had the tasting menu (between the two of us we tried 8 different items) and had difficulty finishing any of them. The price was outrageous for the quality of the food. For a $90 dinner, I'd rather go to many other places in the mission (e.g., Range). The restaurant does have a nice interior, but so do many other places in SF. I will never go there again.

                      1. Sorry, but I have to disagree with the majority of the posts here.

                        We have a 3-year old with us now, so we go early (6:30-ish), and we generally hardly ever had to endure long waits. (But even if you did, why does that reflect badly on the restaurant? Long waits are a side effect of popularity, no?)

                        As regards to the quality of the dosas themselves, I would rate them better than most of the Sunnyvale-Mountain View area South indian places. Especially the Sambar.

                        I must say that I have never had a problem with quality of their service, nor have I ever had a problem with bill issues some people have mentioned.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bong

                          I don't think that whether a place is popular really correllates with the food. Lots of eh places are popular: look at how long the wait is at the Cheesecake Factory! OTOH, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants in that same general neighborhood as Dosa, Lotus Garden, *never* has a wait and isn't nearly as popular as I think it deserves to be.

                          The question is not whether the wait reflects badly on the restaurant. The question is whether the food, service and atmosphere are worth the wait.

                          1. re: susancinsf

                            I would not wait an hour for anywhere no matter how good. But if the OP wants to try Dosa which is worth while many of us have said go early or as mentioned go for brunch than that might be the ticket.

                        2. I was lucky enough to not have to wait long at Dosa when I went (went early-ish). The masala dosa was good, but our service was terrible. My friend asked the waitress which items didn't have nuts since she has a nut allergy and the waitress pretty much said that there was only one thing she could get (understandable maybe, but I think many 'good' restaurants will offer to make something w/o nuts if it is possible). So, needless to say, my friend's food did end up having nuts in it, she had an allergic rxn (thankfully not too bad), and once our waitress found out what had happened, she did not offer and apology or (what I thought would've been appropriate) a new dish or at least a refund for the dish that my friend couldn't eat. Quite disappointing service and not worth the money in my opinion.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chemchef

                            It seems like with so many people with nut allergies, a restaurant would bring its waitstaff up to speed on *exactly* what to suggest to such a customer. Why don't they do it?

                          2. I suggest sitting at the bar and ordering a masala dosa (which I find to be pretty good) and the extraorindary fire soup.No waiting and not expensive.

                            1. It's not really worth the wait, especially if you're not a big south indian fan. I recently ate there and the food was good but nothing that really impressed me. The paneer dosa had hardly any paneer and featured carrots and peas, something which the menu neglected to mention. The other masal dosa we tried was ok but the eggplant chutney was so thinly spread and subtle that we couldn't tell that it was there. I guess I was expecting more from a place that charges as much as it does. As several people have already said, Udupi palace in berkeley is much better and cheaper. Putting aside the issue of how authentic alcohol in a south indian place is, 6 dollars for an Anchor Steam is just wrong. Not a bad place but there are much better and cheaper places to eat in the mission.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: AKmac

                                To be fair, the paneer dosa description on their menu reads, "Dosa filled with spiced, grilled farmer’s cheese and vegetables."

                                1. re: AKmac

                                  I was just thinking about the expensive beer at Dosa when I read AKmac's post. I completely agree...the food was ok, but in no way worth a long wait and definitely not worth the money. And then there's the 6 dollar beers (8 or 9 for a domestic hefeweizen if I remember correctly!) It's at that point where you feel like the restaurant is taking you for a fool. I'm in no hurry to go back.