Indian/Vegetarian option in SF or Cupertino
Hi there! I have a friend moving out to San Francisco to work for apple who is a huge foodie. He loves authentic Indian and is a vegetarian and I'd love to send him out with a gift card for a great new place to try. Any suggestions? I was thinking $100-$150 gift card because he doesn't drink.
Vegetarian Indian food is generally very inexpensive.
The best upscale vegetarian restaurant is Ubuntu. Manresa (out of your stated price range) and Plum are first-rate and very vegetarian-friendly. Greens and Millennium are a step down.
Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030
580 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102
2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123
Hi - if he hasn't lived in the area before, Cupertino is filled with great little south indian joints. Few are real destinations to a "foodie" though - they're simply very, very good eating and there are a lot of them and cheap to boot. My personal favorite is Mayuri and it's tough to spend $100 there without 6 people. That part of the area is very spread out, so you end up driving a long way for very good - but not destination food. Still, if you're interested in going that way, there's some good other ones.
In SF the usual call is Dosa. If the friend is living in SF, get them accustomed to the SF scene, and some kind of gift thing for Dosa is perfect.
However, if they're living on the peninsula, they'll just learn that going to SF is frustrating and time consuming (sunnyvale to SF is more like Norwalk to Manhattan). For fancier destination-level food, I'd currently go Amber in PA, although it's more north indian. Sakoon in MV is interesting but the recent chef change gives me pause - it might be a better choice than Amber because the menu's more ambitious. Junoon in PA is destination food but lousy service. Mantra has a great bar but the food doesn't hit the high points of the others. Shiva in MV I haven't tried. Tumeric doesn't have as nice atmosphere. Places like Baravan G-whatever have great taste but are converted Denny's.
In SF, Udupi Palace is also very good. Dosa has several branches, so look into it before you decide. Dosa on Fillmore is very fancy, white table clothes and decorated by a professional. Dosa in the Mission very casual and not done up. Neither will set you back $100 if you don't drink, but for a group of 4 that budget should be perfect.
Dosa on Fillmore
1700 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
The FIllmore Dosa is one of the handful of upscale Indian restaurants in the Bay Area, but I didn't find it very fancy by SF standards.
I don't think that the food at any Indian restaurant in SF can match the best Indian places in the South Bay, which I think are all so inexpensive that they're not a great fit for this request.