Nothing is a thing of the past….at least not in terms of food! The old, the heritage is always the basis of taste, no matter what the era. You can experiment, you can innovate, you can do what you like….. but the time-tested flavours will remain! And nothing holds truer for these iconic pre-independence era restaurants, that have survived the test of time…. decades and eras, and still stand tall, holding their own essence. Since Pre-Independence, These Are India’s Legendary Restaurants, For A Good Reason!
United Coffee House, New Delhi
United Coffee House, a legendary café-restaurant and bar, is one of the most celebrated in the world. It was conceptualized in 1942, the year of quit India movement, by an entrepreneurial magnate late Lala Hans Raj Kalra. It was the time when the talks were about India breaking free from the shackles of British. It was opened with an aim to bring the diverse characteristics of Delhi under one roof and offered an open environment where the discerning clients could sit, relax, interact and have a rendezvous and hold a intellectual discussions. Being the centre place for people from different walks of life, UCH brought change in the way people used to socialize and introduced flavours which even today, after 7 decades, ruled the palates of many. Throughout its long history the tables of UCH have been crowded with writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, actor, affluent businessmen, Philanthropists Travelers, Politicians, and Bureaucrats.
Where: E-15, Rajiv Chowk, Inner Circle, Block E, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Tunday Kababi, Lucknow
Established in 1905 by Haji Murad Ali, the one-armed star cook of the Nawab of Lucknow. He was referred to as ‘tunday’ kebabi because he only had one arm. He lost the other in a kite-flying match. He was offered the royal patronage of the Nawab of Lucknow after he won a contest for making the most delicious kebabs. His eatery came to be known as Tunday Kababi and his signature dish’s recipe is still a well-guarded secret.
Tucked away in the narrow gullies in the old area of Lucknow, this iconic eating joint, is famous for serving buffalo meat Galauti kebab. Since then, the eatery has been famous for the softest, most succulent Galauti Kebabs that one could have ever had.Its original outlet is located in Chawk area behind Akbari Gate in Old Lucknow.
Where: Vivek Complex, Kapoorthala, Aliganj, Lucknow
Leopold’s Cafe, Mumbai
Founded in 1871 by Iranis, Leopold’s Cafe, is a landmark eatery in the heart of Mumbai. The Zoroastrian Iranians came to India in the late 19th and early 20th century, and many of them opened restaurants now often termed Irani cafés. It first started out as a wholesale cooking oil store and over the years has variously been a restaurant, store and pharmacy, hence the name “Leopold Cafe & Stores.
Prior to the terrorist attack, it was particularly known as a popular hangout for foreign tourists. After the attack, it is also now also popular with many Indians to commemorate the spirit of defiance.
Where: Opp Olympia Coffee House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba Causeway, Mumbai
Dorabjee & Sons, Pune
Located in a narrow lane in Sharbatwala chowk in Camp is Dorabjee and Sons, a place that has seduced millions of taste buds since 1878. This traditional Parsi eatery is now run by Darius Dorabjee. A charming, old restaurant in Pune, Dorabjee and Sons was started by Dorabjee Sorabjee back in time.
The unassuming place that started out as a tea stall, rose to fame by virtue of their traditional menu. Time is just a word when you enter the place, replete with the arched entrance, the vintage charm still intact. Their time tested and appreciated Parsi recipes are a heritage that have been handed down through generations creating heritage specialties as Dhansak, Patrani Machchi and Salli Boti.
Where: No. 845, Dastur Meher Road, Sharbat Wala Chowk, Pune
Mavalli Tiffin Room, Bangalore
A legendary name in South Indian comfort food, this super-popular eatery has had Bengaluru eating out of its hands since 1924.
The story goes…. In 1920, three brothers Parameshwara Maiya, Ganappayya Maiya and Yagnanarayana Maiya left a small, sleepy hamlet near Udupi in South Kanara, a region in the state of Karnataka, in search of greener pastures and found their way to Bengaluru. Being proficient in cooking, they found employment as cooks in the homes of some prominent people of those times.
In 1960, the restaurant shifted to its present location on Lalbagh Road, Bengaluru and grew in stature and name. MTR became a landmark. In 1968, Yagnanarayana Maiya passed away, handing over the mantle to his nephew Harishchandra Maiya and the legacy continues with the third generation in the saddle.
