Cheap Date: Via Goa
Let’s make a deal: If you decide to eat here—and you should—you will not order samosas, pakoras, or aloo gobhi. Not because those things aren’t good, but because Viva Goa specializes in food from the Indian region of Goa, a coastal state where the cuisine has been heavily influenced by a 450-year-old Portuguese stay that ended in 1961. Viva Goa is the only place in San Francisco where you can try this style of food—lots of seafood, rich with coconut and redolent with warm spices such as clove and cinnamon. Try the Malabar Jinga (shrimp cooked with garlic, mustard, and curry leaves in a tangy, spiced tomato sauce), followed by the pomfret (a flat fish stuffed with a brick-red spice paste and onions, and then gently fried). Vindaloo is probably the most ubiquitous Goan dish found in America, and it’s on the menu here. The pork vindaloo—the blend of cardamom, fenugreek, cinnamon, black pepper, and chiles, hit with a dose of vinegar. In fact, try it all. You can eat ordinary chicken curry any day.
2420 Lombard St., 415-440-2600, vivagoaindiancuisine.com