Sometimes, for a good vegetarian dining experience, you have to go a bit out of your way. I’m really stretching the point to say Udupi Palace is “near” the school. However, when you study ESL abroad at EC San Francisco, a little extra journey for a different taste sensation can be worth it.
Udupi Palace is Indian vegetarian, specializing in South Indian street snack food (“chaat”), particularly dosas. A dosa is a thin, crispy pancake similar to a French crepe, with a spicy filling of potato and onion curry. It comes with a quite hot soup (“sambar” – watch out for the whole dried chilis) and two chutneys – a mild, coconut-based one, and a red one that has I don’t know what in it, but it isn’t mild. There are also other traditional snack foods such as “idli,” a nightly selection of curries, and a couple of “thali” platters, a mini-feast with a variety of curries, breads, and flavored rices (try the lemon rice.) Prices are midrange. If you get a thali, you will have some food to take home. You can eat a whole dosa at one sitting (barely), but you probably won’t want dessert. The kitchen is wholly vegetarian (although not all dishes are vegan), so you don’t have to worry about stray bits of meat, fish, or poultry winding up in your food.
Udupi Palace is an easy 5 blocks from the 24th and Mission BART station (3 long blocks on Mission, 2 short ones on 21st), located on Valencia at 21st. There are several other excellent vegetarian / vegan restaurants in the area, so it’s worth becoming familiar with the journey. Your stomach will thank you.