Where to Eat in Bengaluru (Bangalore)
Known for its tech firms, this cosmopolitan city with a terrific climate boasts a buzzing restaurant scene. While Covid shuttered many independent fine-dining restaurants, delicious food, both Indian and global, abounds. Here are Bangalore’s favourites – some modest but iconic restaurants, and some that fit the fine-dining category.
Surrounded by 37 acres of farmland, this serene jewel-box of a restaurant seats 16 and is helmed by three chefs, each of whom staged at Michelin-starred restaurants in Malaysia, Denmark and Sweden. There is no menu. Instead, what is available on the farm largely dictates what’s on the five-course lunch and ten-course dinner degustation menus. Painstakingly sourced native ingredients – Hallikar cow milk, Bannur lamb, Mangalore prawns, moringa greens, Teja chilies, and Sanikatta salt – make their entrances and exits in the choreographed service. Call in advance about wine choices.
Since 1990, chef Naren Thimmaiah has been serving delicately spiced coastal Indian cuisine to grandmothers and brides, lovers and colleagues. Bangaloreans love his rooted, authentic food– tiger prawns roast, peppery crabs, chicken in a coconut milk stew, as well as unusual and robust vegetables, greens and yams sourced from hamlets by the Arabian Sea. No experiments, no fusion. Just old family recipes, consistently prepared. The restaurant’s opening chef, Sriram Aylur, is now at Quilon, London, and you can still taste Karavalli’s coastal flavours there.
Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR)
Mavalli Tiffin Room ©facebook
Open since 1924, this unfussy modest restaurant opened its first branch in London this February – to much fanfare from homesick South Indians. During World War II, when rice was in shortage, MTR invented the rava idli – a steamed dumpling made with semolina and garnished with roasted cashews. It remains a signature offering, along with the crisp dosa-crepes, and thali (set) lunches. For many, MTR is a daily habit: a walk in nearby Lalbagh (Red Gardens) followed by coffee and vada here. Go for breakfast.
This new restaurant – which means star in Urdu – pays homage to slow-cooked Nawabi food that borrowed from Greece, Persia and Arabia. Braised and marinated lamb, melting meats, tandoori chicken, slow-cooked dals and copper-pot biriyanis are the stars. Chef Farman Ali, 70, the grand old man of Indian cuisine, was lured back from retirement to helm the kitchen and share his secrets. Bangalore-based Grover Vineyards created a custom Falak-blend to go with the white-glove service. Falak wants to be the best Indian restaurant in the continent.
Most Bangaloreans enter ARAKU Cafe for its cafe l’orange and its ethically sourced beans grown by tribal farmers in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. They stay for chef Rahul Sharma’s food. Sharma staged at Noma twice. Now, he creates stylish small plates to match the minimal white space. The excellent produce and dairy come from a local organic farm. The menu roams the world and includes gluten-free and vegan options including masa pancakes, udon noodles, piquant salads and excellent breads.
Kebabs & Kurries
Within India, ITC restaurants are known for their great food. This restaurant in the brand’s flagship LEED zero-carbon certified Bangalore property serves terrific North Indian cuisine. Some recipes are taken from their popular Bukhara and Dum Pukht restaurants: the Bukhara dal simmered overnight is a must. As are the minced lamb kebabs, the smoked chicken and the marinated jumbo prawns. While the brand highlights its sustainably sourced food, what keeps diners returning is the taste, which hits the Indian palate spot-on.
Far & East
Beautifully served dim sum and sushi in a sumptuous setting make this a favourite 'date night' restaurant. Chef Atsushi Yonaha, a licensed fugu chef, sends out high-quality sashimi and nigiri with a playful touch. Chef Sean Wong mixes his Malaysian roots with his global sensibility in the wok-fried noodles, Peking duck and dim sums. Service is impeccable. Even those without a sweet tooth will love the desserts, particularly the chocolate pear and yuzu cheesecake. Begin the meal with gin cocktails at Copitas next door.
Chef Tam stays in the background, but her fresh aromatic food sings. Grilled pork rib, thick tom yam soup, and possibly the city’s best som tam or green papaya salad from the chef’s native Isan province in Thailand, are some top choices. Groups opt for shared platters that represent Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Pattaya. The alfresco setting surrounded by leafy trees brought diners to this central Bangalore spot, Covid notwithstanding. Marking 'immunity boosting' dishes on the menu is a savvy touch. The famed Oberoi service doesn’t hurt either.
Since it opened 7 years ago, this restaurant consistently gets the highest ratings in crowd-sourced Zomato (India’s Yelp). Once you taste the mustard salmon tikka, and the grilled kebabs, you understand why. With a panoramic view of Bangalore, Ssaffron, despite its unfortunate spelling, exudes warmth and bonhomie. Most diners end up at Hype, the buzzing bar next door, pre- or post-dinner.
Microbreweries abound in Bangalore. This one was among the earliest to have live music. Comfort food – burgers, pork ribs, interesting salads and grilled meats – are served in a communal setting. The beers change: a recent hit was their Chai Brown Ale. Starting February – much to the delight of rock-music fans, who drive across town to listen – live bands began performing here again.