Halting midway through your road trip to heavy paranthas and sabzis dripping in oil, served in traditional steel thalis with lots of onions and green chillis – priceless! Writing from personal experience, the most appealing, intriguing and adventurous bits of my road trips have been credited to the simplest, most humble roadside meals!
The roadside dhabas have a charm of their own, watching interstate truckers stopping over, sitting on the bamboo khatiyas, a la Bollywood! The dramatic highway dhabas have a lot to their credit…. some, legendary enough to be listed as the best in the country! That is exactly what my attempt here is. These highway Dhabas in North India are popular, modest yet inviting…. the best!
Not your quinessential ‘Dhaba’, Cheetal still finds the topmost slot for my list by virtue of the place being literally legendary! It is one of the oldest places on the highway which is clean and hygienic and the craze of stopping here hasn’t changed over the years. My personal favourite owing to the open spacious area… and add some tandoori stuff parathas and the pakoras for the road, and you’re sorted!
Mr Sanjay Dhaba, Srinagar-Leh Highway
Amidst the meandering landscapes and unparalleled beauty of the Srinagar to Leh Highway, about 30 kilometres from Srinagar, lies this lone little shack that is the only respite to travellers plying on the route. If you find yourself gorging on Aloo parantha and chai here, you are a true traveller!
Where: 50 kms to Leh, Srinagar-Leh Highway, NH 1D
Zimidara Dhaba, Shanewal Near Ludhiana, Delhi-Amritsar Highway
On the Delhi – Amritsar Highway on the outskirts of Ludhiana, this is the typical Perfect Punjabi Indian dhaba of Bollywood, if you are adventurous enough to rake in the typical ‘dhaba’ environment. The highpoint? Good food with unlimited lassi for free! Can you expect anything less than this hospitality in Punjab? Aloo parantha and Dal Makhani…. and of course bottomless glass of lassi will set you for your journey ahead! The prices aren’t a reason to debate upon!
Where: Delhi – Amritsar Highway on the outskirts of Ludhiana, Grand Trunk Rd, Sahnewal, Khakat, Punjab
Puran Singh Da Dhaba, Near Ambala City, Delhi-Chandigarh NH 1
Puran Singh ka Mashoor Dhaba is right on the intersection, across the road from the Ambala bus depot. This dhaba has been serving highway travelers for at least three decades. If you’re on the route, hit the place for the most delish mutton curry or stuffed parathas with curd and butter for the perfect breakfast.
But those hunting for the dhaba for the first time often confuse it with the two other Puran Singh dhabas, located immediately before the real one when approaching from the Chandigarh end. The authentic one is on the corner across from the bus stop, and is the largest of all the surrounding eateries.
Where: Opposite Ambala Cant Railway Station, Nh 1, Ambala
Giani Da Dhaba, Kalka-Shimla Road, NH 22
Giani Da Dhaba is a popular pit stop for the tourists and travellers driving towards the en-route tourist destinations like Kasauli and Shimla. The famous eatery of Giani Da Dhaba, which was demolished earlier from it’s original location during the widening of the NH-22 highway, has shifted to a shop opposite its previous place at Dharampur.
A mandatory stopover place to enjoy the stuffed parathas and the lassi enroute Shimla, for almost more than 2 decades, the dhaba still retains it’s fame.
Where: Chandigarh-Shimla Highway, NH 22, Dharampur, Himachal Pradesh
Chilika Dhaba, Barku
One of the top most Dhabas in the country and certainly the best in state of Odisha. The Dhaba is The Dhaba has great offerings for a non-veg lover with a large menu of sea food. The specialties are crab ,prawn and mushroom items. The ambiance in the dhaba is not that great but the food more than makes up for that.
Overall, for sea food lovers ,its a great place to hang out and enjoy food near to the chilika lake.
Where: 2 hours from the City of Bhubaneshwar on National Highway 5 Connecting Chennai and Kolkata near Barnum panthanivas road I.e. state Highway (not on bypass)
Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba, G.T Road, Murthal NH 1
Established almost 50 years ago, the food journey of Amrik Sukhdev is nothing short of a joy ride. With a humble beginning of mainly catering to the needs of truck drivers, we have always served our food with simplicity and love. The delicious meal of dal roti, sabzi and rice was served on charpais initially.
Adding global flavours in the menu with Chinese and Continental on the menu, Amrik Sukhdev is a major landmark on the GT Road.
Where: No.52, 250KM Stone, Grand Trunk Rd, Murthal, Haryana
NH7refuel is home to all those who love exploring unique experiences in travelling and dining. NH7refuel promises to provide an amazing experience amidst nature with the menu ranging from a variety of cuisines (Andhra, North-Indian, South-Indian and Continental). NH7refuel also offers hookah along with a snacks menu in a completely different sitting arrangement which is just the perfect stop over.
Where: NH7 Refuel, Devanhalli, Banglore Highway- NH7 highway near Devanahalli, (right before the left turn to Nandi Hills if coming from Bangalore city)
Now, Old Rao Hotel, A large hall with steel topped tables, filled with people eating studiously, is what a standard scenario is at this NH8 Based Traditional Indian dhaba that delivers great food quality and hygienic food. Food is some where between an Indian restaurant’s offering and home food so less than a typical dhaba that people have got used to.
Desi menu is what is best here- Plain tandoori Roti with Dal Fry, Chana masala or a simple Panner dish or Veg biryani.
Where: Near Dharuhera on NH-8 between Delhi & Jaipur.
The place to go to, when you’re looking for a hearty and delicious meal in the middle of the drive between Mumbai and Pune. One can get the best varieties of Rajasthani and North Indian dishes here. A hygiene oriented place, well maintaining the quality and quantity of food. Enjoy a palatable meal of Dal Bharti Churma, Dahi Vada and Masala Butter Milk, and you are as good as new to resume your road trip.
Earlier a quintessential ‘dhaba’, it now as a glamorous version, though still a coveted roadside highway eatery that has maintained it’s food quality…. Don’t miss the ‘khat’ if you want a typical dhaba experience!
Where: Transport Nagar (Nigdi), near the old Mumbai-Pune highway
Shere-e-Punjab is an excellent family highway dining experience at Kolaghat beside NH6 (Bombay Highway). Visitors touring Mandarmani, Digha, Sankarpur, Tajpur by road will find it an ideal break point during the ply. Fresh hot puris and lassi or a cup of tea for breakfast or Dal Tadka, Aloo paratha, Gulab jamun, Chicken malai kabab and Chaach for lunch, it is ideal for that much needed pitstop.
One of the most popular and most crowded food joints on the highway, it stands as one of the best in that vicinity offering budget quality food, by virtue of which it also hosts truck drivers.
Where: National Highway 6, Kharagpur
Nothing like the desi feel… isn’t it?
I would love for you to add to the experience by sharing your suggestions!