clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Saag from Besharam Besharam

13 Fantastically Flavorful Indian Restaurants in San Francisco

From curries, tandoori, and naan to regional revelations and jewel-toned cocktails

View as Map

After New York City, the Bay Area boasts the second largest population of Indian Americans in the United States — not that these numbers get close to covering everyone in the South Asian diaspora throughout the Bay Area. The Indian food in this region is just one piece of the mosaic, though. Sana Javeri Kadri grew up in Mumbai and operates a spice company out of Oakland called Diaspora Co, bringing in millions of dollars in her quest to decolonize what it means to cook with South Asian spices such as turmeric and black pepper. There’s also a wide range of Indian restaurants in the South Bay, from Palo Alto to Santa Clara. For San Franciscans, or those making a trip to the home city of Indian pizza, here are 13 intensely flavorful Indian restaurants to try.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Curry Leaf

Copy Link

Curry Leaf is the neighborhood favorite of Russian Hill. It’s an Indian and Pakistani restaurant firing a big tandoori grill and serving halal meats. That means beef, lamb, and chicken kebabs, as well as lamb chops and chicken legs. But the chef’s favorite is the bengan bharta, or mashed eggplant, which is simmered down in a garlicky tomato sauce.

Halal meat at Curry Leaf Curry Leaf

Viva Goa Indian Cuisine

Copy Link

Viva Goa is the Marina's go-to Indian takeout spot, serving the neighborhood all the curries, tandoori, and naan it could desire. The restaurant specializes in Goan cuisine, which features a lot of seafood, coconut, and kokum, and is heavily influenced by Portugal, which ruled the area for 450 years. The region's most popular dish is vindaloo (spicy red curry), and that's the order, alongside prawn curry.

Pakwan Indian Restaurant

Copy Link

Pakwan is usually an excellent no-frills destination for anyone seeking a night out in the Tenderloin, and these days it’s just as satisfying delivered to the comfort of your couch. The generous portions leave ample room for leftover biryani lunches.

Keeva Indian Restaurant

Copy Link

Husband-and-wife team Ajeet and Rita Mehta opened this neighborhood gem on Clement Street and offer American favorites like butter chicken and saag paneer — though insiders love the goat dishes, stir-fried okra, and bang bang egg curry, with a crispy boiled-then-fried egg sunk into a tomato and onion sauce.

Stir-fried okra from Keeva Keeva Indian Kitchen

Rooh serves modern Indian cuisine in a polished setting, an environment one might expect from India’s Good Times Restaurants hospitality group. This location in SoMa was the company's first outpost in the U.S., and they have a second location in Palo Alto as well, keeping the inventive cocktails and rich curries coming for the tech elite. Prepare for dazzling dishes, from buttery and golden saffron brioche to ultra glossy short ribs enriched with bone marrow.

Spice of America

Copy Link

This quiet spot on Market was dubbed the “most interesting Indian restaurant in San Francisco” and serves a broad menu of Indian fare with a few Nepali specialities mixed in. Explore non-traditional entrees including grilled shrimp in Indo-Chinese Schezwan sauce and Northwest salmon cooked in a coconut and green mango curry.

Dum biryani with butte Spice of America

Curry Up Now

Copy Link

Popular food truck Curry Up Now set up shop on Valencia, serving Instagram-friendly updates on standbys, such as tikka masala burritos; "sexy fries" made from sweet potato and topped with tikka masala; and "naughty naan" flatbread topped with cheese, caramelized onions, shaved jalapeños, and tikka masala.

Golden Gate Indian Cuisine & Pizza

Copy Link

Traveling to the end of the city to order an extra large Tikka Masala chicken pizza, for the high price of $36.50, is an experience well worth the expense. The Bay Area claims to be the source of the Indian pizza, and in an age of fusion (however that word lands for you) it’s pleasant to find a dish that rings of novelty while also tasting, you know, good. Bonus? Feel free to pick up a biryani, salad, or even pasta while you’re at this Judah Avenue staple.

