Bangalore food bleg

by on June 26, 2013 at 12:19 am in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink

Yana is hungry — now — and I will be there in July.  Please tell us how and where to eat!  And indeed how to think about that eating.  I thank you in advance for your contributions.

Ashish Kulkarni June 26, 2013 at 12:53 am

I’d recommend MTR, near Lalbagh, for its dosas and idlis. One of my personal favourites is the Coorgi Pork Fry at a small pub called Pecos, just off Brigade Road. Windsor Pub also serves some good Coorgi food.
Bangalore has some very good Andhra restaurants, Nagarjuna on Residency Road used to be quite good.

Rahul June 26, 2013 at 12:59 am

How strong are your stomachs? That’s key. The full local experience in India is microbially a whole different ball game than most other places.

Andreas Moser June 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Can you get used to it?

Rahul June 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Yes. Partially. Just my opinion.

Jacob A. Geller June 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm

I am in India for the summer, and IMO people (Indians included) vastly overstate the unacceptability of Indian food to the American stomach. Everyone keeps acting like I’m just going to keel over if I eat Indian food, or they ask “can you eat Indian food?”, and then to their surprise I eat it and sure enough, it’s just food. I have had no stomach problems since I got here. And usually it’s delicious, too. As for spiciness (a separate issue from microbial-ness), it’s not too different from Mexican food, or at least it doesn’t HAVE to be.

Rahul June 27, 2013 at 8:24 am

I think there’s a large variance depending on (a) what sort of restaurants you frequent (b) if you have been exposed to third world food before (c) just interpersonal variations.

I’ve known people like you who’ve had no trouble at all and others whose GI systems had a miserable time.

rg June 26, 2013 at 1:00 am

1. most “darshinis” are consistently good, i.e. it is hard to have a bad meal and you will find people from various income strata. you’ll have to eat standing up though.

2. the “benne masale dosa” at central tiffin room in malleswaram. also, the “sagu masale dosa” at vidhyarthi bhavan in gandhi bazaar. you will find a. old people b. native Kannada speakers c. high turnaround times in both places.

3. the rava idly at mtr or adiga’s. you’ll be interested to know that mtr created the rava idly in WWII when rice – the principal ingredient for the normal idly – was in short supply.

Hakim June 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

Plan a visit to thirteen floor. Near city center

Sanjay P June 26, 2013 at 1:05 am

MTR Tiffin House is an institution not to be missed.
There is Fanoos Kebabs, really a roadside eatery with somewhat dodgy hygiene. The food, however, is etched deep into the brains of many Bangaloreans.
Don’t leave without tasting Bangalore’s coffee. The south-Indian version, brewed in a very slow filter, then cut with milk that has spent many hours on a slow flame, getting mildly caramelized is an altogether different experience. India Coffee House on Church St is the original go-to joint, but many others serve a fantastic cup.
For a taste of the very local – seek out a place that serves Ragi Mudde – a big ball of cooked millet dough – with a spicy meat curry. Prepare to get your fingers busy.
This is also the tail-end of the mango season. Find a dozen or so Bangenapalli mangoes and enjoy them. I have heard there are other varieties that rival this one for aroma and taste, but I have yet to encounter one.

Amod June 26, 2013 at 1:19 am

Apart from the good suggestions above, I’d suggest Naturals ice cream, for a very different ice cream experience (multiple locations), Cafe Thulp (Kormangala) for some good egg based dishes and Calcutta on a Roll (Indiranagar). None of these are Bangalore specific cuisines, but are very popular esp with the younger crowds.

shrikanthk June 26, 2013 at 1:32 am

Woody’s on Commercial street is not bad. A centrally located vegetarian restaurant.

shrikanthk June 26, 2013 at 2:56 am

An alternative to MTR (which has been recommended by many) is Vidyarthi Bhavan near Gandhi Bazaar

RM June 26, 2013 at 2:06 am

There was this food group that people were very happy with, before it died. One of the spin-off FB groups may still be good.
The FinB food revolution http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/11W01iFqN20XbQrMtwKbTK/Bangalore-Bhath–The-FinB-food-revolution.html

CD June 26, 2013 at 2:16 am

MTR is essential, both for the food and the time-warp ambience. For similar ambience reasons I’m fond of Indian Coffee House on MG Road (just for the coffee). There are good bookstores close by.

