SF’s DOSA Restaurant Thinks Local

Emily Mitra, Co-owner of Dosa Restaurant. Photo by Melissa Vogt

DOSA is elegant, textured, and flavorful, and I’m not just talking about the seasonal menu. The same goes for the décor of this restaurant as well. Husband and wife duo, Anjan and Emily Mitra, designed their second DOSA location (at Fillmore and Post in San Francisco), with the architecture and culture of Southern India in mind.  Emily says that “DOSA’s ambiance . . . reflects the palette of colors as well as the beauty and complexity of DOSA’s South Indian menu.” The restaurant is simple but extravagant, and incredibly inviting. Similar to that of their first restaurant located on Valenica Street, this marvelous second edition boasts a more elaborate menu in a more eco-friendly place.

The philosophy of DOSA on Fillmore’s menu is to truly represent the flavors and textures of the traditional style of home-cooking from various regions of Southern India. “We serve authentic South Indian cuisine, the kind that one can find in people’s homes in Southern India, and we serve it with a modern, California sensibility through the use of sustainable and organic ingredients and by reflecting the seasons and agriculture surrounding us as much as possible,” Emily states proudly.

It was Anjan’s passion for traditional Southern Indian cuisine combined with Emily’s love for local and sustainable produce that created DOSA. Their shared “love of the cuisine prepared authentically, first and foremost, and desire to represent it in a manner that reflects modern, urban people and their interests and tastes,” is what keeps both restaurants running today.

Summer Vegetable Dosa. Photo by Melissa Vogt

DOSA exhibits quality, quantity, and an immense amount of flavor in all of their meals, which are prepared with seasonal and local produce from various suppliers in the Bay Area. “We purchase from many vendors but all of our ingredients come from within 100 miles with the exception of Indian spices that we must bring from India since they are not sourced in the United States,” says Emily. The menu features a wide variety of vegetarian meals as well as an array organic meat and sustainable fish dishes. One such vegetarian option, the summer vegetable dosa, a savory rice and lentil crepe filled with collard greens, a rainbow of bell peppers, ground lentils, and chiles, is a perfectly flavored and balanced dish.

Watermelon and Paneer Salad. Photo by Melissa Vogt

The Watermelon and Paneer Salad includes organic mache lettuce, sprouted mung lentils, cucumber, chiles, and fresh coconut, is a wonderful celebration of textures. The soft and sweet watermelon contrasts well with the lightly-crisped and salted paneer; the sprouted mung lentils bring an element of meatiness to the dish, with their rich and earthy flavor.

Prawn Masala. Photo by Melissa Vogt

One of the main entrees, the prawn masala, contains an impressive amount of spices, and is “light and clean and uses little oil or dairy,” Emily states, making this a delicious and healthy option. This curry is rich and creamy with a coconut milk base. The large prawns are combined with red chiles, ginger, and red onions for an ever-so-slightly spicy meal that warms the soul. When eating this savory dish, it is easy to see that the menu is based on a traditional style of home-cooking, because the flavors taste as crafted as an ancient recipe passed down from generation to generation. The menu even encourages diners to “feel free to use your fingers,” which is the traditional way to eat Indian cuisine.

The sense of community is felt in the restaurant setting and in the comfort-food style dishes on the menu, and it must be because Emily and Anjan strive to think locally as much as possible. “By thinking locally in every decision we make, we remain an integral part of the community we live in and are serving. We are more connected to everything, but most importantly to our customers,” the proud restaurant owners proclaim.

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