When you work in the south of Market area (SOMA) in San Francisco, sometimes it can be a challenge to figure out what to eat for lunch. Yes, there are a fair number of choices, but many have been there awhile and after working down there for over 5 years you can get pretty tired of what there is. Thus, it's always nice when a new place opens to add to the choices. And not just new, but different than the usual sandwich places that seem to abound. One new place is Tava Indian Kitchen. This is their first location in San Francisco but the original is locate in Palo Alto and has done well there. The basic concept here is simple, you can pick either a burroti (an Indian burrito), a rice bowl or a salad bowl and then pick your meat, sauce topping then choose our fixings. It's pretty much like at a Chipotle except instead of Mexican burrito choices it's Indian food choices.
If you go with the burroti, this guy (or some other guy) will press a fresh one out for you on this machine that basically flattens and cooks the dough all at the same time. It's kind of neat to see. From there you then go down the line and add the stuff you want. Watching my carbs this day I decided to go with the salad bowl and added chicken and tikka sauce.
Basically it's chicken tikka masala over lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers, purple onions, chilies and a medium spiced cilantro chutney. Yes, it looks a little messy but that was because I bumped it as I sat down at the table. When they are loading it on the lettuce the do nice coordinated portions. First impressions however, are that it all looks really fresh and green and fortunately, it tastes that way too. The chicken was nicely grilled and the tikka sauce was a not too sweet or overly spicy blend of tomatoes and the usual spices cumin, garam masala, paprika, coriander, etc. I like the flavors and with the addition of the cilantro chutney, it added that small extra kick of a medium spice with a touch of lime. The vegetable toppings were crispy and crunchy, adding great additional texture and color to what is a surprisingly tasty and filling lunch meal. I had a brief chat with one of the owners of the place as he was making rounds of the tables asking folks how they liked things. I told him I really enjoyed the food and how fresh things were and he said they cut the vegetables and make the sauces every morning to maintain the flavors and I said keep it up because it's really working.
If you work near this 2nd and Mission location and are looking for a quick, healthy and new thing to try for lunch one day I highly recommend stopping in and giving them a try--affordable, fast and tasty--you'll be glad you did.