By Ayush Kurundwad
In this age of Shorts and Reels, “history” is made as quickly as 6 seconds ago. But what if I took you back more than six decades, to a deliciously simple time in the life of Bengaluru city? To places where the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, slurped steaming sambhar and Queen Elizabeth II drifted into dosa heaven…
Discover some of Bengaluru’s best-loved eateries which serve classic delicacies flavoured with a rich past:
Established in 1943, Vidyarthi Bhavan has remained unchanged in its culinary spirit, serving simple, homely South Indian food. “Vidyarthi Bhavan” means a haven for students, but 75 years down the line, it has become so much more. “Vidyarthi Bhavan is very important for us. It is a mark of true roots,” said Indumathi, a local resident who regularly visits the place.
The only downside to Vidyarthi Bhavan’s buttery masala dosas and fluffy Idlis is the ever-present bustling crowd in the one-room eatery. But of course, you could choose to look at that as its charm. “I love Vidyarthi Bhavan for its lively atmosphere. What is better than being in a roomful of dosa-lovers,” says Namitha Adina, a regular customer.
The place is no stranger to prominent personalities. It’s been visited by everyone from legendary Kannada poet Kuvempu to the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramiah. N Santosh Hegde, Former Lokayukta of Karnataka, stated in his testimonial that “The food was delicious, one of the best masala dosas I have ever had.” Vidyarthi Bhavan proudly displays famous handwritten testimonials on its official website.
Timeless and Iconic: these two words best describe Koshy’s. It’s an old-school diner that has hosted a few people you definitely know. You guessed it right! The very first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and even the former monarch of Britain, Queen Elizabeth II have dined at Koshy’s. It has stood in the heart of Bengaluru since 1940.
“I love Koshy’s menu, it has so much variety! I can get tourists from anywhere to enjoy the food here,” says Ashwin, a local tour guide. Indeed, the menu of Koshy’s is a time-moulded mix of Indian and English classic offerings, ranging from seafood curries and biryanis to fish & chips and steaks. But the history geeks and foodies revisit the iconic eatery for one thing only: the irreplaceable filter coffee! Ashwin says,” There’s nothing better than a cup of Koshy’s coffee to get me energised!”
Please note that Koshy’s still maintains its rather conservative timings, and shuts its doors at 5 P.M every evening.
Mavalli Tiffin Room/ MTR-
It is quite probable that you’ve already heard about the famous MTR. Unlike others in this list, MTR, or Mavalli Tiffin Room, has spread its wings across the world, delivering its packaged delicacies across 20+ countries. It is also the oldest eatery on this list, established as far back as 1924. MTR still remains a humble 2-floor building that has maintained much of its rustic charm. It continues to serve numerous South-Indian delicacies that we cannot get enough of. Its inception coincided with troubled times for India, with rampant food shortage and poverty in the colonial era. Therefore, the eatery came up with the aim to make nutritious food affordable to the masses.
“I’ve never seen a free table at MTR, you just have to pre-book your place!”, says Joshua, a student who keeps travelling between Bengaluru and Hyderabad. “I always make it a point to visit MTR every time I’m in Bengaluru.” One can see quite a few customers even early in the morning at 6:30 when MTR first opens its doors for the day.
MTR continues to be run by successive generations of the same family. The growth of MTR is a roller-coaster ride of infamous times and clever strategy, and you can learn more about it on their official website. As the MTR Foods CEO, Sanjay Sharma, says, “We want MTR to be the Haldirams of the South” (via Business Today).