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The 50 best restaurants in the metros

March 19, 2009
When we set out to list the 50 best restaurants in the country, our mandate was clear—eat as much as you humanly can, and be objective. But fifty restaurants? Please. We enlisted some help—probably the most qualified voices on the restaurant scene in India. A panel of dedicated foodies and restaurateurs. Listing their favourites and making recommendations are Marut Sikka, food consultant and owner of Magique; Anjan Chatterjee, who owns the Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta chains of restaurants; Ritu Dalmia, the owner and chef of Diva; Rahul Akerkar, Mr Indigo, now on the verge of his next project Tote, which we feature in our Appetite section; A.D. Singh, flamboyant restaurateur; Ajit Saldanha, a noted food critic; and not least, Jiggs Kalra, the owner of Punjab Grill.

Till the turn of the decade, the Indian palate had been quite conservative, barely venturing beyond Chinese. This past decade has seen an explosion of choices, and our list reflects just that. So from massive fine dining restaurants to humble holes in the wall, you will find them all here. Bon appetit!


1. Bukhara at ITC Maurya
Creating wonderful NWFP cuisine for over thirty years, Bukhara is everybody’s favourite all the world over.
Cuisine: NWFP Cuisine (North West Frontier Province)
Contact: (91) (011) 2611 4444
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 3,000 plus taxes
Rahul Akerkar: Nothing else comes close and it has set the standards for every other restaurant serving Indian cuisine.

2. Varq at Taj Mahal Hotel
Grand Master Chef Hemant Oberoi’s baby, the 80-cover Varq is a combination of sophisticated dining, discreet service and exquisite interiors. Chef Hemant Oberoi reinvents Indian food with unusual creations and pairings, thus creating an exclusive gourmet dining experience.
Cuisine: Indian
Contact: (91) (011) 23026162
Meal For Two: Rs 5,000 for a three-course meal
Marut Sikka: The food is as good as it gets, the décor is impressive, though a tad Western, and the service is fantastic.

3. China Kitchen at Hyatt Regency
Hyatt Regency’s China Kitchen is famous for dishing out a range of Chinese delectables like Peking Duck and Beggar’s Chicken.
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (011) 66771334
Meal For Two: Rs 2,500
Jiggs Kalra: The open kitchen is not only a joy to behold, but it is worth dining at this eatery just for the Peking Duck.

4. Sakura at The Metropolitan
Among the most expensive restaurants in town, Sakura at The Metropolitan, remains unrivalled for its authentic, expertly executed Japanese fare.
Cuisine: Japanese
Contact: (91) (011) 42500200
Meal For Two: Rs 5,000
Marut Sikka: There’s only one word for it. Outstanding. Has to be one of the more consistent food places.

La Piazza
5. La Piazza at Hyatt Regency
La Piazza, the in-house Italian specialty restaurant at Hyatt Regency is a well loved haunt for many. The award-winning restaurant offers a selection of ovenfresh pizzas, al dente pastas and fine wines.
Cuisine: Italian
Contact: (91) (011) 26791234
Meal For Two: Rs 3,500
Jiggs Kalra: La Pizza boasts a fine Italian wine collection and is the only restaurant in India that has a food to wine ratio 1:1, which is quite spectacular.

6. Dum Pukht at ITC Maurya
Winner of Asia’s first “Golden Fork Award”, Dum Pukht recreates the legacy of the nawabs of Awadh through its suble cuisine.
Cuisine: North Indian (Awadhi)
Contact: (91) (011) 26112233
Meal For Two: Rs 3,500
Jiggs Kalra: I like the nawabi (princely) culture from which it is drawn, the food and the ambience at Dum Pukht are subtle and refined.

7. The Spice Route at The Imperial
Named as one of the top ten restaurants in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, The Spice Route offers the cuisine of the countries on the fabled spice route.
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
Contact: (91) (011) 23341234
Meal For Two: Rs 2,500
Jiggs Kalra: Serves very authentic Thai food, comes very close to eating in Bangkok.

8. Smokehouse Grill
The capital cousin of Mumbai’s Salt Water Grill, Smokehouse Grill is famous for its fruity woodsmoked grills, superb cocktails and thumping Punjabi soundtrack.
Cuisine: European
Contact: (91) (011) 41435530
Meal For Two: Rs 4,000
Marut Sikka: Serves fantastic European food. Love the energy and the music, too.

9. Nanking
Nanking, the region, lies in central China and the Delhi restaurant lives up to its name by serving the best of all four Chinese provinces.
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (011) 26138936
Meal For Two: Rs 2,000
Marut Sikka : Great tasting Chinese and the pricing’s just right. Nanking has been fairly consistent from the start. The only problem is the limited menu, but the chefs here are more than willing to accommodate special requests.

