12 Iconic Food Joints one MUST Visit in Pune!
Updated: Jul 31, 2020
All Photos: Vidyuth Singh
Pune, like any other budding cosmopolitan has a large and ever growing food community. And like everything else, Pune and Punekars take pride in the food they eat and serve. Those who swear by the innumerable gastronomical delights peppering the city, claim the spirit of any place is defined by the age-old, lesser known food joints which are generally missed out by conventional city guides. If I decide, I can list more than 50 legendary places in the city, but here is my personal list 12 iconic food joints in Pune which have shaped thge city' food culture over the years. When in Pune, eat like the Punekars do!
1. Shrikrishna Bhuvan
Located in one of the by-lanes of Tulshibaug and established in 1941, Shrikrishna Bhuvan serves one of the best Misal in Pune. At Shrikrishna, you get the typical Puneri misal served in the form of pohe (flattened rice) and potato bhaaji covered with shev and raw onions, served along with two slices of bread and a mildly spicy ‘sample’ (Curry made from onions, grated coconut and tomatoes) or more famously known as ‘katt’. One can ask for the sample in varying forms of spice. Shrikrishna takes pride in serving ONLY misal through the day.
2. Royal Bakery & Confectionery
Started by S. A. Irani in the early 1900’s, Royal Bakery & Confectionery is located on the M.G. Road in the cantonment area of Pune. One of the oldest bakeries in Pune, Royal has a long list of customers and loyalists who make sure that the cakes and breads are off the counter by afternoon! The most famous item on the menu is the milk bread known as Milko-Vita along with the soft cupcakes and the wine and pistachio biscuits.
3. The Place, Touché The Sizzler
In 1963, Firoz Erani conceptualized a way to keep meats hot till the last bite and so he created The Sizzler, a quaint garden restaurant in the old Exclesior Cinema in Mumbai. In 1967 Erani’s son Shahrookh who had trained and worked with him started a restaurant called ‘Touché’ in Breach Candy, Mumbai which served ‘sizzlers’. In 1971 after moving to Pune, he continued his father’s legacy by opening The Place, Touché The Sizzler. Four decades later, The Place continues to be the ultimate sizzler joint for residents of Pune and Mumbai too.
In 1949, at the age of 13, Jagannath Shetty came to Pune from Karnataka and worked with his uncle for a few years. Then in 1951, he opened his own place Café Madras (present day Hotel Roopali) and then the Madras Health Home which later came to be known as Vaishali Restaurant in the 1960s. Located on the Fergusson College Road, Vaishali in those days was a tiny restaurant which served piping hot Udupi food and became particularly famous among youngsters from the many colleges in the area. Today Vaishali is one of the most popular restaurants in Pune and a favourite among young and old alike. Whenever you pass by FC Road, an aroma of Sambar literally draws you towards this place!
5. Cold Drink House
The Cold Drink House is one of the first place in Pune to serve doodh cold drink or ice-cream cold drink (Now popularly known as Mastani). Tucked away in a by-lane near Mandai, the cold drink house is run by the Gujar family and has been in operation 1923. Once you enter the shop, you are transported back to that era, thanks to the paintings, old photographs and advertisements for Kokam Sarbat and Brahmi Oil. They serve the Bajirao Mastani which is delicious, but their Mango Mastani is one of the best in Pune.
6. Garden Vada Pav
Started in 1972 by Kashinath Naiku and his mother Parvati, the Garden Vada Pav Centre has been serving yummy wada pav for over 40 years and three generations. Started as a hand-driven cart opposite the JJ Garden off M. G. Road, this place is hard to miss thanks to the hungry crowd surrounding the stall throughout the day! The vada preparation happens at the newly acquired premises nearby and the hot wadas are carried manually to the cart. The wada pav is served with raw onion, chura and pickled lemons. Voted as the best place to have Wada-Pav in Pune by food-bloggers and TripAdvisor, this place finds mention in a lot of guidebooks and food guides about Pune.
7. Vaidya Upahar Gruha
Vaidya Upahar Gruha was started in 1912 by Raghunath Ramchandra Vaidya who had migrated to Pune from the Konkan region. It was started near the bustling Phadke Haud Chowk in Raviwar Peth, at a time when not many Maharashtrians ventured into the food business. Over the 100 years, the ownership has stayed within the family and currently the place is run by Deepak Joshi, Vaidya’s great-grandson. The timings of the eatery were set by Joshi’s grandmother Sushila in 1960 as she had to look after the house along with the restaurant. The ‘Saturday off’ rule has been in operation since inception, to make sure that the staff is happy and can work in a better frame of mind!
8. Café Goodluck
In 1935, Hussain Ali Yakshi started Good Luck Café after he acquired the premises from one Narayan Seth. Good Luck is one the oldest Irani places in Pune and now one of the last few left in the city. Since the inception of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in 1965, Good Luck has been popular with the students who used to frequent the café, where one samosa with one chaai and a cigarette would cost one rupee. The café is famous for its various egg preparations along with the Baked Beans on toast, Bun Maska & Irani Chai. The café also served a range of sweet dishes which include the caramel custard, bread pudding and the fruit funny.
9. Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale
Following his father’s successful dairy business in Sangli, Raghunathrao (Bhausaheb) Chitale established Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale in 1950 in Pune, Maharashtra. Operations began from a shop on the Bajirao Road in the heart of the city, which is still in existence. Eventually, one more principal outlet was opened at Deccan Gymkhana. After years of two operational branches, Chitale ventured across the city in the form of ten franchise outlets making the products accessible to a wider audience. Chitale generates a profound recall value for its Bakarwadi, a crisp and spicy Maharashtrian snack which sells at an average of 3000 kg everyday!
10. Dorabjee & Sons
Dorabjee & Sons Restaurant was started by Dorabjee Sorabjee in 1878 with an aim to create a homely eatery which serves food that he enjoyed eating. He made sure that the portions are generous and affordable, so that his cosmopolitan friends could eat here and go away satisfied. 120 years later, Darius Dorabjee, the fourth generation descendant of Sorabjee, still honours this tradition. With specials like mutton & chicken dhansak with brown rice, patrani machhi, sali chicken and the chicken farcha, this place serves the best Parsi food in the city. Dorabjee is one of the very few places in Pune which serves the locally made cold drink – Ardeshir, which was established in 1884!
Marz-o-rin was founded by Sheriar Sheriyarji in 1965 with only four items on the menu. Housed in a heritage building over 100 years old, today Marz-o-rin has over 150 items on the menu and is one of the most popular locations in Pune. Marz-O-Rin loyalists come from far and wide just to eat the chutney, vegetable, chicken and cheese sandwiches. The menu changes with time and now it includes a lot of healthy options like low fat sauce, tofu, brown bread and salads.
12. Blue Nile
Blue Nile was started around 40 years back by Haji Ali Akbar Mashallah and is housed in a beautiful heritage building opposite Poona Club. Blue Nile is synonymous with Biryani in Pune and their loyal customers throng this place to get a taste of their favourite mutton and chicken biryani. Apart from Biryani, Blue Nile also serves Irani food items like Chicken and Mutton Chelo Kabab with Buttered Rice.