Restaurants in India

Old Feb 5th, 2007, 12:07 AM
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Restaurants in India

We will about to leave for 3 weeks in India. We will be in Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra, Kajuraho, Varanasi and Bombay. I gather that most of the posters here feel that Bukhara and the Spice Route are the 2 best restaurants in Delhi. Do you have any recommendations in the other cities? I would very much appreciate your input!
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 02:38 AM
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In Agra, Varanasi, Khajuraho, and Udaipur, I would stick to the hotels. The Lake Palace in Udaipur (Tajhotels.com) has some atmospheric ones as does the Udaivilas (oberoi.com), and the Shiv Niwas hotel in the City Palace (http://www.hrhhotels.com) has a lovely spot around their pool for lunch or dinner. (I don’t recall that the hotel as a restaurant with any views, but do check on this.) In Agra, while having dinner or lunch at one of the two restaurants in the Amarvilas is very nice, neither of the restaurants has a Taj view, so be sure to have a drink in the bar during daylight before or after, as it does have a very good Taj view. They also have dancers out by the pool most evenings starting around 8 pm. The restaurants in the Taj View hotel are good, none have a view, but they do have a nice back garden. In Khajuraho, you really don't have any choice, I think the Taj is about the only game in town. Personally, I would skip that entirely and spend more time in other places, esp the desert areas around Jaipur but whatver. I don't see Ranthambore on your itin, IMO that might be a better use of time than the long haul to Khajuraho to be shown some quite average carvings, which after you have seen the 3rd or 4th man copulating with a horse pointed out to you by a guide, you begin to feel a bit stupid....Let's put it this way, I have been to Ranthambore 3 times and Agra 4 (and counting), but only once to Khajuraho and I don't ever plan on going back.

In Jodhpur, definitely go out for a meal and a gander at the Umaid Bhawan Palace (I would not stay there). The Ajit Bhawan Palace has a nice restaurant next door to it (which they run). The Pal Haveli (http://www.palhaveli.com/restaurant.htm) has a pretty good restaurant with an excellent view of the city and fort, hit it at dusk and you can see both day and night views (like the old Windows on the World in the WTC, the view surpasses the food, but it is not expensive food...)

In Mumbai, any restaurant in the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel (which is worth seeing in itself, esp walk around the historic wing, go to http://www.tajhotels.com), or the Oberoi which has some lovely views and it a nice drive to take to or from the hotel up the long sweep of Marine Drive. (go to http://www.oberoihotels.com). Both have very good Indian and continental restaurants, the Taj has an excellent Japanese/sushi restaurant and an Asian spices restaurant.

Some independent restaurants to try:

Indigo
4 Mandik Road
Colaba Mumbai
Tel 22-6636-8980
e-mail: [email protected]

Very good food, mostly continental with some India mixed in. Nice atmosphere, try to get a table upstairs on the terrace. Lots of the beautiful people here. This is behind the Taj Mahal hotel. There are some interesting streets around here to just walk around.

Indigo delicatessen
5 Ground Floor
Pheroze Bldg
Ground Floor
Chatrapati Shivaji Mahrishi Ma
Apollo Bunder
Tel: 22- 6655-1010

This is their more casual delicatessen, also very good food. It bills itself as a New York deli and kind of fulfills that (also peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the menu…) In some ways I like it better, it is a bit more lively and has less attitude. But the main restaurant has sort of the “beautiful people” of Mumbai lunching so you can observe them in their natural habitat…This restaurant is also near the Taj Mahal hotel and the Gateway of India.