The Golden Gate Deluxe Pizza from Golden Gate Indian Cuisine & Pizza.

Udupi Palace

Copy Link

This South Indian vegetarian institution in the Mission hits all the right spots. There are giant masala dosas, spicy curries, and sweet chutneys a plenty, all sans meat. The best part: They’ll fill you up without breaking the bank.

Besharam

Copy Link

Heena Patel, a graduate of San Francisco’s food incubator La Cocina, channels flavors from her native Gujarat at this cheeky restaurant in the Dogpatch’s Minnesota Street Project gallery space. Her regional, vegetarian, and deeply personal dishes won her the Eater Award for Restaurant of the Year in 2019. Since reopening in summer 2021, Patel has dropped meat from the menu, which takes diners through four cities in western Indian.

A Desi Cafe

Copy Link

Sort of out of nowhere (don’t all places in the Sunset District emerge sort of out of nowhere?) a bright, enormous sign with a font straight out of P.T. Barnum’s circus hangs over the sidewalk. Inside is the cilantro-centric, most flavorful aloo chaat on the west side of San Francisco. Smacking a takeout boxes’ worth of the spicy potatoes and vegetables, slathered in a slurry of sauces, is well worth the $6.50. Curries, dals, and biryanis are all on the menu here, too, with nothing more expensive than $16.

What started as popular food truck DUM (whose chicken biryani is the stuff of legend) later landed a permanent location on 24th Street and established a new name and identity as Ritu (Hindi for seasons). Chef Rupam Bhagat channels his upbringing in Mumbai, and biryani remains a highlight, but don’t miss California twists like kale chaat (with yogurt, tamarind, and “Mumbai trail mix”), great kebabs, or a family-style four-course menu for $55 per person. 

Kristen Loken

Tilak Gurung managed to reverse the usual trajectory for Bay Area chefs. After cooking for big tech cafeterias like Apple and Dropbox (where he says he served Justin Timberlake and the prime minister of Singapore, in that order), he opened his own restaurant at the top of Mission. He’s serving satisfying curries and tandoori to Bernal Heights, but also dahi puri chaat, those crispy street snacks, fully loaded with yogurt, tamarind, mint, and sprouts.

Chaat from Tilak Tilak

Curry Leaf

Halal meat at Curry Leaf Curry Leaf

Curry Leaf is the neighborhood favorite of Russian Hill. It’s an Indian and Pakistani restaurant firing a big tandoori grill and serving halal meats. That means beef, lamb, and chicken kebabs, as well as lamb chops and chicken legs. But the chef’s favorite is the bengan bharta, or mashed eggplant, which is simmered down in a garlicky tomato sauce.

Halal meat at Curry Leaf Curry Leaf

Viva Goa Indian Cuisine

Viva Goa is the Marina's go-to Indian takeout spot, serving the neighborhood all the curries, tandoori, and naan it could desire. The restaurant specializes in Goan cuisine, which features a lot of seafood, coconut, and kokum, and is heavily influenced by Portugal, which ruled the area for 450 years. The region's most popular dish is vindaloo (spicy red curry), and that's the order, alongside prawn curry.

Pakwan Indian Restaurant

Pakwan is usually an excellent no-frills destination for anyone seeking a night out in the Tenderloin, and these days it’s just as satisfying delivered to the comfort of your couch. The generous portions leave ample room for leftover biryani lunches.

Keeva Indian Restaurant

Stir-fried okra from Keeva Keeva Indian Kitchen

Husband-and-wife team Ajeet and Rita Mehta opened this neighborhood gem on Clement Street and offer American favorites like butter chicken and saag paneer — though insiders love the goat dishes, stir-fried okra, and bang bang egg curry, with a crispy boiled-then-fried egg sunk into a tomato and onion sauce.