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Cuisine: Japanese
Contact: (011) 40654567
Meal For Two: Approx. Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Cuisine: Asian and European
Contact: (91) (011) 29536767
Meal For Two: Approx. Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Mainland China
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (011) 29222123
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Cuisine: Mediterranean, Lebanese
Contact: (91) (011) 41632282
Meal For Two: Approx. Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Cuisine: Italian
Contact: (91) (011) 29215673
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes.

United Coffee House
Cuisine: Multi cuisine
Contact: (91) (011) 23322075
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,000 plus taxes. Mumbai

On every food critic’s A-list, Indigo has been listed by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the 60 best restaurants in the world.
Cuisine: Continental European, Mediterranean and Fusion.
Contact: (91) (022) 2633 6262
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,200 plus taxes
Marut Sikka: Indigo, Mumbai—A mix of Mediterranean, European, even Indian, this one’s a masterpiece. I haven’t met Akerkar and I am already a fan.

Henry Tham
Dining at this exclusive eatery makes you feel special.
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (022) 22023186
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,900 plus taxes
Marut Sikka: Nice food generally, but Henry Tham’s coursewise meal is one of the best I’ve had so far.

Thai Pavilion at Taj President
India’s first and best loved Thai cuisine restaurant.
Cuisine: Thai
Contact: (91) (022) 66650808
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 4,200 plus taxes
A.D Singh: Great décor and consistently good food.

Peshawari at ITC Grand Maratha
Redolent with the rugged flavours of the North West Frontier, the restaurant offers delicious food.
Cuisine: NWFP
Contact: (91) (022) 28303030
Meal For Two: Approx. Rs 4,000 plus taxes
Rahul Akerkar: They have a philosophy, which I believe in—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Their quality and service has always been great. It is simple food but done very well.

Shree Thakkar Bhojnalaya
The delicious, authentic (unlimited) Gujarati Thali is guaranteed to leave you begging for more.
Cuisine: Western Indian
Contact: (91) (022) 22011232
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 250
Rahul Akerkar: They have the world’s best Gujarati thali. It is great food and excellent value for money.

Known for its coastal cuisine, personalised service, Gajalee has been Mumbai’s favourite seafood restaurant for almost two decades.
Cuisine: Seafood
Contact: (91) (022) 66929592, 26114093, 26166470
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,100 plus taxes
Anjan Chatterjee: The food tastes great and it’s all because of their fresh seafood.

Lings Pavilion
Authentic in its Chinese offerings, Ling’s Pavilion is known for its large portions, and value for money.
Cuisine: Chinese
Contact: (91) (022) 22850023,
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 900 plus taxes
Rahul Akerkar: Offers excellent Chinese food. The food is clean and very well cooked—not soaking in oil, but full of flavour.

Consistent quality and value for money keeps Saayba in the favourite restaurants’ list.
Cuisine: Konkan
Contact: (91) (022) 26436620
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 600 plus taxes
A.D. Singh: Mumbai has a tradition of cheap, tacky but delicious Gomantak restaurants across the city, one of them being Saayba for some great Gomantak food.

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Olive Beach
Cuisine: Bar, Multi-cuisine
Contact: (91) (022) 26058228
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes

San Qi at Four Seasons
Cuisine: Bar, Multi-cuisine
Contact: (91) (022) 24818000
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Cuisine: Mediterranean
Contact: (91) (022) 22161226
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000

Cuisine: Japanese
Contact: (91) (022) 22876578
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Blue Frog
Cuisine: Bar, multi-cuisine
Contact: (91) (022) 40332333
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes Babgalore

Karaveli at Taj Gateway

Karaveli at the Gateway hotel is a great place to sample coastal and Mangalorean cuisine.
Cuisine: Coastal
Contact: (91) (080) 56604545
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes
Anjan Chatterjee: I simply love the seafood preparations at Karaveli.
A.D. Singh: I rarely go out to eat Indian. Probably my favourite would be Karaveli at the Taj Gateway, Bangalore. Different flavours. Simply delicious.

Mavalli Tiffin Room
Better known by its brandname MTR, the restaurant at Lal Bagh Road in Bangalore serves the best South Indian food.
Cuisine: South Indian
Contact: (91) (080) 22220022
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 150
Jiggs Kalra: MTR in Bangalore is excellent for its superlative Brahmin Udupi cuisine.

Asia in a Box
Although it serves all kinds of Asian cuisine, it is best known for its Thai menu.
Cuisine: Asian cuisine
Contact: (91) (080) 25493344
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 800 plus taxes
Ajit Saldanha: Their Chef Gautam Kutty works wonders with duck and air-dried beef. The food is best enjoyed straight from the wok.

Olive Bar and Kitchen
Entrepreneur A.D. Singh’s baby is a hit all over the country.
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Contact: (91) (080) 41128400
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,500 plus taxes
Ritu Dalmia: Olive Bar has a young chef called Manu whose enthusiasm and excitement about food is rather infectious.