Mahesh
Next door to JW Marriott
Juhu Tara Road
Tel: 5695-5554
I have been told by Indian colleagues that this is considered the best south Indian seafood restaurant in Mumbai. It is very good, crab is their specialty. They have a little outdoor eating area on the street and then a bigger indoor air conditioned space. It is right next door to the JW Marriott in the Juhu Beach area, the Malibu of Mumbai; however if you are staying in the Marine Drive area, it will take you over an hour or more to get here with traffic (and could take more), so I would not recommend going here unless you are in the area anyway.
Olive
4 Union Park Khar
Bandra
Tel: 22 600 8248

Italian/Mediterranean. This is in Bandra which is north of the main area of Mumbai, and is also a Bollywood area, and an area of art galleries and artists studios, interesting shops and restaurants and some churches as it was originally a Portuguese settlement, and is a fun place to wander around. However, as with Juhu, this area can take 1-2 hours to reach by car, so you have to be willing and able to commit to time to get there and back.

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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 02:41 AM
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Sorry, somehow Delhi got left out of my post:

Dumpukth
ITC Hotel Maurya Sheraton Hotel & Towers
Diplomatic Enclave , Sadar Patel Marg
New Delhi
Phone (91) (11) 2611 2233
Fax (91) (11) 2611 3333
Starwood.com

This is a different dining experience than Bukhara. The food is from the Oudh area around Lucknow, and is much more light and delicate than the Indian food you may be used to. It is slow cooked by steam over several hours in sealed pots. The restaurant is more formal than Bukhara.

Olive
6-8, Qutub Haveli
Sarai Kalkadass Marg
New Delhi, 110030
Phone: +91 11 2664 2552

Italian/Med food with a nice ambience in an old courtyard house with a garden. This is the Delhi branch of the original Mumbai restaurant. Lots of trendy Delhi types. Would be nice for lunch as well. This is near the Qutab Minar.

Top of the Village
Bistro, 12, Hauz Khas Village,
New Delhi
Tel : 26853857, 26522227

Good biryanis, and other Indian food. Has outdoor covered terraces with great views over Deer Park. Coal braziers in winter lend charm. Often has Indian musicians or dancers in the evening. Hauz Khas is kind of the Greenwich Village of New Delhi, lots of trendy little boutiques, and a rustic feel, as it is out of the main tourist and shopping areas. Near the Qutab Minar, so could be good place for lunch or dinner before or after a visit to the Qutab Minar.

Haveli Restaurant
Taj Mahal Hotel
1 Mansingh Rd.
Delhi
Phone: 11/302-6162
Fax: (91-11) 23026070
tajhotels.com

Very good, has a nice ambience, and usually has live sitar music.

Basil and Thyme
Santushti Shopping Complex
New Wellingdon Camp, Delhi
Phone: 11/467-3322

This is a great place for lunch if you are shopping here, not sure I would drive all the way there for dinner. Eclectic menu that is a mix of West and East, with some novelle cuisine as well. Fresh and tasty. The shopping area is a series of small cottages surrounded by lawns. Extremely pleasant as it is enclosed and no beggars or hawkers are allowed. Very good handicrafts shops and some great fabric stores. Shops are a bit more expensive than other shopping areas.

Finally, the Oberoi has a very good Indian restaurant, a good Chinese restaurant (on the top floor with a good view) and a good Thai restaurant as well. The Hyatt has several good western restaurants as well, including an Italian and a coffee-shop type restaurant. Any would be good if you are looking for non-Indian.

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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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In Delhi I have eaten at the Thai in the Oberoi thai place. I think its called the spice route. I thought it was just ok and not really the best meal I had. The Italian in the Sheraton (La Piazza) is actually quite good and nice if you need a break from spicy food. The lasagna my colleagues ate they thought was excellent. Pizza is good as well. The bar on the opposite side is a nice pub style bar and lively.

I still have not tried the Bukhara. If you can get a table go. I have never heard anyone say they had a bad meal here and its looks fantastic when we visited and could not get in. Book well in Advance.

