Of the many lessons I’ve learned from dining out in Columbus, the most important is to “never judge food by its restaurant” (to paraphrase an aphorism). Some of the most beautifully designed and well-marketed restaurants serve some of the most unimpressive and average (yet still expensive) food; the big name restaurants in the city don’t always live up to their hype. Conversely, some of the best food in town comes from eateries residing in mundane storefronts or suburban strip malls.
One of the best examples of an understated restaurant is Dosa Corner. Housed in a small, nondescript building on the corner of Kenny and Old Henderson Roads, Dosa Corner serves the vegetarian-friendly cuisine of southern India. While their menu does feature a variety of rice and curry options, their specialties are the street food staples dosas and uthappams.
Both dosas and uthappams are made from a fermented rice and lentil batter. The fermentation process not only leavens the batter, it imparts a delicious, slightly sour note to the dosas and uthappams (the sourness is not nearly as pronounced as it is in injera, the spongy bread featured in Ethiopian dishes). The difference between the two lies in their thickness; dosas are more crepe-like, whereas uthappams are thicker and resemble a pancake. The batter for dosas is spread thinly on a griddle and cooked until crispy. Depending on the variety of dosa, a mixture that can include onions, potatoes, chickpeas, spinach, or tomatoes is added to the dosa, which is then folded to envelop the filling. Uthappams, on the other hand, are served like a pizza, with their ingredients cooked onto the top of the batter. Since they are rice and lentil based, dosas and uthappams make an excellent choice for those on a gluten-free diet.
When ordered individually, the dosas and uthappams at Dosa Corner are accompanied by a bowl of sambar (a vegetable soup) and a spicy, chickpea-based chutney. For the full Dosa Corner experience, however, I suggest opting for one of their thali combos. In addition to your choice of dosa/uthappam, thalis include the sambar and chutney, plus idli (a steamed rice and lentil dumpling with a more neutral taste; its texture is similar to grits), wada (a savory fried lentil donut), and gulab jamun (a dessert composed of a deep-fried ball—similar to a donut hole but much richer—in a sweet, light syrup). We have noticed on occasional visits that, due to availability, the wada and/or dessert have been substituted for other items, which proved to be an excellent opportunity to try some of the other appetizer and dessert offerings.
Dosa Corner is a seemingly unremarkable restaurant; its diminutive profile is shrouded from the main street by a strip mall and bar. Based solely on its appearance, it’s a hole in the wall. But, as they say, appearances can be deceiving. What’s produced from within this somewhat lackluster facade is some of the best southern Indian food in Columbus.