SFReview

photo credit: Stephanie Court

Besharam review image
9.0

Besharam

At the back of Besharam, there’s a mural of a woman. She looks like someone who recently just told a wild story of a random connection she made at late night roller disco. The full account exists on the internet somewhere as an extended Twitter thread. Variations of this woman are all over the restaurant’s plates marked with sayings like, “Spicy Food Is For Spicy Girls” and “Hot Chai, Cold Revenge.”

The wall (painted by subversive artist Hatecopy) exudes Beyoncé and Ali Wong-level confidence—just like the upscale-leaning Gujarati restaurant in the Dogpatch. At Besharam, dishes are intensely flavored and have an assertive vision: spotlight western Indian food and remix them with new ingredients.

Carly Hackbarth

Besharam review image

This spot dropped meat from the menu and revamped it (for the second time) in summer 2021. Four sections highlight flavors from major cities in Gujarat, each with a handful of vegetarian small plates and mains. Mix and match, or stick with one region—just don’t expect a traditional Gujarati spread. We’d recommend playing roulette with the menu, as the odds of picking a winner are extremely high. But many of the best dishes are those that pack some heat, like the fire charred eggplant with garlic confit that tastes like a smokey open flame or the buttery malai koftas covered in velvety, richly spiced tomato-based sauce.

Across all sections of the menu, you’ll find that Besharam pulls from the Make-Your-Own-Rules playbook. Yes, that’s blue cheese in the parathas, and bitter melon in the sticky chutney. Garlicky pea shoots and raita are heaped atop tender Impossible kebabs. And mint-infused tamarind water for the crispy pani puri contains actual gin.

Carly Hackbarth

Besharam review image

But Besharam’s originality is only part of what makes it special. This personal place taps into chef Heena Patel’s family recipes and childhood memories. She’s a mainstay in the open kitchen—which, fittingly, is bordered by the mural—and frequently looks up into the industrial-style space to send calm energy while her husband works the floor. “Is this your first time here?” he might ask, like an excited old friend. The restaurant is also located in an area that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, so expect easygoing dinners that won’t result in you accidentally bumping into someone in a puffer zip up. The neon Besharam sign points the way.

Food Rundown

Drunken Pani Puri

We get into easily excitable yorkipoo pup mode whenever we think about the drunken pani puri. The semolina puffs are delicate. The mix inside this edition is a light potato, peas, and onion mash, but what really perks us up is the herby lemon and tamarind water with actual gin. We bet good money you’ll try to sip it like a cocktail instead of pouring the liquid into each puff.

Carly Hackbarth

Besharam review image

Ringan No Oro

The mashed eggplant with garlic confit and urfa chili taste like it was forged in the fires of Mount Doom. Yes, a Tolkien reference, and yes, the smokiness in this dish is powerful and overwhelming. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Carly Hackbarth

Besharam review image

Candy Karela Pickles

There’s also a section of pickled things ($4 each), like a chili garlic and shredded mango and black mustard. Hone in on the candy karela. It’ll go well with pretty much whatever else you order, but you’ll probably end up treating it like a side dish and eating it by itself anyway—it’s that good.

Bagara Bagara

The creamy stew is coconut-y and aromatic. It’s also one of the milder options on the menu, and comes topped with a decent portion of purple potatoes and okra.

Carly Hackbarth

Besharam review image

Maska Paneer

We’d choose the maska paneer for our team any day. That’s because the salty cheese is made in house and then crumbled all over the spinach-based sauce. This dish must be on your table.

Carly Hackbarth

Besharam review image

Besharam Samosas

An incredibly light and plump samosa. Nothing more, nothing less. Two per order.

Chutneys

The menu section dedicated to chutneys is worth your attention. The five offerings are made in house and range from sweet (like pounded mango) to spicy (like one with ghost peppers and urfa chili). Our favorite is the mint cilantro which slowly builds heat. Getting one or two with your meal is one way to take it to the next level, but isn’t essential, especially since each is an additional $3.

Carly Hackbarth

Besharam review image

Malai Koftas

The paneer croquettes are buttery and creamy. And the spicy sauce builds heat. The only downside to this velvety dish is there are just three croquettes but a swimming pool’s worth of makhani sauce, so order theplas or rice with it.

Featured in

.
The 25 Best Restaurants In SF guide image
Guide
The 25 Best Restaurants In SF

Meet our 25 highest-rated restaurants.

17 Restaurants With Action At The Bar guide image
Guide
17 Restaurants With Action At The Bar

Eating at the bar is just as much fun as sitting in the dining room. Here’s where to do it.

The Casual Date Night Dinner & Drinks Guide guide image
Guide
The Casual Date Night Dinner & Drinks Guide

The ultimate guide to dinner and drinks.

20 Great Vegetarian Restaurants In San Francisco guide image
Guide
20 Great Vegetarian Restaurants In San Francisco

Where to eat when you want more vegetarian options than "seasonal market sides."

Suggested Reading

.
20 Great Vegetarian Restaurants In San Francisco guide image
Guide
20 Great Vegetarian Restaurants In San Francisco

Where to eat when you want more vegetarian options than "seasonal market sides."

Where To Eat And Drink In Potrero Hill & Dogpatch guide image
Guide
Where To Eat And Drink In Potrero Hill & Dogpatch

All the best places to eat and drink in Potrero Hill and Dogpatch.

Piccino review image
7.9
Review
Piccino

Piccino is a neighborhood staple in the Dogpatch serving Italian-inspired pizzas and pastas inside of a quaint yellow Victorian.

Where To Eat And Drink Near The Chase Center guide image
Guide
Where To Eat And Drink Near The Chase Center

19 great spots for before or after a Warriors game or concert at the Chase Center.