In Mumbai - Well my only experience was at the Taj. The cafe was just ok. Some dishes were better than thers but mostly western food and nice quiche and a pal had waffles. We were so hungry when we arrived I would have eaten the table! Food in the Harbor Bar was not great. Everything I ate (this is at the end of 2 weeks in India) had serious chilli or heat in it and I got a massive dose of heartburn just before heading to the airport. There is an Indian or lebanese restaurant upstairs they some friends ate in and said it was fantastic. I think it has a view. The whole place is just wonderful and the service is so friendly.
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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bukhara was a good experience....however you sit on small stools and the tables are quite close together which makes it sort of uncomfortable....one note....the same menu is offered at both the sheraton in jaipur and in agra for a substantially lower price than in the delhi restaurant (30-40% less)....the agra/jaipur restaurants are not called bukhara however...
btw, we thought the food was good but not fantastic....and it was very expensive comparatively...

we enjoyed our dinner at the aman in agra....we had a special thali dinner---one vegetarian and one meat version..

dinner at spice route in delhi at the imperial is fantastic as is the experience at this hotel...

in jaipur we ate one nite at suvarna mahal rest. in the rambagh palace which was a fantastic experience...

another nite in jaipur we ate at the small cinnamon rest. in the jai mahal hotel which was also a wonderful experience...

we ate at spice court rest. in jaipur one nite and were disappointed...wish we had eaten at indiana rest. instead as many fodorites suggested...it was a toss of the coin by our doorman as to where we would go and spice won out...disappointment...

our last nite in delhi we returned to the sheraton and ate at dum pukht....we were very disappointed with both the service and the food...

just a note....based on all our research and the posts here on fodors, we decided to stick mostly to hotel restuarants on this first trip to india....our driver did take us to a couple of places that were independant restaurants and we made out very well there, but i would be extremely careful...

several chefs welcomed us into their kitchens and this is a treat as the indian kitchen is quite different from the western kitchen....go if you get the chance...

we had a delicious lunch at samode palace while in jaipur....the palace is very interesting as a stop in itself...

we also stayed at the neemrana fort palace hotel one nite and it is fantastic and not that far from delhi...the dinner there was outstanding and in a wonderful setting...
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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cicc---by the way , on your recom. we tried to go to top of the village in delhi for lunch one day and it had been "sealed" as part of the governments' crack down on illegal shops.....???
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 11:43 AM
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There is a nice little restaurant on the main street of Varansi about one or two blocks north of Assi Ghat called Basket of Life (or was it Bread of Life??). Very tasty food, including an Indian take on nachos.
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 12:27 PM
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Hope Mediatorr doesn't mind if I ask a question about restaurants in India. I'll be going in 3 weeks myself. Do you need to make reservations before hand at all these restaurants? Especially the hotel restaurants, where one might be a guest? I hate to plan out our meals so far in advance...would prefer to have some spontaneity. However, I don't want to miss out on eating at these places. By the way, we'll be staying at Rajvilas and Udaivilas for 2 nights each. Will not be in Delhi at all other than to fly in/out. Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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i made reservations at all the hotel restaurants....some were busy some were not....better to do it....one day ahead will work for most of them....i made my res at bukhara via telephone from the usa....when we arrived they had no reservation for me...they squeezed us in however...it was very busy, including a usa VIP who had 5 security people looking out for him...
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 10:22 PM
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Thank you, thank you, all. Fabulous replies. I'm taking them all with me. Actually, Cicerone, we are going to Rantanbore but I figured there were no restaurant choices there. I know it's not possible to be sure of seeing a tiger but I'm holding a good thought anyway. We are also going to the Cattle Festival in Nagaur which should be a paricularly interesting and colorful experience. I understand that it is a less touristy even than the one in Pushkar. We will be staying at the Udaivilas in Udaipur and the Amarvilas in Agra so I'm counting on having a Taj view from our room. Guess I'll have to check out the view from the bar as well. I hadn't heard about the dancers by the pool before. Is it necessary to make reservations for that? We will be in Jaipur for 3 nights but that will include the Elephant Festival and Holi so it may not really be much time to see Jaipur. If anyone has any suggestions about how to best enjoy Holi, they would also be greatly appreciated.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 02:21 AM
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If you are staying at Amarvilas, get a room with a balcony. You can watch the dancers from there with the Taj in the background. You can see them even closer at the pool where reservations are not required.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 03:30 AM
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To “enjoy” Holi IMO you should (1) wear old clothes the whole day that you don’t care if you ever see again (a second set of old clothes is helpful if you go out again after one soaking), (2) have a very good attitude about being a target for water bombs and buckets filled with colored water as locals will want to make sure you get into the “spirit” of things, (3) get a supply of your own water bombs to retaliate with, (4) keep a very open and humorous attitude about how wet and ruined your clothes will be (follows on advice #1). You may be left alone or you may get quite a soaking, it will depend on where you are and how well you accept the treatment. Your hotel may know about temple festivals which you can observe as well. There are sometimes night markets leading up to the holiday too.

