The tikka masala burrito is coming to Oakland, permanently.
Starting early next year, fans of the Indian-Mexican burrito will no longer need to check Curry Up Now’s food truck schedule to get a fix. The San Mateo-based mini-chain will be opening its fifth brick-and-mortar location in the former Mockingbird space in Uptown.
For the uninitiated, a tikka masala burrito is, well, basically what it sounds like: tikka masala curry made with chicken, paneer cheese, or gobi (cauliflower); rice; chana (chickpeas) and onions, all wrapped up in a giant tortilla. It developed a serious following when served out of Curry Up Now’s original food trucks several years ago, and is now one of many burritos on the menu.
“In the end, it’s the tikka masala burrito that pays my mortgage,” co-owner Akash Kapoor told the San Francisco Chronicle this spring.
Despite the burrito’s popularity, Curry Up Now also serves a wide ranging array of Indian street food and chaat, plus other fusion-y dishes like “Sexy Fries” (an Indian-inspired poutine) and “Naughty Naan” (flatbread topped with cheese, caramelized onions, jalapeños and curry). Each of the restaurant’s locations in San Francisco, San Mateo, Palo Alto and San Jose serves a slightly different menu. All of the restaurant’s meats are halal, its eggs cage free and its produce locally sourced. The brick-and-mortar Curry Up Now locations use real plates and utensils to minimize waste.
The mini-chain first opened as a food truck in 2009 with the mission of “bringing our unique blend of traditional Indian flavors presented in a friendly, recognizable way to the world.”
In addition to its brick-and-mortar spots, Akash Kapoor and co-owner Rana Kapoor also oversee five food trucks and two cocktail bars called Mortar and Pestle. According to a recent story in Eater, Akash Kapoor plans continue expanding on a national scale, with a goal of 300 to 500 brick-and-mortar locations.
Dyana Lovold, the director of marketing and branding, told Nosh in an email that Oakland’s Curry Up Now will have a few new items on the menu, such as lamb and chicken burgers “with a Curry Up Now twist,” as well as a weekend brunch menu and a late night menu served after neighboring New Parish events.
Curry Up Now will be transforming Mockingbird’s understated interior to “have an old Calcutta ethos with wicker and wood finishes, tile work, ceiling fans and colorful portraits from Rajasthan adorning the walls,” said Lovold.
It will also, hopefully, have an ABC license. Mockingbird decided to vacate the location after problems with licensing in the building prevented it from selling beer, wine or even a corkage fee. Curry Up Now does have a pending license for beer and wine sales, and the restaurant doesn’t anticipate having any issues.
“Fingers crossed,” Lovold said.
Want to break out of your comfort zone and try a new place to have dinner tonight? Check out the Nosh Neighborhood Guides to some our favorite eating and imbibing spots.