What's for lunch? Top Chef fans will remember Preeti Mistry from season six of the series. That will surely be one draw to her new pop-up, Juhu Beach Club. But real food lovers will go for other reasons -- namely, her creative Indian street food and home-style cooking.
I was delighted to receive word in mid-March about the opening of Juhu. I'm always longing for more unusual or local Indian dishes beyond the curry houses I love so well. And after a couple visits to the spot, I have not been disappointed.
Mistry's eatery resides inside a humble liquor store, Garage Cafe, where you can chat with the chef as she cooks up your meal. Start with seasonal chaat ($4), puri-like snacks in tamarind sauce. Portions are generous for the price and the ingredients fresh.
Preeti has fun with sandwiches like the Sloppy Lil' P ($7), a vegetarian twist on the sloppy joe. On a buttery Acme bun, the patty is made of potatoes, onions, cauliflowers, peas, and carrots. It's a comforting, warm mash laced with spices. The BOM Egg Salad Sandwich via LHR to SFO ($6) may be too long a moniker, but it's a fine sandwich of Straus yogurt-based egg salad laced with garam masala spices, topped with watercress and English cucumber.
For meat lovers, there's the Holy Slow Braised Cow ($9): tender, smoky black cardamom short ribs in a bun with cucumber raita. Pickled sides of chilies, beets, and garlic cloves make for worthy sandwich accents.
The Sassy Lassi ($3) is – thankfully -- a salty (but refreshing) lassi, reminiscent of more traditional versions I've had. The drink is balanced with mango, lime, and toasted cumin, pleasing to the savory tooth like myself.
Best of all, Mistry just returned from a food and booze-filled trip to New Orleans she took for culinary inspiration. Creatively enthused, she's now adding NoLa influences into Juhu's mix, offering varying specials with a Big Easy stamp. Her “Shrimp Po'Bhai” includes BBQ shrimp laced with curry leaves and ginger.
I suggest you go sooner rather than later – this is already one of the more gratifying take-out, and creative Indian, spots in all of SF.
Juhu Beach Club
Open weekdays 11:30-2:30 p.m.
Inside the Garage Cafe
320 11th St., SF
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