10 places in 3 weeks in India, that’s a lot to fit in.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 08:59 PM
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As a former Bombayite (with enough vintage to resist the term Mumbaiker), let me suggest a couple of places that are not cocooned in 5-star surroundings.

No list of the best restaurant food in India is complete without mention of Trishna, the (mainly seafood) restaurant in south Bombay. It's got formica tables and has no pretensions to class, but the food is amazing. And don't take my word for it - the late New York Times food writer R.W.Apple Jr had it on his list of "10 restaurants in the world that are worth getting on a plane for" and several foodies have it listed as one of the best seafood restaurants in the world.

Here's a review from Frommer's: Another restaurant frequented by the who's who of Mumbai, Trishna, presided over by owner Ravi Anchan, is a seafood legend in Mumbai and is considered one of the best in the world. Butter pepper garlic king crab is Trishna's signature dish, but you'll also find jumbo pomfrets and tiger prawns (done in any style) cooked to perfection. Despite its reputation as a somewhat snobbish restaurant, Trishna isn't about ambience (the decor in fact is somewhat tacky and, yes, staff do have a reputation for snootiness) -- everyone is here for the food. Recommended dishes include pomfret Hyderabadi -- barbecued with black pepper, it's a true masterpiece; pomfret hariyali enveloped in green masala and baked in a tandoor; fish sholay kebab; Kolhapuri prawns (spicy, so order a drink); or squid expertly prepared with butter, pepper, and garlic. Don't expect to get in any night without a reservation, unless you're willing to arrive by 7pm and be out by 8pm.

And my addition: don't miss the Hyderabadi dal.

Other info from NYT website: Phone 022/2270-3213; 022/2270-3214; Main courses Rs 140-Rs 780 ($3.40-$18) depending on fish size; crab/lobster Rs 500-Rs 1,050 ($11-$24)

It's a bit tricky to get to; check with your hotel desk on directions. It's near the Taj Mahal hotel - in local terms, it's closer to Kala Ghoda or the record shop Rhythm House.

A similar Malabar coast seafood place mentioned earlier is Mahesh Lunch Home - but I agree that there's no way you should travel to the Juhu location if you're staying in south Bombay - particularly since their original location is right in south Bombay near Flora Fountain. It's a good alternative if you can't get into Trishna.

Both of these restaurants feature food from the Malabar coast (west coast of India). In my opinion, the food from this general area (Konkani home-cooked food in particular) is by far the best in India and certainly my favorite of any cuisine in the world (and no, I'm not from that area). Unfortunately many westerners believe that Punjabi food (while very good) is somehow the representative food of India, based on the ubiquity of Punjabi restaurants in the west. So if you're in south Bombay, don't miss the opportunity to try one of these Malabari restaurants.

And on the other end of the scale from 5-star hotels: there's fantastic food (evenings only) from a kebab cart called Bade Miya on Tulloch Street right behind the Taj Mahal hotel. It's street food so if you're daring you may want to try it after your stomach has had time to adjust to India (or just stick to the grilled stuff) - but it's also a great scene especially late at night: practically the whole street gets taken over.

