Babu Ji, the popular New York Indian restaurant on Avenue B, will open its doors next week in the Mission at Valencia and 14th. It’s replacing an Italian restaurant that changed concept twice before closing, and doors down from fellow flavor bombs Tawla, Burma Love, and Orenchi Beyond. In other words, that end of Valencia is getting some tasty traction that goes beyond “California cuisine.”
It’s the first West Coast outpost for owners Jennifer Singh and her chef/owner husband Jessi, who apparently originally met one another in the Mission. Since then, they opened the original Babu Ji in Australia, followed by New York— now they’ve come full circle.
The 74-seat Mission restaurant will channel the party-forward spirit of its NYC sibling, where a self-serve beer fridge is fully-stocked, and Bollywood movies are shown. The fridge will make an appearance here in SF, with a collection of 40 beers from local breweries, alongside small keg drafts like Mikkeller. Rajat Parr, formerly Mina Group’s wine director, has crafted a wine list to accompany the bright spices on the menu. Bartender Vincent Chirico (NYC’s Raines Law Room) is slinging some seriously spirited cocktails for liquor lovers; check out the list below.
The menu itself is divided into categories, denoting its origins: From the street, from the tandoor, or from the pots. Diners can order either a la carte, or go for the tasting menu ($62), which includes signature appetizers, Tandoor items, a thali-style curry platter served with charred naan, and dessert. Dishes like Colonel Tso’s cauliflower, an Indo-Chinese style cauliflower in a tomato chili sauce, sesame and onion seed, and chives sounds particularly addictive. Meanwhile the naan made with Point Reyes Toma and Daikon radish, and the Morro Bay oysters served with pickle butter indicate that we’re all in for an interesting experiment in melding Bay Area ingredients with traditional Indian flavors. Check out the full menu below.
According to Eater NY critic Ryan Sutton in his review of the East Coast location, “The food can sometimes boast levels of refinement, balance, and creativity that one wouldn't normally expect in a space like this.” Here’s to more of that, West Coast style.
Babu Ji will be open from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. It will be open November 21-22, 25-27, 30-December 4, 7-12. Then, starting Wednesday, December 14 it will start normal hours, from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Babu Ji Cocktail Menu
Vodka | amontillado | absinthe | blackberry | raspberry | watermelon | cucumber
Don’t Tell Auntie
Tequila | mezcal | Aperol | beetroot | lime | black lava salt
Ale | cider | ginger | thai basil kiwi shrub
Gin | Dolin Blanc | fino | rose | Benedictine | dandelion & burdock bitters
Rhum | Kümmel | cucumber | mukhwas
Gin | St. Germain | black pepper | cucumber | lime
Bourbon | Cocchi Americano | lapsang souchong | cinnamon | lemon
Masad Arvo Chai
Rye | Cocchi di Torino | masala chai | burnt orange
Ne, Ne, Ne...
Small Batch Bourbon | maple | vanilla | Xocolatl mole bitters
Navy Strength Rum | banana cognac | gin | coconut | pineapple | allspice dram