Husband-wife team, Anjan and Emily Mitra, owners of DOSA, share a passion for South Indian cuisine and culture that is part of the experience they’ve created at their restaurants. DOSA is a renowned, San Francisco dining institution with two locations in San Francisco serving innovative and authentic South Indian cuisine with a world-class spice-driven cocktail program.
Anjan grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai) eating and learning the culture and cuisines and Emily brings a strong passion for local and sustainable produce from her years in the health food industry to DOSA. The Mitra’s are long-time denizens of San Francisco and their passion for South Indian cuisine and culture is what energizes their restaurants. Together, their goal to introduce San Francisco to the food they love is what led to the successful conception of DOSA.
Emily and Anjan collaborated with Jim Maxwell of Architects II and R3 Builders to develop a design that reflects the rapidly changing face of urban India. The light-filled corner building with floor-to-ceiling windows has open airy feel and a stunning mezzanine level. It combines South India’s culture and antiquities with San Francisco’s urban sensibility. Recessed walls on the main dining floor contain Mary Brogger’s ‘steel fabrics’ inspired by Indian patterns, which shed an embroidery of shadows. The custom bar top has been built with recycled glass, mother-of-pearl and mirrors. Rich-wood ensconced columns divide the main dining room and create intimate spaces among the “green technology” leather banquettes and bamboo furniture. A celebration of South Indian culture comes by way of walls flanked with vivid, photo-journalistic shots by local photographer Anthony Kurtz and Olivier Föllmi that warmly illustrate the lives of Indians in their native environment. The grand entrance windows on Fillmore welcomes guests with Sharon Marston’s handcrafted sculptural chandeliers that sparkle onto the sidewalk through angular steel beams reminiscent of the Golden Gate. Combined, the overall design depicts a mutual admiration of San Francisco and South Indian culture, creating a long-term home for DOSA.
Keeping within the theme of the original Mission-based location, the new DOSA not only continues to source the highest quality local, organic, sustainable and seasonal ingredients, but also expands this philosophy into the physical build-out of the restaurant.
There has been a significant commitment to construct the entire restaurant using sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives. Just a few of these include solar-powered water heaters, recycled glass for the bar tops and faces, FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council) and non-PVC materials, energy-efficient HVAC and kitchen equipment, remote refrigeration, complete window tinting that save 4.6 tonnes in heating requirements, water-conserving low-flow appliances and intelligent energy-management hoods.
“We never knew that the residents of this City and the Bay Area would so warmly welcome DOSA and South Indian cuisine! At DOSA on Fillmore we are hoping to recreate a dining experience by serving dishes inspired by the wonderful flavors of Southern India in a cosmopolitan environment that could easily exist in any of the rapidly-evolving urban centers in India, such as Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai or Delhi, and at the same time, be part of the wonderful culinary culture of San Francisco” says Indian-born Anjan.
Ever since he left Bombay (now Mumbai) at the age of 18 to study in the U.S., Anjan has always sought to recreate the wonderfully aromatic and complex flavors of his mother’s cooking. He spent the first 19 years of his career working in high-tech at companies, then realizing his true passion lied in hospitality and food. He pursued a new entrepreneurial path as a restaurateur with a cuisine that he believed was under- represented in the U.S.
Mitra is the Executive Chef/Co-Owner and together with his talented team of South Indian Chefs in the kitchen, leads the overall culinary direction of the menu, which represents the traditional styles of Southern Indian cooking and spices. Dishes on the menu are inspired by recipes from Anjan’s family, as well as the families of their team of chefs.
When Anjan is not at either restaurant locations, on the line prepping or plating during service, he can be found biking many of the Bay Area trails, spending time with his two daughters and traveling. Him and his wife reside in San Francisco. Anjan is also on the Board of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
A native to upstate New York, Emily’s experience with Indian cuisine broadened quickly upon meeting Anjan Mitra in San Francisco in the late 90’s and through their travel and culinary adventures throughout India. Inspired by the flavors and complexity of the food from Southern India, Emily saw an opportunity to represent the unique qualities of South Indian food in the West through the use of key ingredients combined with her more urban perspective with regards to ambiance, plating and beverage pairings. By December 2005 Emily and Anjan brought their vision to life opening DOSA on Valencia, a 50- seat restaurant on a small, vibrant corner in the heart of the Mission District.
With great momentum and enthusiasm to expand their menu and the offerings, the Mitras opened their second location in November of 2008, DOSA on Fillmore, with a completely green build out. In 2014, Emily and Anjan expanded their business yet again opening Dosateria, a fast growing Indian “fast casual” concept featuring healthy food at a lower fare and accessible to a broad, mainstream audience. Currently Dosateria is in partnership with Whole Foods having opened its first location inside their flagship store in Cupertino and with Aramark, one of the world’s largest third party food service operators. Dosateria plans to expand nationally in the next five years.
Emily is also active member of her community as both a mother with two young girls and as a businesswoman. In addition to DOSA Restaurants, Emily built and operates DOSA Catering, a full- service South Indian catering company and serves as Vice President of Japantown Center Garage Corporation (JCGC) and Board Director for The Kitchen.