It has been a few years now, but in my last couple visits South Indies (http://www.thesouthindies.com/) was a standout. They make a serious effort to do the four South Indian cuisines, so you get a lot more variety than idli-dosa-sambar.

If you haven’t had Indian Chinese food this is also not a bad city to get some, but I can’t recommend a particular place.

Apoorv T June 26, 2013 at 2:20 am

Try the Idli at Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, No. 3, Ranga Rao Road, Uma Theatre, Sankarapuram, Bangalore

Chirag June 26, 2013 at 2:34 am

Bangalore has lots of good options, with varied hygiene levels.. If you can eat with your hands, the satisfaction would be that much greater..

Kaushal Desai June 26, 2013 at 4:05 am

Ever since you posted about the Dotchka spending time in India, I’ve been thinking I should get you in touch with foodie friends and family who are resident there. Undoubtedly, so could a whole lot of other readers, so let me know if you think it’ll be useful.

For me, it’s been a good number of years since I went to Bangalore and I’ve never come away with a bad stomach as long as you stick to the local cuisine. Just stay away from sandwiches that have a suspicious-looking mixture like cole-slaw in it.

Arun June 26, 2013 at 4:23 am

Except for the last couple of decades, most Indian cities never had a strong ‘eating out’ culture. In Bangalore, families tended to go out once a week for between meal snacks rather than lunch or dinner.
Traditional restaurants such as Vidyarthi Bhavan, Brahmin Cafe, MTR, Shree Sagar (aka CTR – Central Tiffin Room) offer south indian snacks including idli, vada, dosas etc. They only offer breakfast and evening ‘snacks’ and are closed for lunch/dinner – MTR is an exception to this. Most of these restaurants serve vegetarian ‘udupi brahmin’ food.
Over the past couple of decades Bangalore has arguably become the most cosmopolitan Indian city. A few stand out restaurants offering regional variations-
Rajvardhan Foods (Maharashtrian Fast Food), Zingron (Nagaland), Daddy’s Deli (Parsi), Poushtik (gujarat – bharuch), Junior kuppanna (chettinad), Hotel Tibet (Tibetan)

Other cuisines -
Samarkhand for North West Frontier / Afghan food, Sufi (persian), Soo Ra Sang (Korean), Herbs & Spice (assorted european)

A wedding feast will be an interesting experience as well. & a traditional south indian meal at home as well…
Drop me a line if you need help with your plans…

prem June 26, 2013 at 5:46 am

RR @ Brigade Road for Andhra style Chicken
Kudla At Ramanshree Hotel foe coastal (mangalore) cuisine
Nagarjuna (various branches) for Biryani and ‘Meals’
MTR for traditional south Indian vegetarian snacks and Meals
Sunny’s at Vittal Malya Road for Indian style ‘continental food’

Foodeshwar Rao June 26, 2013 at 6:17 am

I didn’t see Veena Stores in Malleswaram recommended yet. There are queues there from 6 in the morning to get a hold of their awesome South Indian fare. Very very awesome.

I’d +1 Fanoos — dodgy hygiene, but that barbecued beef “sheekh roll” has some of the best meat I’ve eaten. I’ve heard Siddiqui’s in that neighbourhood has surpassed Fanoos, but I haven’t been there yet.

Strangely though, I find Cafe Max in the Max Mueller Bhavan in Indiranagar to have phenomenal German/European food — often better than what I’ve had in
Europe itself! Portland Steak House (started by guys who used to work at The Only Place, another old and famous steak-house) serves up some fantastic steaks too. And their wine selection is wider.

Nagarjuna is a good idea — but do keep some sweet yogurt to save your organs from the chili-explosion. They have toned down the spice though over the last few years.

