Curry Up Now Opens New Location in Mission District
Casual or upscale, cheap or expensive, any restaurant has to conform to the three rules of real estate to be successful. Location, location, location is key to developing the clientele: those who will call it their favorite place and who will provide stability even in the most fast-paced touristy neighborhood. Mission District in San Francisco is not a tourist destination, at least not yet, and therefore its businesses rely heavily on the predominantly local and predominantly young crowd that values healthy and tasty food at an affordable price and an unpretentious and uplifting ambiance.
That’s exactly what Curry Up Now provides. New, clean, and well-lit, it’s a welcoming place with reclaimed wood and steel design elements and a pink and orange color scheme. Its interior is clearly visible from the street due to the glass front wall. Inside, there is a long communal table under a wide blackboard advertising the menu in colored chalk and smaller tables with comfy chairs for two and four. A brick oven is constantly fired in the back of the open kitchen.
A fast-moving line brings diners to the front counter where they place their orders and self-pour their drinks into glass jars adorned with the restaurant logo. House-made lassi, especially mint mango and rose mango, and ginger mint lemonade are truly remarkable, making a great accompaniment to the Indian street food with a contemporary twist offered by the establishment.
A pair of plump, traditional samosas with tamarind and cilantro chutneys is at the top of the Snacks list that opens the menu, and rightfully so. Two golden-brown dough shells are filled with a savory mixture of garbanzo beans, potatoes, peas, and onions and fried to crispy perfection.
The Naughty Naan is baked in an open-fire oven and comes topped with a choice of meat or tofu, tikka masala sauce, melted cheese, baby greens, onions, and shaved jalapeno. Chewy, spicy, and full of freshly baked flavor, it can be shared as an appetizer or constitute a small meal.
There are several varieties of chaat street food on the menu, including vada pav, served as a fancy slider in an uncharacteristic-to-Indian-cuisine split bun. Fried onion and bell pepper garnish adds sweetness to the mild lentil patty redolent of herbs and spices.
Another uncharacteristic but desirable menu item is called Sexy Fries. Made of bright orange sweet potato and dressed with cheese and raw onion shavings, these criss-cross cut fries can be topped with meat, tofu, or vegan items and are very good with braised lamb.
Not really from India but delicious nonetheless, Curry Up Now burritos are wrapped in foil and available with a wide variety of fillings to be mixed with rice, garbanzo beans, and onions. The Aloo Gobi burrito is a wonderful vegetarian choice, with potato and cauliflower providing the texture and bright curry sauce spicing it up.
A dessert menu also boasts traditional and non-traditional choices, one of the latter being fried cheesecake bites served on a bed of slivered almonds. It’s a fascinating creation—sweet yet light—which is always a sign of a dessert worth trying.
Established in 2009, Curry Up Now has additional locations in Palo Alto and San Mateo, four food trucks operating under the same name, and South Indian restaurant and truck, The Dosa Republic, in San Mateo, California.
Curry Up Now is located in at 659 Valencia Street, San Francisco. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. More information is available at the website.