Where: #17/1, 3rd Cross, H. Siddaiah Road, Bengaluru
Call: 08022230471, 98868 41474
Flurys, the legendary tearoom on fashionable Park Street in Kolkata was founded in the year 1927 by a Swiss expatriate couple Mr and Mrs J Flurys. Presenting fine European traditional confections, it soon became a popular meeting place for all ages. It introduced to the city, it’s many generations to authentic Swiss and International delicacies. Owned and managed by the Apeejay Surrendra Group since 1965, Flurys has been setting continuous benchmarks in the gourmet Bakery and Confectionery segment in India.
Flurys over the decades has became a part of the culture of Kolkata and no morning walker’s or office goer’s daily routine is complete without a visit to this legendary eatery.
Where: 18 Park Street Kolkata
Sheikh Brothers Bakery, Guwahati
It all began nearly 125 years ago when Shaikh Ghulam Ibrahim, an enterprising youth from Bengal’s Hoogly district first came to Assam to execute construction work. Ibrahim’s family was then was doing roaring business at their bakery in Calcutta’s Mirzapur Street, and so was quick to realize the potential of a bakery in Assam.
This cake shop was established in 1985 with a view to offer scrumptious bakery products and desserts. They are well-known for their stunning designer cakes, which are made-to-order for varied occasions and events. Renowned for their collection that features bespoke designs, it also customises cakes for extravagant wedding bashes in a gamut of flavours that never fails to titillate one’s taste-buds.
Where: 195, Hem Baruah Rd, Pan Bazaar, Guwahati, Assam
Delhi Mishthan Bhandaar, Shillong
Heard about the world’s largest jalebi, 75 inches in diameter and 15 kgs in weight? This wonder was created by this legendary cafe, earning it’s name into the Guinness Book of World Records in the year 2008. Located in downtown Shillong’s bustling Police Bazaar, Delhi Misthan Bhandaar has earned the title of one of India’s legendary and iconic savoury serving eatery.
Serving the locals with mouthwatering sweets, savouries since 1930, The place serves unarguably the best jalebis and gulab jamuns one can get in town. There is nothing here that a sweet loving soul wouldn’t spare a hand and foot for.
Where: Police Bazar, Shillong, Meghalaya
Rayar’s Mess, Chennai
Founded as Rayar’s Café by Srinivasa Rao, the almost 80-year-old eatery is known not only for its delectable food but also its familial charm. Now run by Rao’s grandsons, Mohan and Kumar, the mess is one of the few in the city to still follow the same menu it began with.
Rayar Mess has been around since the pre-independence era and gained popularity from the 1950s. Located in Arundale Street in Mylapore, this eatery has seen a lot of famous footfalls over the years. Down a dusty narrow alley off the street, this tiny eatery has been pulling in ravenous crowds for over 70 years with its crispy evening bondas, vadas and dosas. . It is known for serving hot idlis and fresh chutneys since pre-independence. The USP of the place is boastfully apprised by…. providing hot food straight from the kitchen, hence no compromises on quality. Idli, Vada and Pongal are the only dishes served in the morning.
The welcoming demeanour of the owners and the humble atmosphere rakes in a homely feel.
Where: 31, Arundel St, Madhavaperumalpuram, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Bharawan Da Dhaba, Amritsar
The name isn’t to be introduced to visitors or locals of Amritsar. This down-to-earth Amritsar institution has been serving lip-smacking Punjabi treats since 1912. More than 100 years old, the eatery started as a humble restaurant serving authentic Punjabi gastronomy. Started as a humble eatery in the heart of Amritsar, by Jagannath Vij, the place rose to fame and accolades owing to the authenticity brought forth by his dedication and passion. After his death, the heritage was handed over to his sons, Jitinder Vij and Subhash Vij, who initially ran the place together, building the fame further in tandem with the changing times and demands, yet…. maintaining the heritage flavours and processes. Now they run two separate outlets, giving in to the rising demands.
The place sees Bollywood actors, dignitaries and foreign travellers visiting the restaurant by the second, owing to it’s stone’s throw proximity to the Golden Temple and the place being the most popular since it’s inception.
Where: Town Hall, Amritsar, Punjab 143001, India
If you’re visiting any of the cities mentioned above, a sojourn at these iconic landmarks is an absolute necessity! No exaggeration here, they are legendary for a reason!