Top eateries in Pune (That will remind you of College times!)
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A sip of cutting Chai - with a Wada Pav by the side for tea-time. Or maybe a Misal Pav for a budget lunch and a Biryani at George restaurant to splurge a little for dinner.
Trying to cram the best delicacies, within the pocket money provided, brings back fond memories of college days, doesn't it? If it's the monsoons, it gets even better! Pune is a heady mix of culture, tradition, education - a little of everything. But what makes it distinct is the food. It does not tread behind its distant cousin Mumbai, and holds its head high, when it comes to providing a crazy variety of cuisines at affordable prices. No compromise on taste whatsoever. The abundance of college 'junta' in Pune does ensure that there are eateries always on the rise to provide unique items at a bargain.However, there are some outlets close to the hearts of (almost) every collegian in Pune.
Let's embark on a fond culinary journey....
Starting with Kothrud....
Mankar Dosa Center
I'm pretty sure someone who's had an 'Amul Dosa' or even an 'Amul Uthappa' will vehemently state that it could give biggies like Vaishali and Roopali a run for their money!Tucked away in a quiet corner, anyone would easily miss Mankar Dosa Centre, unless someone stated the obvious!
A waiting period of at-least 20 minutes was to be expected every evening - yes, even on weekdays! But once you'd had one of their specialities you'd understand every minute was worth the wait!The proprietor has since then expanded to 4 more locations, but many 'Kothrudkars' returning home from an eventful day, will state, the one near Alankar Police station is the Original one!
Make sure to visit early as often ‘Mankar’ runs out of batter!
Location: Multiple locations in Kothrud
Eternally famous as the to-go location for a snack at dawn, Sweekar is still one of the most sought after places to have a simple and scrumptious plate of the humble 'Pohe' - of course with some lemon slices!The 'Sweekar Snacks Bar' opened up as early as 4 am and steadily served hot dishes which included Upma, Sheera, Wada-Sambar, Wada-Pav as well, later in the day.
A lot of customers picked up 'parcels' due to non-availability of sitting space, however this did not deter youngsters, ready to conquer the world, to step out and take an early morning break (as they’d been on a study spree in the night) before finally heading back home to take a nap!
Best paired with a cup of Chai or 'Chaha'!
Location: Opposite Bank of Maharashtra near Jog High school on Karve Road
No matter which region of India you step foot in, the 'Puchka', 'Golgappas' or in Maharashtra 'Pani-Puri' will be a forever favourite!Ganesh Bhel which started off as a small humble venture has now spread wings to multiple locations across Pune.
They've re-branded the Pani-Puri to make it very hip. Popular with students as a quick snack on the way back home.
Teamed with a Bhel (and maybe a Ragda-Pattice), dinner was complete! Cost-effective and scrumptious! SBDP - Sev Batata Dahi Puri was one of the top selling items off the menu!
Although they do not sell out, prep time usually takes longer during rush hours.Definitely a to-go place to catch up on the gossip of the day!
Location: Multiple locations in Kothrud
Again example of a humble joint that escalated into a huge business!
In the early days, the very first Cafe Durga that opened up on Paud road had students spilling over the road, fighting over parking space and waiting for hours to get a table if they wanted to eat the Anda Bhurji.If it was only the Cold Coffee or the Chocolate, then a single person was sufficient to ferry the drinks while the others waited patiently on their bikes by the side of the road!
Limited seating was never a deterrent! Coffee's from Barista and CCD were never missed! A cold coffee from Durga kept you going for a couple of hours!
Location: Multiple locations in Kothrud
Manisha Bhel, Mayur, Anand Juice Bar and Shivdeep Wada Pav in the vicinity of Kothrud also deserve a commendable mention!
Moving on to Camp......
A mid-range fancy Birthday party, a 'first-date' anniversary, end of exams celebration - George Restaurant was the to-go place.
After all how could someone celebrate without a Grilled Chicken or a Biryani?Tonnes of places serve Biryani all over town, however George has good its ground when it comes to quality and quantity!
Which is why even after so many years, students and grandparents (who were once students) still frequent the place for fond memories and of course delicious food!
Location: Near Westend Theatre, Camp
Irrespective of where your college was located, you had to step in Camp for a hip-and-happening feel!
And if shopping aka checking out the trendiest looks was the agenda for the day at Wonderland, then the session had to end with a Chutney/Cheese/Chicken Mayo sandwich at Marzorin!
The taste of the chutney has remained consistent right from the time Marz-O-Rin was a tiny place, with 4 tables available for seating.Now, the entire top floor is available to lounge and there are some seriously big Koi and Goldfish to stare at too!
The food has stayed true to budget as always!
Location: Near Wonderland, Camp
J.J. Garden Vada Pav Centre
Many weren't aware that a garden existed bang in the middle of Camp but while loitering around the city, if they passed by J.J Garden, chances were, they slowed down, due to the amazing smellwafting out, from a stall outside the garden.
Once they had a taste of the very famous Wada Pav, all the vehicles ranging from cycles to sedans waiting patiently for their turn, made sense!
