What's this? Another Boston-area restaurant buried in the back of a food store? Yup, and this one just happens to be a short drive away from two others that come to mind in this category: Vinny's at Night, an Italian eatery in East Somerville, and J & J Restaurant, a Portuguese dining spot in Somerville's Union Square neighborhood. And like those two places, Cambridge's Dosa Factory is a real hidden gem that doesn't seem to be that well known outside of the immediate area in which it resides (Central Square).
Located in the back of a small Indian grocery store called Shalimar India Food & Spices that is on Mass. Ave. in the heart of Central Square, Dosa Factory is a cafeteria-style spot overlooking the market that has a handful of brightly colored booths and a counter where diners order their food. A tiny second room sits off across from the counter area, and a separate entrance/exit beyond the counter leads back to a parking lot and Bishop Richard Allen Drive. (And there's a rumor that outdoor seating might come to the eatery at some point.) A plexiglass window partially separates the restaurant from the grocery store, though the intriguing smells of the spices from the market easily permeate up to the dining area.
Dosa Factory is billed as an Indian "street food" type of restaurant, and dosas are indeed considered a type of inexpensive street food, but the menu here includes much more than just dosas. Here you will find many dishes found at other Indian restaurants, including naan (the aloo naan is wonderful, with a spicy potato mix within the bread), paratha, saag, vindaloo, biryani, and tandoori chicken. There are even some Indian-Chinese items at Dosa Factory, such as chili paneer and vegetarian hakka noodles. But look around the dining area and you'll probably see mostly dosas on people's plates, as that is their true signature dish. And what dosas they are; huge rolled-up fried crepes that are sprinkled with chili powder and filled with any number of ingredients, from lamb to eggplant to shrimp and swordfish to scrambled eggs. Two specific dosas that are served at Dosa Factory include a chicken tikka dosa that combines Northern Indian cuisine (tandoori chicken) with Southern Indian fare (dosas), and a potato dosa that features cooked onions and curry leaves. Alcohol is not served at Dosa Factory, but there are some interesting drinks, including the ever-popular mango lassi, an ultra-sweet lychee drink, a similarly sweet rose lassi, and a slightly sour lemonade that is filled with earthy-tasting herbs. Desserts include a tasty mango melba sundae that has mango pieces and mango puree over vanilla ice cream.
Dosa Factory may be part of a group of Indian restaurants in the Boston area (Diva in Somerville, Kashmir in the Back Bay, Cafe of India in Cambridge, and others), but its location in the back of an Indian market helps give it the feel of being an independent place. It isn't gourmet, and is by no means a place to go for a romantic dinner, but if you like good food cheap and enjoy that sense of "discovery" when it comes to restaurants, it's tough to beat Dosa Factory. [Ed note: A second Dosa Factory will eventually be opening in Waltham.]
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