An old, well known haunt on Lavelle Road, the décor and quality of dishes win out.
Cuisine: Classics food with contemporary styling.
Contact: (91) (080) 41571292
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,000 plus taxes
Ajit Saldanha: Chef Paolo Nonino’s style is characterised by imagination and flair. His experience gives him the panache to pull off unusual pairings like Angel Hair Pasta with Sauteed Squid and Crab Omelette.

Blue Ginger at The Taj West End
The first Vietnamese restaurant in the country, it is also the best by far.
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Contact: (91) (080) 6605660
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 3,500 plus taxes
Ritu Dalmia: Supposedly Vietnamese, Blue Ginger is actually a pan Asian restaurant. The food is great and the ambience is fabulous.

Mugen offers Asian cuisine, specifically Thai, Malaysian and Chinese.
Cuisine: Pan-Asian
Contact: (91) (080) 41481414
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes
Ajit Saldanha: I love the Thai and Oriental food at Mugen. They serve a terrific value-for-money lunchtime buffet for Rs 325.

Although this restaurant in a quiet part of Bangalore calls its cuisine experimental, the food is actually continental, and very good at that. Reservations are a must here as the restaurant does not cater to walk-in patrons.
Cuisine: Experimental
Contact: (91) 9845452646 (booking in advance manadatory)
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 3,000 plus taxes
Marut Sikka: Their custom designed menu makes this place very special.
Ajit Saldanha: Serenely occupying the other end of the “ready meals” spectrum is this haven of tranquility on the Bannerghatta road, where the moody Himanshu Dimri serves food that defies classification.

Koshys Bar & Restaurant
A colonial era restaurant and an old favourite of Bangaloreans, you can pick your cuisines, all of which are excellent. And it’s cheap.
Cuisine: Multi-cuisine
Contact: (91) (080) 22213793
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 500 plus taxes
Anjan Chatterjee: the restaurant still hasn’t lost its charm. Their continental fare is outstanding.

Situated in Ulsoor,
Nachiyar’s the place to go
to if you want tasty, spicy,
Chettinad and Malabar food.
Cuisine: Malabar cuisine
Contact: (91) (080) 41738588
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 300 plus taxes
Ajit Saldanha:. They serve up authentic Chettinad dishes like Mutton Varuval, Idiappam and Paya, Crab Curry and Rabbit Roast.

i-t. ALIA at The Park
Centrally located on MG Road, you can be assured of good food and great ambience at i-t.ALIA.
Cuisine: Italian cuisine
Contact: (91) (080) 25594666
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 3,000 plus taxes
Ajit Saldanha: Chef Mandar at i-t.ALIA, The Park, is brilliant when it comes to regional Italian flavours and signature dishes from Tuscany.

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Cuisine: Royal Indian
Contact: (91) (080) 41114499
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,500 plus taxes Kolkata

1. Kewpies
A small, unassuming family-run restaurant, Kolkatans can’t get enough of Kewpies and its traditional Bengali fare.
Cuisine: Bengali
Contact: (91) (033) 2475 9880
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,000
Ritu Dalmia: Their loochis and posto aloo are to die for.
Marut Sikka: Serves arguably the best Bengali fare in Kolkata.

2. Mitra Café
Over the decades, this twoand-a-half room eatery has catered to the oldest of North Kolkata residents.
Cuisine: Bengali
Contact: (91) 9830342665
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 800
Marut Sikka: One of the few places that still serves the almost extinct Kobiraji Cutlet.

3.Shiraz Golden Restaurant
If you love the Lucknowi Biryani and crave for all things Mughlai, try Shiraz.
Cuisine: North Indian, Mughlai
Contact: (91) (033) 22805006
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 500
Jiggs Kalra: It has a strange but an exceptional biryani. The fact that Sheraz makes a daily biryani sale to the tune of Rs 1 lakh, speaks volumes of the product.

4. Suruchi
Located near the Mallik Bazaar bus stop at Elliot Road in Kolkata, Suruchi is an authentic Bengali restaurant famous for its traditional Bengali cuisine.
Cuisine: Bengali
Contact: (91) (033) 22291763
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 500
Anjan Chatterjee: I simply love their homely setting and traditional Bengali fare.

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Blue Potato
Cuisine: Western
Contact: (91) (033) 32597833
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000 plus taxes

Cuisine: Continental
Contact: (91) (033) 22172934
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 1,000

Banana Leaf
Cuisine: Udipi
Contact: (91) (033) 22371527
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 800

Peter Cat
Cuisine: Multi-cuisine
Contact: (91) (033) 22298841
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 2,000

Hot Kati Rolls
Cuisine: Indian
Contact: (91) (033) 22177308
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 200.

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