When our hangovers hit, we all have our go-to Indian spot at our fingertips for delivery.
But we’re here to tell you that there’s a new Indian joint in town called Besharam that’s modern, hip, and creative—a restaurant ready to turn your head and change the way you’ve been thinking about Indian cuisine.
Now open at Minnesota Street Project in Dogpatch, Besharam is the latest hot spot to come from Daniel Patterson’s recent enterprise into restaurant partnerships with global flavors—think Jamaican flavors at SF’s Kaya and Oakland’s new Palestinian foodie spot Dyafa—and is the brick-and-mortar manifestation of the dreams of its founder and chef, 50-year-old Heena Patel.
There’s really nothing we can say about Besharam without first filling you in on a bit of Patel’s story. An immigrant from Gujarat, India, she learned from a young age that food—freshly harvested food—is something to celebrate. But as a lifelong vegetarian (which is the tradition in India), her first professional culinary job—managing the meaty Hofbrau restaurant—was hardly a fit; nevertheless, she mastered the reuben sandwich, which she still credits for helping her earn her American citizenship. But then, like so many female food entrepreneurs from minority communities here in the Bay Area (including Dyafa chef/partner Reem Assil), Patel found support in La Cocina’s incubator program, which helped her, along with her husband, Paresh, open Rasoi back in 2016; the stand at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, and later at Off the Grid, became beloved for its cheesy garlic naan and “Bollywood biryani.”
In other words, Besharam has been a long time coming. And that it’s housed in the former prime location of Alta CA and counts celebrity toque Patterson as partner merits the #winning. Inside it’s a celebration of Indian cuisine and Bollywood culture with poppy art and a deep menu bursting with the flavors of Gujarat, but with just a hint of tropical essence and a Californian twist, of course.
At lunch, snack on tapioca fritters with dates and turmeric sauce; charred broccoli and quinoa with cilantro chutney; and hearty bowls of vegetable curry topped with a fried egg and served with toasted buns. At dinner, bring the crew for shareable plates of blue cheese naan with wasabi raita; plump edamame dumplings in a spicy lentil stew; and paratha tacos with strawberry mint chutney. There are also pleasant desserts (mango ice cream with cashew, dried apricot, and ginger brittle), and an extensive wine list.
Oh, the name Besharam is Urdu for “shameless”—and this restaurant no problem demanding your attention.
Besharam is currently open for lunch and dinner, with brunch and an evening tasting menu coming soon.
The minimalist Alta space has gotten a refresh. We love the Bollywood-meets-Wonder-Woman vibes of the mural by artist Maria Qamar.
Choose between beer, wine, or “refreshers” like this spicy turmeric lemonade. Cocktails will join the beverage offerings in the near future.
When perusing your options for appetizers, the blue cheese stuffed naan will definitely catch your eye. The tandoor-baked flatbread is perfectly pillowy, and stuffed with crumbles of melted Stilton. Dip it in a pool of peppery garlic sauce.
Fried potatos? We’re in. The maru bhajias are divine little fritters made with sliced coins of potato and cauliflower, battered up, fried, and served with a roasted tomato-pepper salsa.
Keep an eye out for the thick, coarse paratha bread, incorporated into multiple dishes in the form of wraps or as the perfect side for scooping up your Indian eats.
If you’ve never had koftas, now is the time to sample these medium-size dumplings of cashews, paneer cheese, and potato. Sop up the last of the creamy, spiced tomato sauce with paratha bread.
Chicken tikka masala? Not a chance at this spot. Instead dive into a hearty bowl of pepper chicken with huge chunks of cumin-spiced meat simmering in a spicy pepper sauce.
Looking to try something totally different? You’ll be impressed by Patel’s kachor dholki, a stew of fried English pea dumplings and thin squares of roti flatbread mingled with crunchy peanuts, radishes, and cilantro in a warm lentil broth.
We always save room for dessert. A sweet mango soft-serve does the trick, topped with crushed cashews and cubes of dried apricot—a soothing end to a spicy adventure.
// Besharam, 1275 Minnesota St. (Dogpatch) besharamrestaurant.com