Samarkhand is really really good too — though expensive.

And at least once, you have to have the watery beer and the chili beef at a place like Pecos, though it’s branch in Koramangala called Elangos can get you the same experience in a cleaner place.

Oh, how did I forget, right next to Elangos, or in Indiranagar, or in MG Road you MUST go to Corner House (ice creams). Yeah sure, it doesn’t stack up to the new chains that have come up, but it’s a part of history. Great picture of Bangalore from a long time ago can be seen on their walls.

On the dosa side — you’ll have to choose your camp — do you want the Kannadiga or Tamil style dosa? If latter, Adyar Ananda Bhavan’s the way to go, if not, MTR, Adigas is the way to go.

There are these gastro-pubs which have opened up, and while they have good food but variable beer (Toit, Bierre Club), those are the places where you can see the new class of wealthy young people that are being created in Bangalore.

I’ve heard, but not confirmed, that the micro-brewerey at Punjabi By Nature near Koramangala is pretty good. So is the food.

Ok, this was supposed to be a short message. But it’s Bangalore, HELL YEAH \m/. Sample some death metal too while you are here ;-).

Oh I forgot, someone mentioned Indian-European and suggested Sunny’s — no way, that title belongs to the almost-shut chain of Casa Picola. Lol, but don’t go there. It’s time has come.

You may probably have something to do with IISc when you’re here, the coffee in their cafeteria is amazing.

Fedeshwar Oar June 26, 2013 at 6:27 am

Oh, strange recommendation, but my unlikely favourite thing to have outside is actually a Mango Smoothie in the Lavazza at the Leela Palace. It’s impossibly good — a hint of raw mango in that thing. Damn. It’s so good.

Also, as you’ve remarked in your book already, the restaurants in places like Leela are actually pretty good.

RPLong June 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

Wow, this bleg really delivered the goods. Now I want to go to Bangalore.

Andrew' June 26, 2013 at 9:07 am

I hate to be a spoil-sport, but wealth is not having to think about eating- or I guess “getting” to (over)think about eating.

Julien June 26, 2013 at 10:13 am

Samarkhand for northern indian cuisine is delicious. The indian restaurant of the Leela pallace is good but probably the only place that is too expensive.

Kinch June 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

You can do a lot better than many of the things on this list. You’ve getting a lot of people’s favorite memories, not a lot of distinctive / arch typical Bangalore food.

1). Go at 7 or 8 am to SLV in Malleshwaram. Don’t eat at the sit down place, eat across the road at the on the street stall. Drown your idlis in their amazing chutney. Ask for more. We used to demand tumblers of it, but that may not be considered reasonable anymore. Breakfast is really the greatest achievement of Kannadiga cuisine.

2). Go one evening to VB Bakery road and eat at the many dosa carts there. Some innovations in dosa ingredients there.

3). Jowar rotis at Kamath Yaathri Nivas. Its a prix fix sort of deal. Eat lots of the barley(?) rotis – don’t let them get cold.

4). I’d have to echo the going to Koshy’s for the history, Fanoos for the relating to early 90s Bangalore youth, Raggi Mudde if you can find it, and breakfasting at a different darshani every day.

5). Find a good / traditional Andhra restaurant (Nagarjuna) and if you can try the chilli chicken, then demand they rustle up some pappul pudi (http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/archives/2005/07/07/pappula-podi-spicy-roasted-chickpea-powder/) to eat with rice and a bit of oil.

6). In parts of old Bangalore, find someone frying bhajji’s on the street / in a stall.

7). Finally – go to a reasonably traditional south indian wedding and eat there.

whatsthat June 26, 2013 at 11:38 am

Do whatever you want, but don’t try getting north indian food in a south indian city.

Just don’t.

SanjayP June 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Now, the “how to think about eating” question…

Your observation about desserts and historical affluence applies. Bangalore is a great place to taste sweets. Kanti Sweets is a good spot, but there are several others. You will find many recombinations of milk/sugar or flour/sugar, all of them delicious.

