It’s been nearly a decade and a half since Curry Up Now, once at the forefront of the Bay Area food truck scene, first won over diners with items like chicken tikka masala burritos and deconstructed samosas. Of course, these days the fast-casual chain includes nearly two dozen locations scattered across eight states, though longtime fans will remember that the restaurant’s roots stretch back to the Mission District, where Curry Up Now planted its first permanent location in San Francisco on Valencia back in 2013.
Now, the company is back in the Bay Area to debut something new, launching an Indian sports bar adjacent to an existing Curry Up Now restaurant in the East Bay. Mortar & Pestle Sports Lounge rolled out earlier this spring at 6000 Bollinger Canyon Road, next door to the Curry Up Now restaurant at City Center Bishop Ranch, the massive multiuse development in San Ramon. The bar initially opened in 2021, but the sports bar angle and food and beverage menus are now entirely new.
Curry Up Now founder and CEO Akash Kapoor says the aim is to create a space “where the community could gather to celebrate Indian street food and sports culture” — perhaps inspired by the runaway success of Pijja Palace, a Los Angeles Indian sports bar that opened in 2022 and has since landed on must-try lists from Eater LA and the Los Angeles Times, on top of being long-listed for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award.
The lounge offers a totally separate food and drink menu from what’s available at Curry Up Now’s many other locations. Here, the focus is on bar snacks, as in handheld items designed to be eaten with a drink or two while you hang out and watch match of cricket or football — the American kind or otherwise — on one of the numerous TVs. Colorful art adorns the space, which is bounded by comfortable banquettes. Sports fans can also pull up a stool to the marble-topped bar and look forward to event programming like trivia, Hindi and English karaoke, and carrom game nights.
The company’s new corporate executive chef pulled inspiration from Indian food carts for the Mortar & Pestle Sports Lounge menu, per a release. There are crispy fried shrimp Koliwada and spicy, tangy masala papad. The menu also offers spicy fried corn, puffed lotus seeds, and a riff on patatas bravas. There’s depth on the beverage list, too. A list of cocktails pulls in fruity and bright flavors from ingredients including mango, passion fruit, pineapple, and sumac. There’s also a selection of zero-proof options, plus an international list of whiskey with more than 20 sourced from India.
Mortar & Pestle Sports Lounge (6000 Bollinger Canyon Road in San Ramon) opens at 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and closes at 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and at 9 p.m. Sunday and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday the bar is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.