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moto | Dec 22, 201412:06 AM    

representing two completely different food cultures, within a two block stretch of Fourth St. in San Rafael, Johnnys donuts and Lotus Chaat and Spices. available Sunday was one gluten free variety of donut at Johnnys, kind of a free form apple blueberry fritter. pretty good for the genre, though not really comparable to the apple fritters made with conventional flour in the places that excel in them (often made large enough to feed three or four). the chocolate old fashioned made from their other dough that uses potato and wheat was light in texture and not very sweet, without the good crunchy exterior of a conventional old fashioned, but pleasant enough.

there are actually two Lotus Indian restaurants on Fourth St., one cooking North Indian foods that offers gluten free naan, the other with more South Indian dishes and chaat items with an adjacent grocery. the latter branch is open for Sunday brunch/lunch and close to the donut shop. its small grocery had a fairly good assortment of spices, condiments, snacks, plus some frozen prepared items.

unconventionally, the restaurant offers several non-vegetarian dosas. my spouse enjoyed hers, filled with lamb and spinach, while my thali included a more conventional masala dosa. the dosas are quite well executed, thin and crispy. included with her dosa was a bowl of sambar and a coconut chutney. along with the dosa the thali came with a portion of spinach and paneer, basmati rice, sambar, an excellent crispy, light vada, and an idly with a spicy tomato dip. their kitchen uses organic ingredients, and everything tasted quite fresh. price wise, diners should not expect the budget level of the Santa Clara county/Milpitas-Fremont eateries, but about .30 higher. still, we ate very well with a chai (one refill included for three bucks, to illustrate the price point) for forty dollars including tax but not tip. they offer a two dollar lunch discount on many menu items, so our bill would have regularly been four bucks higher.

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