Dosa Factory Restaurant- Best Indian Restaurant in Boston
Anyone who has known me for over an hour would easily know that I have had a lifelong obsession and passion for India- the country, the food, the culture, the history. In my extensive travels in India years ago, I saw beauty in her people the likes of which are rarely reported in sensationalist journalism that is the norm today, particularly in the United States. You never hear about the beautiful spirits of people living in third world poverty lines who offer complete strangers to share their meager meal. You never hear about the smiles of grandmothers on the streets of Mumbai and Calcutta working all day under the hot sun selling fruits and vegetables for pennies.
As intense as India and her people are, Indian food is equally as intense and that’s exactly what I love about it.
It was on a snowy and windy day in Boston that I had a craving for something warm, something nourishing and comforting and nothing on Newbury Street was cutting it. I know some of you who are familiar with Boston are probably asking why I would stick around a touristy area like Newbury to hunt for good food. Well, let’s first clarify that as many tourists that trek the expensive blocks of Newbury, there is a tantamount number of locals who live and work on that street.
After getting pleasantly lost in and out of art galleries, historic churches and underground cafés, I stumbled upon Dosa Restaurant. My first reaction was complete skepticism; after all, an Indian restaurant on Newbury- how good could it be?
Up a short flight of stairs and you’re greeted by jewel tone yellows and columns of Thali platters hanging on the walls. This is a hole-in-the-wall for sure, but a clean one with windows all the way around, providing lovely views of Newbury Street. The extensive menu was surprising right off the bat, with dishes that I rarely see in the West outside of India, including Gol Goppas, Bhel Puri and Batata Katka.
I ordered these on top of what the restaurant is actually famous for- their Dosas– humongous Indian crepes stuffed with a variety of fillings, from spiced potatoes to cheese to veggies. The red chili pepper chutney accompanying the Dosa was surprisingly one of the most memorable aspects of the meal- a little savory, a little tart and just a faint touch of sweetness to balance out the spice.
While the Gol Goppas were executed to perfection- house-made crisp Puris, light and golden, with spiced potatoes and accompanying tart tamarind and refreshing mint chutneys, the Bhel Puri stayed with me weeks after the meal, lingering in the back of my mind as every outstanding meal does. The Bhel Puri was beautifully presented in a crispy papadum shell, its vibrant rainbow of colors exploding visually before its flavors did the same on my tongue.
A mélange of puffed rice, sev (crispy short vermicelli pieces), finely chopped onions, potatoes, tamarind and mint chutneys, lemon, cilantro, puris, garlic, chili peppers and chopped cucumber, Bhel Puri is tart, sweet, salty, a little spicy, warm, cold and every other juxtaposition of opposite you can imagine in one dish. While the flavors brought me right back to 2 a.m. runs to street stalls in Mumbai, the layer upon layer of textures demanded my full attention on the meal, a rare feat indeed.
For those of you unfamiliar with Bhel Puri, it is considered a snack food in India and an appetizer in Indian restaurants in the West, but is often served in large portions so can be enough as a main course.
To be fair to the culinary artists in the kitchen at Dosa Factory, every dish that came out was well worth ordering. There is a short but decent list of Thalis- the complete meals served on those iconic silver platters with rice, veggies, curries, pickles and naan, which brings me to my next love here. The naan and parathas at Dosa are soft as can be- dare I say, among the top 5 best in America. If you opt for garlic naan (almost always what I order), you’ll see a generous sprinkling of real minced garlic and herbs, not garlic powder as too many Indian restaurants use. These Indian breads are perfectly proportioned- just thick enough to sink your teeth into but pillowy soft so they melt in your mouth after just a few chews.
By the way, almost everything on the menu here is under US $10. Between a friend and I, we ordered 2 chais, 3 appetizers and 3 main dishes and spent under $50 including tip (we tip well). And the service was actually friendly- something generally missing from many Indian restaurants.
Suffice it to say, when I’m in Boston, you’ll find me parked at one of a handful of my all time favorite restaurants and Dosa Factory on Newbury is one of them. Just goes to show- don’t easily write off a somewhat touristy area for not having great food. Every now and then, you come across a real gem.
Dosa Factory Restaurant
316 Newbury St.
Boston, MA 02115