Where to Eat Indian Food in SF Right Now
According to a local Indian chef.
When most of us living in the US think about Diwali—the festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists around the world—it usually doesn’t include a lot of restaurants. It’s a time when our moms and aunties put in work making all kinds of mostly vegetarian savory snacks and sweets. Things like samosas, pani puri, dhokla, gulab jamun, etc. That being said, as a former Indian restaurant owner I have always secretly wished non-Hindus would take up Diwali the way (as obnoxious as some patrons are) Mexican or Irish places get inundated with business on Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day. We are so lucky in SF to have so many spots to choose, from simple takeout meals to elaborate coursed menus with Diwali-inspired cocktails. So, if you are Hindu and are looking for a place to get all the traditional Diwali treats or you just want to celebrate along with us and patronize a great Indian restaurant, this list is for you.
Chef Heena Patel, Besharam, has a snack box that ships nationwide. The Besharam Holiday Box includes a mix of savory and sweet traditional Diwali snacks: Methi Namkeen, Chakris (my favorite!), Bhujia Peanuts, Kaju Katli, Cardamom Sugar Cookies, and Coconut Cran Boondi. In addition, available for pick-up or delivery in SF, they are offering a Diwali Feast meal kit complete with Saag Paneer, Rotlis, Tadka palak dal, Dahi wada, Basmati rice with peas, Raita, Mango chutney, and Gulab jamuns.
How to order: Takeout, delivery, and shipping all available via Tock
The variety of savory snacks and chaat at Spice of America are so plentiful you can create quite an impressive array for your Diwali spread. For vegetarians the ‘Kale Pakoda Bhel’ is a mix of crunchy & earthy topped with sweet & spicy chutneys. SoA has a number of Indo-Chinese influenced dishes including ‘Chili Chicken Pakoda,’ ‘Paneer Tikka,’ and ‘Schezwan Tango Shrimps.’ Another popular menu item you don’t see often is a selection of grilled sandwiches like the ‘Chicken Tikka’ or “Crushed Samosa,’ similar to the ones sold on the roadside in India. For entrees there are so many choices, but I recommend ‘Baingan Bharta,’ ‘Egg Curry Tikka Masala,’ or the ‘Aleppy Prawn Curry’.
How to order: Takeout click here or delivery via DoorDash
Modern Indian restaurant, August 1 Five has a three-course Diwali Dhamaka Menu with two cocktails included. The menu available for outdoor dining and takeout, includes potato & fig kofta, paneer kebab, spinach and paneer lasagna, and a Diwali cocktail. For dessert, the selection is honey fig and cardamom with toasted walnut ice cream—an awesome collab with Smitten. The ice cream is also available in pints at Smitten’s Mission and San Jose locations and for nationwide shipping.
How to order: Make your reservation for outdoor dining on Open Table or order takeout or delivery via ChowNow
South Indian staple on both sides of the Bay, DOSA has a host of many of their signature dishes available for takeout and delivery. Start with their Coconut Mung Salad and Idli Fries with Tomato or Coconut Chutney. Follow it up with a traditional Masala Dosa or mix it up with a Butter Chicken Dosa. For a curry house classic combo you can order a number of different curries with a side of rice or naan.
How to order: Takeout or delivery via Caviar, Doordash, Grubhub, or UberEats
As the days get cooler, the Tomato Dhaniya Shorba starter would be the perfect spicy herbaceous antidote. Along with crispy Palak Chaat and the Hara Bhara Kebab, a fried patty made from spinach, cheese, and potato. For entrees, I recommend trying the Bhindi do Piazza, okra stir fried with onions and tomatoes or the Indian Eggplant in Salan Sauce, baby eggplants cooked in a spicy peanut sauce.
How to order: Delivery via DoorDash, Caviar, Postmates, and Uber Eats or give them a call at 415-742-4010
At inventive ROOH you can order up quite the Diwali feast, whether you are sticking to a traditional vegetarian meal or adding some meat and seafood to the mix as well. Highlights for their outdoor dining menu include a chutney sampler with goat cheese kulcha, the popular jackfruit taco, and tandoori octopus with compressed apple. Dessert menu features the vanilla rose flan, as well a variety of house-churned ice creams.
How to order: Outdoor dining reservations via Open Table and takeout and delivery via DoorDash, Caviar, or GrubHub
In addition to this casual eatery’s mashup of Indian flavors, Curry Up Now is also offering a ‘Choti Diwali’ catering menu that feeds up to 20 people if you are planning a distanced gathering to celebrate the holiday. The festive menu includes samosas, curries, daal, naan, rice, and various chutneys. For smaller gatherings, their selection of snacks and chaats are available a la carte, like the famous ‘Sexy Fries.’
How to order: Click here for takeout or delivery
Available for takeout or delivery Ritu Indian Soul Food, has many options for your Diwali feast. Start your celebration with their crispy kale chaat and dahi puri, puris topped with sprouts, yogurt, and chutneys. The no-brainer choice for non-vegetarians is the ever popular Tandoori Fried Chicken with a curry leaf mustard BBQ sauce. Biryani is one their main specialities, choose from jackfruit, chicken, or lamb.
How to order: Takeout with Tock or delivery with Caviar or DoorDash
Dumplings are one of the best foods for any celebration. Chef Binita Pradhan’s momos are available with various fillings: vegetarian, turkey and lamb all served with her addictive roasted tomato cilantro sauce. Combine the Nepalese dumplings with a number of curries, dals, rotis and Bini’s Kukara grilled chicken. Or if you want to go big on the dumpling party Bini’s offers 50-piece frozen bags of momos with instructions on defrosting and steaming to perfection.
How to order: Click here for takeout or delivery
Local cookbook author, blogger, and former season 6 "Master Chef" contestant Hetal Vasavada has been baking up a sweet and spicy storm since her online retail shop opened this year. Her now famous ‘Gulab Jamun Bundt Cakes’ sold out in a matter of hours earlier this month. But you'll have your chance to nab one again at her ‘Diwali Online Pop Up Shop’ this Saturday 11/14 starting at 9am.
How to order: Online Shop
Viks Chaat in Berkeley has been an institution for all of your favorite Indian snacks both savory and sweet. My favorites in the savory department are their Dahi Bateta Puri, Samosa Chaat, and Aloo Tiki, all served with generous amounts of chutneys. Their South Indian dosas and uttapams are all fantastic, as well as the lamb baida roti (weekends only). For sweets there’s the classic gulab jamun, but Viks also has a beautiful case packed with all the colorful mithai Diwali time is known for. Weather permitting Viks will be hosting a distanced Diwali family event with sidewalk chalk rangoli drawing for kids, this Saturday 11/14 starting at 10am, in their massive parking lot.
How to order: Takeout or delivery with Caviar
For an all out blow out of Diwali snacks and chaat, and with three locations in the South Bay Chaat Bhavan has a vast menu that spans so many snacks, thalis, kebabs, breads, and desserts you will be most definitely spoiled for choice. The stand out snack menu includes Dabeli, Vada Pav, Pani Poori, Sabudana Vada, and Mixed Vegetable Pakoras. A house thali comes with Kheer for dessert and a choice of beverage. The other stars of the menu are all the vegetable dishes and breads, my favorites are Chili Paneer and Jaipur Masala Bhindi for veg and Methi or Aloo Paratha in the breads department. In addition to being vegetarian, almost all menu items have a Jain option as well.
How to order: Takeout or delivery