Bangalore has also had a lot of immigrants. So, it is a good place to sample other cuisines. Bangalore has had a decent-sized Chinese immigrant community for decades. It is a great place to try Indo-Chinese food. I can’t think of specific restaurants, however.

Bangalore (but really anywhere in India) is a fantastic place to get a break from homogeneous fruit varietals. Try the dozen-ish types of bananas and mangoes. Mangoes, originally native to the sub-continent, are India’s greatest export, IMO.

I can’t think of a city in the US where the economics of running a restaurant are similar to that in Bangalore. Rent is almost everything. Food costs are fairly low (except for meat, perhaps), and labor is cheap.

And seriously, Indians have a very high immunity to food-based pathogens. Be extremely picky as to where and what you eat. This eliminates most uncooked foods like Chaat.

Rahul June 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Just for fun, I’ll throw in some meta observations ( not about B’lore in particular ):

1. Quality is inversely proportional to the length of the menu.

2. A place that is lunch-only, dinner-only or breakfast-only (rarely) is usually a promising sign. The gruffness / dourness of servers is often ( but not always ) correlated with the quality of traditionally good places.

3. Salads are healthy. Only outside the subcontinent. Ergo for dairy.

4. The expert Indian foodie’s first activity on encountering a new menu is to turn pages rapidly to decide which sections to skip. e.g. Mughlai in a Udipi place, Chinese in a Punjabi dhaba etc. Indian restaurants have a ongoing who’s got the most redundant menu contest. The relevant portion of most menus is about 20% of the total type-space. Skill lies in knowing what not to order. It’s a persistent mystery why dingy hole-in-walls will have potato au gratin on their menus.

5. Your default meat is Chicken / mutton. Only order fish in places that specialize in fish and preferably within smelling distance of the ocean. Cold storage logistics isn’t our forte. Beef and Pork are high variance items. You can do amazingly good or terribly bad.

6. Authenticity is often correlated to the state of undress of servers / cooks. Especially in the south. A server’s command over English is usually anti-correlated with quality. Except in the South.

7. Choose your fire-fighting fluid judiciously. Buttermilk and its variants do better than water. Order your bottled water before you order food. The exquisite agony of biting into a fiery camouflaged chilly, and then having to choose between drinking typhoid-tap-water versus death-by-spice is not fun.

Kannada June 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Never thought I did comment on this one.But if I were you I did attack it this way

1)MTR or Maiya’s (They catered to my wedding too!) for vegetarian south Karnataka meal and the closest you could get to a traditional wedding feast.

2)Kamat Yatrinivas for Vegetarian north Karnataka meals

3)Lord’s, Majestic (recently I believe the name has been changed, a little asking around can help) excellent Coorgi pork dishes.

4)Sea Rock, R.V.Road (Coastal Karnataka sea food dishes)

5)Nandini (multiple locations) for Chicken and Lamb south Karnataka style. They call themselves Andhra-style but like Chinese food in USA, the so called Andhra food is vastly localized and can be called Karnataka’s take on Andhra food. But it is awesome.

6)Empire for local Muslim style chicken-meat dishes.

7)Imperial, Residency road for Karnataka style Kababs (meats are deep fried instead of the tandoor) and biriyanis.

8)Darshinis like SLV (J.P.Nagar), Shiv Sagar (Malleshwaram), MTR (multiple locations) serve fast food Karnataka style, mostly vegetarian but worth trying. Just ask around for the local darshinis

9)Chats, nibbles and snacks (we call it ‘Tindi’ in Kannada) in V.V.Puram. Got to go there and sample the food. The best sample of local vegetarian food. It is a must do for me.

10)There are places in Shivaji Nagar where they do serve Nihari and other beef dishes, just ask around.

Tips: Eating cooked food is quite safe for most people. Chats are dicey. they have a lots of raw ingredients like chutneys etc. Look for cleaner looking places serving chats (like places that serve in disposable plates). Also never ever drink water offered at restaurants even the nice ones. (I do not!!) Carry your own bottle of water everywhere. Other than that, enjoy your stay in my home town!

