Any recommendations of South Indian restaurants in the area that serve thali, dosas, idli, vada, etc.? I've found that a nearby Indian restaurant (actually inside an *Irish pub* -- Kennedy's Irish Pub & Curry House, 1040 Columbus near Chestnut/Francisco, tel: 415/441-8855) serves specials of traditional masala dosa, idli, and dahi wada with sides of sambar and coconut chutney. The dosas are nice and cripsy at the edges, the idli are freshly steamed, the sambar is subtly tangy with tamarind -- a recommend. Kennedy's is a fun disconnect; the pub section is separate from the restaurant area, but it's all open and the music varies wildly (Billy Holiday one minute, Abba the next).
One caveat: since they do a buffet at lunch, if you order the dosa in the afternoon they'll need extra time to heat up the grill (approx. 25 minutes from time of order to getting the dosa). They warn you when you order that it'll take time, but have always been pretty tickled when I tell them I'll wait. Today I phoned in my lunch order 20 minutes ahead of time, then showed up and had to wait only five minutes for food.
Can anyone recommend other places for dosas, etc.? How about thali meals? I've got fun memories of being served thali on banana leaves at all-you-can-eat places, by waiters who would come by with buckets of rice, big bowls of sambar, chutneys, etc. and ladle out individual servings.