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San Francisco sure does love a good food trend. And while last year was all about ramen, this year new-wave Indian is taking curry and spice to a whole new level. Street-food favorites get a sexy spin and there’s not a chicken tikka masala in sight. Here’s where to make your reservations.

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august 1 five san francisco indian food
James Bueti/Flickr

AUGUST 1 FIVE

This jewel-toned restaurant is modern Indian defined. Think traditional dishes with California flair, like lobster with curry leaves and coconut milk or tamarind beet sliders. The goal here is to evade stereotypes (like the omnipresent Indian curry), and Michael Bauer approves. He gave August 1 Five a whopping three and a half stars.

524 Van Ness Ave.; 415-771-5900 or august1five.com

babu ji san francisco indian food
Katie Newburn

BABU JI

Dip into oysters with pickle butter, Thali-style curry platters and more elaborate dishes like scallop coconut curry at this cool new Indian joint by a husband-and-wife team. Guys will appreciate the “help yourself” beer fridge, while gals will be wowed by cocktails like the Don’t Tell Auntie (tequila, mezcal, beetroot, black lava salt). Word to the wise: Save room for the signature kulfi dessert—a “Popsicle” with cardamom, honey and pistachio—which you’ll have to skillfully remove from its metal cone.

280 Valencia St.; 415-525-4857 or babujisf.com

rooh san francisco indian food
Rooh/Facebook

ROOH

Deemed “progressive” Indian, the menu here focuses on rich regional flavors indigenous to India paired with local California ingredients, plus cocktails inspired by ancient Ayurvedic practices. Think papadums and crisps with curried cauliflower mousse and peanut crumble, and banana-and-jaggery tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream, honeycomb and silver leaf.

333 Brannan St.; 408-300-8467 or roohsf.com

dabba san francisco indian food
Dabba

DABBA

A former French Laundry chef and a tech entrepreneur joined forces to open this casual global-eats hot spot inspired by Avatar’s in Mill Valley (you know, of Indian burrito fame).

71 Stevenson St.; 415-236-3984 or dabba.com

rasa san francisco indian food
Rasa

RASA

Old guard meets new wave at this Michelin-starred restaurant just south of the city. It’s owner Ajay Walia’s modern interpretation of Southern Indian food. (He’s the guy who basically started the upscale Indian trend with San Carlos’s Saffron Indian Bistro back in 2002.) Don’t miss the two-foot “white elephant” butter paper dosa served with masala on the side. It’s worth the trip to Burlingame.

209 Park Rd., Burlingame; 650-340-7272 or rasaindian.com

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