Janhavi June 26, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I would second several of the above recommendations, and suggest a few new ones- Mainland China, Karavalli, Dum Pukht Jolly Nabobs
1) MTR, Woody’s is also good
2) Adiga’s is another place for excellent South Indian coffee
3) Koshy’s is a Bangalore classic
4) Corner house is another classic, a Bangalore chain of ice cream parlors, the photos of old Bangalore are great fun
5) Nagarjuna for Andhra food. As said above, the podi with rice and ghee is delicious.
6) Indian-Chinese- I would recommend Mainland China on Church Street
7) Karavalli at the Taj Gateway on Residency Road has superb South Indian seafood. Have the ulli theyal and some appams.
8) For good quality (but expensive) North Indian food in Bangalore, Samarkhand is a good option. I also recommend Dum Pukht Jolly Nabobs at the ITC Windsor manner
9) You may interested in this group that set out to find the best dosa in Bangalore: http://blog.wooplr.com/post/47766655138/wheres-the-best-dosa-in-town http://lovesexaurdosa.tumblr.com/tagged/Dosa

Ashok Rao June 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm

There’s this lovely Mangalorian place (50 Rs. for two people) with amazing food. On leaves and all. The directions are complicated, I will have to ask my grandparents about the specifics but can follow on this later, if interested. This would be my top choice, by far.

The standard suggestion is obviously MTR. Up to you to decide whether it’s worth the wait, but the Rava dosa was invented there, so… Oh and koshys too i guess.

If you like Chinese food, I find the Orchid quite good, but then again I don’t know why one would bleg for 5* locations, the nuggets are hidden away after all.

By the way, I wouldn’t be *too* worried about eating at a cheap place so long as you’re eating a) vegetarian and b) something hot. You’ll find that cheap places serving foreign dishes (pasta… chinese noodles) are far fishier than a chaii-kadai as long as it’s very heated. That said, I would still be cautious with potatoes. With Chaats I would be more worried about the knife used for cutting than food itself.

Andreas Moser June 26, 2013 at 4:41 pm

That’s a lot of food. Information overflow. With all your suggestions, one could even get fat in India.

Charles Haynes June 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I lived in Bangalore for a year three years ago so temper my suggestions. However I am an American and a foodie, so consider that as well.

First meta-principle. Since you’re in India, and specifically South India I strongly recommend sticking to south indian cuisine. Even if you’re not a vegetarian (I’m not) I would recommend eating mostly South Indian vegetarian food while you’re there for two reasons. First is that it’s an amazing cuisine, quite varied and delicious that you can find almost no where else in the world and it would be a shame to miss it at its best. Second is that conversely, non-local cuisines are not at their best. As much as I was a regular at Mainland China when I lived in Bangalore, do not go to Bangalore for chinese food. The possible exception is if you want to try Chinese-Indian cuisine for reason (“Gobi Manchurian” is a uniquely Indian dish, but not interesting enough IMO to go out of your way to try.)

Given that you’re looking for south indian food, the suggestions have been great. Definitely try idli/vada/dosa with sambar or rasam. It’s quintessentially South Indian and a lot of fun. Go to MTR for the history (http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/sets/72157594438499036), get their set lunch and coffee but (IMO) go to vidyarthi bhavan for the dosa. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/sets/72157603244017130) Don’t spend all your time eating dosas even if you’re tempted – there’s a lot more to south indian food than that. One suggestion I’d make is to try the muslim food up in Frazer Town. Walk down Mosque Rd and try whatever catches your fancy – I recommend plate shwarma and lime-mint drink. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/sets/72157603683645235)

In general I’d stay away from hotels and their buffets. The food is not very interesting, and they’re mostly popular because people are interested in “value for money.” If you happen to be staying up late, maybe drinking with friends at home, Empire and Imperial are great for delivering a greasy fry-up. Stalwarts will argue for hours about which is better, but I loved them both. If you’re brave get the brain fry. It’s delicious but very high in fat!

