When it comes to culinary icons, few cities match the diversity of Bengaluru's restaurants — from the humble Darshini to hip pubs, the city has it all. One might attribute it to the recent development of the city but eating out has been a way of life in the city for decades now. While Bengaluru is home to an uncountable number of restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés, there are some that have stood the test of time. We bring you some of them from across categories that are a must-visit.
1. Mavalli Tiffin Room, Lal bagh
Few places in the country can match the status of Mavalli Tiffin Room, popularly known as MTR, in Bengaluru. Established in 1924 as the Brahmin Cafe, Mavalli Tiffin Room got its current form in the 1950s. For the past 70 years since it has been the torchbearer of Udupi Cuisine in the city. While the original restaurant stands close to Lalbagh Botanical Garden, the establishment has several branches across the city now. Known for its special tiffin, elaborate meals, and desserts like badam halwa, the restaurant is as popular with the city folk today as it was 70 years ago. To get a table here you must either arrive early in the morning or wait long hours — which in itself is a part of its charm.
2. Vidyarthi Bhawan, Basavanagudi
Established in 1943 to cater to the breakfast needs of school-going children, Vidyarthi Bhawan has since become the hallmark of crisp, buttery dosas in Bengaluru. The place serves a limited menu of which dosa, idli, vada and coffee are most popular. Having been the haunt of many poets, writers, politicians, it remains popular with young and old alike. So much so that social media has pages and accounts dedicated to the place. The secret to the success, say the owners, is the consistency and the handwork that is put in by every single person associated with the place.
3. Koshy’s, St. Mark Road
No conversation about Bengaluru can conclude without a mention of Koshy’s, the legendary café and restaurant that has wowed generations of Bangaloreans young and old. Established in 1940 as a bakery, it moved to its current location in 1952. At the time of its opening, there were only a handful of restaurants in the city, but now, even with thousands of places, Koshy’s retains its place on Bengaluru’s culinary map. Locals will tell you that Koshy’s two places: the Parade Café on the left and the Jewel Box on the right of St. Mark’s Road. Most locals prefer the non-AC, noisy, all-day bistro that is Parade Cafe while the jazzy Jewel Box is generally where tourists can be seen.
4. Nagarjuna, Residency Road
Started in 1984 by a humble family who wanted to bring their home food to the people of Bengaluru, Nagarjuna is one of the most prominent names in Bangalore today. The Andhra-themed restaurant was one of the first its kind which is hard to believe now that Bengaluru is flooded with Andhra style messes and restaurants. The original restaurant started on the Residency Road with just 15 items on the menu. Today it has dozens of branches across the metropolis but the menu remains more or less the same. A visit to Bangalore without a meal at Nagarjuna is close to sacrilege.
5. Shivaji Military Hotel, Jayanagar
Military Hotels have been around in Bangalore for centuries. In the current avatar, these no-fuss, basic eateries have been catering to the local and immigrants alike for decades. Established in 1930, Shivaji Military Hotel is like the many that have existed here since the 17th century to satiate the meat cravings of the Maratha army that was stationed here. Today, of course, the armies they feed are of a different kind. At Shivaji, like all other Military Hotels, the action begins early in the day and goes on until late in the evening. Along with Donne Biryani, which is almost always sold out, the most favourite thing on the menu here are mutton and chicken chops, keema and gojju.
6. Indian Coffee House, Church Street
There was a time when no evening in Bengaluru was complete without a coffee at the Indian Coffee House. The blue walls, liveried waiters and a crowd that included the intelligentsia and locals alike kept the place alive day and night so much so that finding a table was a task. Over the years the charm has waned a little, but the place is still worth a visit if you want to experience the old-world Bangalore charm. The crisp old masala dosa, old-school milky coffee, and various cutlets here will transport you to the Bangalore days of the yore.
7. Pecos, Rest House Road
In the 90s when Bengaluru earned the tag of the Pub City of India, it was Pecos that was largely responsible for this cool tag. Started in 1989 by Mr. Collin Timms, Pecos over the years attained an iconic status with its legendary music and loyal clientele. As the popularity grew and music here became more and more popular, many customers started donating rare audio cassettes and rock posters from their personal collections to Pecos’s. Today with many branches and the same legendary music, it remains one of the most popular places in Bengaluru.
8. Sunny’s, Lavelle Road
There can be no place more quintessentially Bengaluru than Sunny’s. Located in the shady lanes of the Lavelle Road, inside a sprawling bungalow, this chic diner has been Bangalore’s most popular European jaunt for close to 30 years. A place that sees many celebrities, film stars, politicians and Bangalore’s most famous people also serves some of the city's best Italian and European fare, exquisite wines and desserts that have locals eating out of their hands. An evening at Sunny’s is a must if you are in Bengaluru.
9. Ebony, MG Road
One of the pioneers of fine dining in the city, Ebony is a melting pot of culinary influences from across the country. Ebony’s menu, back in the early 1990s had the best of the Punjabi, Mughlai-Tandoori- Continental classics of the times, but what made Ebony stand apart was its offering of Parsi cuisine, inspired by the then head chef’s family recipes. Over the years many such family recipes from across India have made it into the repertoire of the restaurant's menu. Today it is known for its impeccable flavours, beautiful rooftop setting and seamless service.
10. Corner House, Residency Road
There is no one in Bangalore who wouldn't have eaten at Corner House. Started in 1982 as a café, the brand transitioned to an exclusive Ice Cream parlour in 1995. Set up in a street corner, hence the name Corner House, the shop has since expanded to scores of outlets but retains its quality and essence. The enterprise sells thousands of scoops of ice creams every day but the bestsellers remain the classics like Death by Chocolate, Hot Chocolate Fudge, and Chocolate Milkshake.