Have fun!
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 04:23 PM
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Just got back from Bombay a couple of weeks ago and by far the best meal I had was at Trishna. I had wanted to go there because of Johnny Apple's column but it turned out that our friends who live in Bombay said it was one of their favorites! Go - you won't be sorry!
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 12:22 AM
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I am going to Mumbai on Sunday for a few days, do you have an address for Trishna? It is in Colaba or is it closer to Nariman Point area?
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 05:02 AM
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Trishna's address is 7 Ropewalk Lane - but I'm not sure how many cabbies or locals would know Ropewalk Lane. It's a small lane in the area between Regal Cinema (beginning of Colaba) and Flora Fountain. Ask for Rhythm House - a well-known music store - near Kala Ghoda, and someone in the area will hopefully point you to Trishna.

btw there's also an evocative synagogue very near Trishna - a large corner building (as a recall, the Star of David is quite prominent on the outside). It's a great window into the long Jewish history in India dating almost 2000 years (including a Jewish "kingdom" in Kerala!). The synagogue is not that old in Indian terms, but is very well worth a visit.
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 10:42 PM
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Has any one here tried the Leopold Cafe in Colaba,Mumbai.
The Colaba Causway,a little over a hundred years ago,was quite content to be underwater.Until, much against its will, was dragged out, tarted up, and forced to be host to every pimp, hustler and bootlegger this side of Bangkok.
A lot has changed since.
Lovely & quaint,Leopold Café: From Hippie to Hip,its been through it all. A large airy hall, with a high ceiling, opening flat out onto the Causeway, this is the Mecca of weary travellers. A place to meet, to swap stories.
The Flower Children of the 60s, who could not manage to make do with love and fresh air alone and whose appetite for food often overtook their hunger for nirvana, planted Leopold firmly on the lower-budget tourist map. With the wilting away of these Flowers, back to boring, normal lives in some Godforsaken suburbia, only the dregs remained at Leopold. Just when this slide into sleaze seemed irreversible, and the place looked set to become a strip joint, the change began. Slowly but surely, lower budget tourists started creeping in. Seeing this, Bombay's own chatterati and arts crowd slid a jhola ( a sling bag) and a Kolhapuri chappal in, and soon Leopold was seen as a cool place to lounge around. Fortunately, the management had the good sense to chivvy up their act at the same time, and suddenly Leopold was thriving. Its never looked back since.

The food on offer covers a wide range of cuisines, bound together by the qualification that it must be palatable to spice weary tourists. This makes for strictly non-spicy food. Breakfasts are fun at Leopold, generously served with the option of large glasses of fresh fruit juices. Lunch and dinner fare include a mixture of Chinese, Iranian, tandoori, Parsi and continental dishes. Something for everyone.Leos is great for chili beef and Corona beer on a hot afternoon as you sit watching the world go by.
This is where it is:
Leopold Cafe Colaba Causeway. Email: [email protected] Ph 22873362/ 22828185 Fax: 22852037


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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 01:41 AM
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Thank you, again. Is it necessary or even a good idea to make reservations at Trishna? Never having been to Mumbai (and therefore not having the vintage to call it Bombay although I'd like to),I have no idea of relative geography or timing (except that I gather that traffic can be a problem as it is here, Los Angeles). Is Trishna convenient to get to from the Taj Mahal Hotel?
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 03:17 AM
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I strongly reco a reservation at Trishna - no matter what night of the week it is. From the Taj it is only 10-15 minsand traffic between the 2 should never be a big problem. BTW, Trishna is also open for lunch but expect to hsve to take forty winks after the yummy butter, pepper, garlic crab and dal hyderabadi. Also, dress down - crabs are served whole in the shell with pincers and even with the apron provided it can be messy biz - though hugely rewarding!
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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My understanding is that Trishna does not take reservations. But we got there early, around 7:30 or 8pm and there were plenty of tables open. It is quite packed later on.
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