The month of Shravana opens the doors to restaurants one wouldn’t normally frequent. For most, going out means having a nice non-veg meal, some drinks (you know what I’m talking about here) and things that are tantalising for the tastebuds and mellow down your senses. In the month of abstinence, things change. Vegetarian food is once again on the menu and no intoxicants enter the body. So here is a list of vegetarian places that are tantalising to the tastebuds and give you a gastronomic high.
(The listings are in no particular order. These are just few of the places I have visited and liked.)
Durvankur Dining Hall
Where: 1166, Sadashiv Peth, Hatti Ganapati Chowk, Tilak Road, Pune
Timings: 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
If you’re someone searching for authentic Maharashtrian food, this is the place to be (or you can opt to strike a conversation with a neighbouring kaku. All Maharashtrian women are ‘sugrans‘ or amazing cooks). Durvankur has been a favourite for Marathi people for generations and this is the place for most family outings (planned by the ajjis and ajobas). The thali here is unlimited and the food is amazingly tasty. The varan bhat is my all-time favourite and you will get enough ghee to make you think twice about your protruding belly. The thali consists of various bhajis, chapatis, kheer/aamras/shreekhanda/amrakhanda/any of the Maharashtrian sweet dishes, puri, masale bhat and a few more (which I cannot recollect). The place is Puneri to the core. Last I heard, it offers Rs. 20 off on a thali if you polish off all the morsels you’re served. This not only is an initiative to stop wastage of food but also caters to a very fundamental Marathi belief, “Anna he Purna bramha.” (Food is God itself). So, when you hear your mom or an elderly say, “taatatla sampav. asa anna vaya ghalvu naye!“, be a Punekar and finish it up.
Where: Fergusson College Road, Shivaji Nagar, Pune (This place is itself a landmark, so it’s hard not to find it, even without a map!)
Timings: 7am to 11pm
Do we really need a reason to go to Vaishali? We Punekars just love the place. Yes, we complain it is always crowded, its prices rise after every visit and you’re not allowed to relax (for there is always a crowd of onlookers observing your every move hoping to get in your place). Yet, the SPDP, the Mysore Cheese Masala Dosa (which was a whopping Rs. 120 the last time I visited), the idli, the uttappa, their awesome sambar just makes you want to go back, right? You can order just about anything from the menu and it’ll be tasty. Yes, I have seen people having burgers, sandwiches, toasts, pizzas and what not, each as tasty as my patent order (SPDP+MC (Mysore Cheese)Dosa+ Cheese Onion Uttappa). If you’re there in the mornings, the upma is a must (its available only till 11am I think). The timings for the SPDP is post 5pm. You can gorge on the sambar/chutney dishes just about anytime.
Mayur Veg Thali
Where: Ground Floor, Lunkad Skymax Mall, 2nd Crossing from Symbiosys College, Viman Nagar, Pune
2431, East Street, Camp, Pune – 01
573/7, Jangli Maharaj Road, Deccan, Pune – 04.
Timings: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM to 10:15 PM
When a friend told me he’ll be going out with his family at Viman Nagar I was kind of surprised. When he mentioned they are going to a place to have thali, more so. It is definitely time for me to change my thinking that good thalis are available only near the peth areas.
Mayur Thali is a grand affair in itself with simple and delicious mouthwatering delicacies. You’ll get authentic Gujrati food just apt for your taste buds. It has been a regular joint for most family outing. The khichdi, daal baati, kadhi and lovely ghee bhara phulkas. are my all time favourite. The thali consists of various bhajis, chapatis, sweet dish and unlimited scoops of ghee.
Unlimited, delicious and heaven are few words which describes Mayur Thali. A must try for your family outings or simply if you want go traditional on your palette and want to try something different from your usual Maharashtrian and Punjabi foods.