Stir-fried okra from Keeva Keeva Indian Kitchen

ROOH

Rooh serves modern Indian cuisine in a polished setting, an environment one might expect from India’s Good Times Restaurants hospitality group. This location in SoMa was the company's first outpost in the U.S., and they have a second location in Palo Alto as well, keeping the inventive cocktails and rich curries coming for the tech elite. Prepare for dazzling dishes, from buttery and golden saffron brioche to ultra glossy short ribs enriched with bone marrow.

Spice of America

Dum biryani with butte Spice of America

This quiet spot on Market was dubbed the “most interesting Indian restaurant in San Francisco” and serves a broad menu of Indian fare with a few Nepali specialities mixed in. Explore non-traditional entrees including grilled shrimp in Indo-Chinese Schezwan sauce and Northwest salmon cooked in a coconut and green mango curry.

Dum biryani with butte Spice of America

Curry Up Now

Popular food truck Curry Up Now set up shop on Valencia, serving Instagram-friendly updates on standbys, such as tikka masala burritos; "sexy fries" made from sweet potato and topped with tikka masala; and "naughty naan" flatbread topped with cheese, caramelized onions, shaved jalapeños, and tikka masala.

Golden Gate Indian Cuisine & Pizza

The Golden Gate Deluxe Pizza from Golden Gate Indian Cuisine & Pizza.

Traveling to the end of the city to order an extra large Tikka Masala chicken pizza, for the high price of $36.50, is an experience well worth the expense. The Bay Area claims to be the source of the Indian pizza, and in an age of fusion (however that word lands for you) it’s pleasant to find a dish that rings of novelty while also tasting, you know, good. Bonus? Feel free to pick up a biryani, salad, or even pasta while you’re at this Judah Avenue staple.

The Golden Gate Deluxe Pizza from Golden Gate Indian Cuisine & Pizza.

Udupi Palace

This South Indian vegetarian institution in the Mission hits all the right spots. There are giant masala dosas, spicy curries, and sweet chutneys a plenty, all sans meat. The best part: They’ll fill you up without breaking the bank.

Besharam

Heena Patel, a graduate of San Francisco’s food incubator La Cocina, channels flavors from her native Gujarat at this cheeky restaurant in the Dogpatch’s Minnesota Street Project gallery space. Her regional, vegetarian, and deeply personal dishes won her the Eater Award for Restaurant of the Year in 2019. Since reopening in summer 2021, Patel has dropped meat from the menu, which takes diners through four cities in western Indian.

A Desi Cafe

Sort of out of nowhere (don’t all places in the Sunset District emerge sort of out of nowhere?) a bright, enormous sign with a font straight out of P.T. Barnum’s circus hangs over the sidewalk. Inside is the cilantro-centric, most flavorful aloo chaat on the west side of San Francisco. Smacking a takeout boxes’ worth of the spicy potatoes and vegetables, slathered in a slurry of sauces, is well worth the $6.50. Curries, dals, and biryanis are all on the menu here, too, with nothing more expensive than $16.

Ritu

Kristen Loken

What started as popular food truck DUM (whose chicken biryani is the stuff of legend) later landed a permanent location on 24th Street and established a new name and identity as Ritu (Hindi for seasons). Chef Rupam Bhagat channels his upbringing in Mumbai, and biryani remains a highlight, but don’t miss California twists like kale chaat (with yogurt, tamarind, and “Mumbai trail mix”), great kebabs, or a family-style four-course menu for $55 per person. 

Kristen Loken

Tilak

Chaat from Tilak Tilak

Tilak Gurung managed to reverse the usual trajectory for Bay Area chefs. After cooking for big tech cafeterias like Apple and Dropbox (where he says he served Justin Timberlake and the prime minister of Singapore, in that order), he opened his own restaurant at the top of Mission. He’s serving satisfying curries and tandoori to Bernal Heights, but also dahi puri chaat, those crispy street snacks, fully loaded with yogurt, tamarind, mint, and sprouts.

Chaat from Tilak Tilak

Related Maps