The location was excellent to either catch a movie or do some window shopping, later.Once you'd devoured Wada Pav's at Garden you were sure to return!
Location: Near Dorabjee's Camp
Burger King was the place that set the foundation stone for burgers in the city!Be it Camp or the new branch that opened later in Koregaon Park, chances are you frequented this place because KFC or MacD never existed back then!
What did exist were authentic tasty burgers that were pocket-friendly and made you yearn that you had more space in your tummy!After a tiff with the original burger king of the US of A, it's now renamed to Burger, but there's definitely no shortfall in the unique flavour, be it the patty or the sauces!
Location: Burger, Next to ABC Farms, Koregaon Park; East Street, Camp
You may or may no longer be in college but Vohuman is another gem that you are sure to frequent nonetheless. A double egg cheese omelette or a Bun Maska Chai are favourites that sell like hot cakes from Kayani Bakery!
After all, the day couldn't start better could it?
If you were not a Kothrudkar and could not get to Sweekar, then this was the place to start an early day, as early as 6 am.
Being located in the vicinity if Wadia College this place was a great hit- budget wise too!
Location: Vohuman Cafe, Near Jehangir Hospital, Sassoon Road
Blue Nile and Supriya definitely deserve mentions too!
Wandering to the Peths...
Misal Pav is another combination that is close to the hearts of Punekars - as close as Wada Pav!After all what can go wrong with a hearty combination of gravy of spicy pulses, crunchy 'Farsan' and a sprinkling of onions and coriander?
And if this combo is served by a firm in the business right from 1948, it has to have secret ingredients that keep it famous!
Located within reach of Deccan this place was great if you had to step outside the zone but couldn't wander to the corners of Pune!
Location: Bedekar Tea Stall, Narayan Peth
Moving further to Sahakar Nagar..
The locality of Sahakar Nagar may not be one of the 'peths' but it sure did have some of the cultural crowd in Pune!
And if you were too bored to step out of the area because some of the other nice eateries were just 'too far', Relax was there to your rescue!
Serving the best Pav Bhaji in the locality, it was a great venue, to directly head off home first and then later wander to, for an evening snack or dinner after coaching classes!
Relax also served tasty Pulao and Pizzas as well, if Pav Bhaji was not the option for the day!
Location: Relax, Near Sarang Society, Sahakar Nagar
Returning to Deccan....
A small and simple place usually hidden because of the crowd milling outside to buy their super famous Veg patties!
This bakery is sure to take you down nostalgia lane as it's still a great option for a hot wood fired breakfast of patties!
The patty was a crunchy baked puff filled with soft potato and secret spices that struck the right chords with all the mass crowds of collegians in the area and many fond memories were made having some by the road-side!The smell of freshly baked goodies ensured items got sold super quick!
Location: Santosh Bakery, Apte Road
This eatery ensures you enjoyed your 'Bhutta' not just in the monsoons but all year round!
Be it the roasted version or many surprising and unique dishes that you never may have thought were possible with corn!
Although Corn Club was not located in the usual hang-out places it was still sought after by all who wanted something different yet pocket-friendly and wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while!
Corn Hurda, Corn Bhel, Baked Corn...and many frozen varieties that you could thaw, fry and eat were available and it was a to go place if you were too tired to cook for yourself!
Location: At the far end of Fergusson College road, University end
This list could not end without Vaishali on it! This south Indian joint, has stood the test of time and served some of the best and tastiest fare in the city. Vaishali is synonymous when it’s Udupi you’re after and being located opposite Fergusson College just makes it all the more sought after!
Vaishali, Roopali and Wadeshwar occupy more than half of F.C. Road and irrespective of the day or occasion, you were bound to head off to either one of them, when you couldn’t be bothered to think – just eat!
The Mysore Cheese Masala Dosa is sure to have left a lasting impression on the hearts of many!
Last but not the least, irrespective of what you ate; it had to be washed down with either a Mastani or a Cad B from one of the many venues in the city.
In addition to these yummy eateries there are many other as well, that dot the city and are frequented by many! But, I’m pretty sure you must have stepped into at-least one of them, till date!
Did this list take you down memory lane and make your mouth water? Share your favourites in the comments below!
PIN FOR LATER!
Disclaimer: This post first appeared in Polka Cafe and was written by me.
Here are some more suggestions for some of the best Pune Restaurants!
- Koregaon Park, Camp, Deccan, Kalyani Nagar, S.B.Road and the 'Peth' areas are some pf the places which have the largest concentration of restaurants
- A meal for 1 person at a budget restaurant usually coast about Rs.200 [That's £2 for a full meal!]
- Most of the places listed above serve authentic local fare and may not be a full-fledged restaurant. However the taste is still priceless!
- If you're planning to stay in India/Pune for longer, and you are a die-hard foodie, the Times Food Guide is a great pocket book that contains some of the best recommendations throughout the whole city! Costs about £2 and you could get a copy at any local bookstore!
- For any additional queries feel free to drop me a line on my e-mail!
I will be writing some more articles on India in the days to come, meanwhile why not check some European destinations to plan your next escapade?
Have you visited India? Which has been your favorite dish so far? :)
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