Where: 1229/A Shivajinagar F.C Road, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune-04
Timings: 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Wadeshwar is another gem on FC Road. Yes, Vaishali beats it in the udupi food category (some like this one better. Maybe my personal bias) but Wadeshwar has something Vaishali doesn’t. Its ambience is a little relaxed, its less crowded and it has got other options like Maharashtrian food, pav bhaji, etc. More than its food and ambience is the attitude that it exudes, making a Punekar feel at home. Call it great PR but one does feel great being there. They have the most wonderful strategies (in an act of word-of-mouth promotion it gave customers the option of paying whatever they felt like in the first week. Me and a bunch of friends came back having a good meal in 50paise. Cheap are we?) . The pav bhaji here is awesome and so are the Indian dishes (comparison of idli/dosa with Vaishali is uncalled for) especially the set dosa, kothimbir wadi, chaat and sabudana khichdi. But the juices, milkshakes & kulfi are a must have (decide what you want, unless you are a Bakasur and can gorge on food plus each of the mentioned). You can also opt for Wadeshwar Bhuvan at Sadashiv Peth (if you think the FC Road one is always too crowded and full of hipsters).
Where: Nirmiti Eminence, Near Mehendale Garage, Erandwana, Pune-04
Timings: 10am to 11pm
If there’s any place that can give Vaishali some competition in terms of crowd, its this one. People from all over throng this place for a good lunch or snack. You will find people ranging from youngsters, families to old people (in their own group) awaiting a place to have their meal. The food here is amazing and the ambience is okay (it is clean). The dosa, pav bhaji and the veg. spring roll or dragon roll are great for a snack. I would suggest you go for a meal, with a favourite sabji and roti along with rice. Even the chinese dishes are delicious. However, ensure to save your apetite for the dessert; sizzling chocolate brownie. DO NOT leave without having one.
Where: S.No. 263/2/1, Varsha Park, Bhairavee Exclusive Residency, Baner Road, Aundh, Pune
Timings: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Imagine how it feels going to Baner (from Kothrud) and eating a Maharashtrian thali. It’s like going to Goa and having some dahi bhat. However, the place is not just amazing the food is wonderfully delicious. Though not to different from a place serving thali or Maharashtrian food, Bhairavee is much cleaner and has a much more welcoming feel to it. Their food ranges from the typical to sizzlers (wonder if anyone does order one?). Their chole bhature are a treat, the subjis go wonderfully with the rotis, they also offer Chinese (naming it Great wall of Chaina) and they offer Mastani (which is delicious) and more. Definitely worth a try.
Where: 1199/1A Ferguson College Road, Hotel Parichaya, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune
Timings: 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM, 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Let me warn you that there is another place with the same name and you might end up there if you search your map and spell it ‘Shabari‘. So if you’re using Apple maps or depending on Punekars to help you with the directions, be very careful. The Shabari in Dhanukar is exactly opposite of what one would normally want on a shravana (though that is the place for the cheapest alcohol I know. Maybe go there next Gatari?). Shabree on FC Road is world’s apart, it serves Maharashtrian dishes that make you remember your, “Aji chya hatcha khana” (only applicable if she is Maharashtrian). You can have bharleli vangi, bhakri, mirchi cha thecha, puran poli (depends as it may not be available sometimes), amrakhanda/shreekhanda, Tawa Thalipeeth, Koshimbir, Kolhapuri Dal fry and the usual Maharashtrian food (that you’ll find in any Marathi wedding). The food is class apart and it’s quite rare to find a good restaurant that serves such simple yet tasty food. If your grandmom/mother are non-Punekars and you miss having a good Maharashtrian meal, this is the place to be!
Other places worth mentioning here:
Panchavati Gaurav, 1st Floor, Kotwal Complex, Bhandarkar Road, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune
Rajdhani Thali (has outlets in Pheonix, Viman nagar, Amanora Park town and JM Road)
Darshan, 759/60 Prabhat Road, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune
Featured image: www.ifood.tv