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Best Indian restaurant in San Francisco?

Sorry to post a "best" question, but a friend's birthday is coming up and Indian is his favorite cuisine. He's not from the area and I have had only a few Indian meals, so I need some help.

I know there are some great places outside of SF, but we need to stay in the city.

It's a special occasion, so nothing too casual.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. I'd suggest Roti Bistro on West Portal. I have not eaten there for the past few months, but they generally deliver on the promise of great taste with fresh seasonal ingredients, and the white table cloth atmosphere.

    2 Replies
    1. re: osho

      I don't know Roti Bistro but maybe Dosa. There are some good casual even cheap Indian but a bit more upsacle is limited. Dosa would be the spot for a special occassion over most of the places I am familiar with. The focus is Southern India with California ingredients. The Prawn Coconut Masala is really delicious as I recall the Uttapams chefs selection of four or five different ones with chutney was excellent and the Paneer was very good. You will need a reservation, go earlier otherwise it gets really unbearable crowded.

      1. re: osho

        I had dinner at Roti on West Portal a few weeks ago. It was fine, and I would go back if looking for something in the neighborhood, but it certainlywasn't wonderful, and wasn't a place I'd want to go for a birthday celebration.

        first of all: as for white tablecloth atmosphere: I'd say no. YMMV, but it was very crowded and noisy (on a weeknight), and the table configurations were such that we couldn't sit down at our table without someone else moving, which is uncomfortable and a pet peeve of mine.Service was a bit off: nothing big, but waits for each course were a little long. Then the server poured my beer into a glass; the beer overflowed the glass, he apologized, brought another beer and another glass, and this time he didn't overpour, but he took away the bottle that still had beer in it! I was almost too surprised to stop him, but managed to just as he was leaving the table...

        but as for the food: it was good, though not outstanding. We had a pureed eggplant dish that was somewhat bland, hubby had very good, nicely cooked lamb chops, and I can't say I remember any of the other dishes. The garlic naan was below average in my opinion: cold, not a lot of flavor. Portions tend to be large and sharing the norn.

      2. While Roti and Dosa are both very good options for a non-casual atmosphere, I was much more impressed with my meals at Roti. They are very different, and perhaps if I were looking for Southern Indian food Dosa would really have been a hit, but everything was just fine. There were 5 of us, so we were able to sample a fair bit of the menu, but other than one appetizer (a spicy chicken dish) none of the plates got emptied and no one was longing to go back.
        Roti, on the other hand, generally has me fighting for the last bites of some of my favorites, the lamb lollipops being one of those. I find that all the tandoori meats there are very well done with different spicing for each different type of meat, and the naan is fantastic. [disclaimer - the first time I went, one of my companions knew the owner so she sent over a few dishes that I wouldn't have ordered on my own. Since then, I have gone without anyone knowing me and enjoyed it just as much]

        2 Replies
        1. re: Meredith

          Good to know about Roti, I get to the movies over there and never eat over there because of the slim pickings.

          1. re: Meredith

            Meredith, I agree with your assessment, which is why I suggested Roti in the first place, as opposed to Dosa.

          2. A friend of mine took me to Roti Burlingame for my birthday this year & I was pleasantly surprised (with the food & the fact that my friend knew an Indian place & I didn't). Sounds like it is every bit as good in SF. Can't go wrong here.

            1. This is a tough one, because I happen to think that most of our best Indian is casual / below casual. Now if we could only have something like Vij's in Vancouver here ...

              1. I've heard great things about Indian Oven in the Haight.

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                Indian Oven Restaurant
                233 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: grishnackh

                  Last time I ate at Indian Oven was about four years ago and that was my last. Maybe its changed, it was dull and expensive for American version of what you can get elsewhere for less. Fig Newton is right and my same thoughts I could list a few much better places that are much more casual and not really festive for a celebration.

                  Maybe they take the B-Boy out for a flight of bubbly or wines somewhere really nice and cheese plate, then go to one of the better Indian food places that are more casual? Just an idea.

                  Dosa has a pretty nice dining room and the food is pretty good a lot more interesting than Indian Oven. I heard they are open on Monday now, which might be less crowded.