If you want to see some of the local innovation around food that’s a bit more western in feel I’d recommend Herbs & Spice and Grasshopper. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/sets/72157600951299751 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/sets/72157600233957905) I disagree with the warning about seafood – while India in general may have issues with logistics of cold fresh food, Bangalore specifically gets good fresh fish from the coast on a daily basis. I shopped for it in the local market and was consistently pleased by how fresh it was. On the other hand, if you can do try a local mangalorean restaurant. I liked Costaal Express – get jackfruit papads if you can. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/sets/72157603750906807)

Have fun – and be sure to try filter coffee.

Seema Rao June 27, 2013 at 4:07 am

If you every plan a trip to Mysore, Kadambam on the Bangalore-Mysore highway right after Channapatna town is a stop-over worth your time! They specialize in Iyengar cusine and their Puliyogare is the best that you can get . Authentic iyengar puliyogare, unlike the stuff you find else where. Their sakkare pongal and kanjipuram idly are other honourable mentions.

Sane Troll June 27, 2013 at 5:32 am

Ashok rao,

Which is that mangalore restaurant?Can u find out?

Reuben June 27, 2013 at 7:17 am

On the slightly upmarket end, there is the amazing Karavalli at the Gateway hotel, where the thalis are delish. The former head chef of Karavalli is responsible for some of the best Indian food in London these days. This is coastal food. Also for Kerala food, people have been raving about Ente Keralam, though I haven’t been there personally.

Jyotsna P June 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

Tyler, all true-blue Bangaloreans know that the best food is cooked at home ! I find that most restaurants pale in comparison to a terrific home-cooked meal. I live in Bangalore and would be delighted to host you for dinner . That said, my top picks for dinner out would be Rajdhani for West Indian, Karavalli for Seafood and Cafe Mozaic at The Taj on MG Road for a 4-star version of street food.

Bert M June 28, 2013 at 5:44 am

Tyler,
Live in Bangalore and run a mission-style burrito chain here (you should stop by!) You must try:

- Meghana Foods in Koramangala for biryani (try their boneless chicken – its really good).
- Adiga’s has pretty good sambar, is reliably good and has a number of outlets.
- Nandhini (multiple outlets) makes some great Andra-style chili chickens and decent biryanis.
- Republic of Noodles (inside the Lemontree Hotel in Ulsoor) for Pan-Asian food

Bangalore tradition (at least for expats) is sunday brunch – spend a bit and do the ITC/Oberoi brunch or try Blimey at MG1 on MG rd. If you get bored with Indian food and want some burritos drop by California Burrito!

Prachi July 1, 2013 at 3:45 am

hey,
Can you please share your contact details on my mail ID so that i can contact you and invite you for the press conference which is on this month.

Regards

Prachi.S
Actimedia, PR communications, Bangalore

anonymous July 16, 2013 at 5:39 am

I just returned from a four day trip to Bangalore. While there, I used the comments from this bleg along with a few other sources to eat at a bunch of places. Here are my suggestions:

1. Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) on Lal Bagh Road – for the rava idli and other wholesome Karnataka Brahmin fare.

2. Thindi Beedi at night – the food street by V.B. Bakery. At night, you can sample all kinds of dosas and other street dishes. Very cheap.

3. Hallimane – on 3rd Cross Road in Malleswara – for authentic and traditional Kannada style food. I wanted to get the ragi mudde, but they didn’t have it the day I was there. Shree Sagar aka Central Tiffins Rooms (CTR) is nearby, although I was not hungry enough to also go there. :)

4. Adyar Ananda Bhavan Sweets and Snacks on Gandhi Bazaar Road for Indian sweets. I also tried Kanti Sweets, but liked Adyar Ananda Bhavan better.

5. Mangoes. One of the commenters mentioned that it’s the tail end of the mango season. I was still able to find mangoes everywhere. They’re cheap and delicious.

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