I love Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, but hey, is Bengaluru obsessed with food? If you search for ‘Bangalore Foodies’ on Facebook, you will find not one or two but a whopping 26 groups. Go ahead. Try it.

A similar search on Delhi foodies turned up six groups, including the page by the name ‘Delhi Noida Food Freaks.’ Search on Facebook for ‘Mumbai Foodies’ and there are eight groups, even after expanding the ambit to include ‘Mumbai Food and Drinks club’.

Kolkata foodies turned up seven, including ‘Bengali foodies’. Chennai foodies search takes you to 10 pages, including a foodie’s group that communicates in Tamil.

Does this mean that Bengaluru is the foodie capital of India? That it is the one city that takes food seriously to the point of forming communities around it and obsessing over obscure and mundane recipes? I believe so.

Over the last week, under the name of research, I have been prowling most of the Bengaluru foodie groups, both online and offline. Some are rabidly commercial with home cooks and chefs posting recipes, offers, discounts and rewards. Others such as the Bengaluru Biriyani Club and the Koramangala Lunch Group meet in person at different outlets. Most of my non-vegetarian friends say that the pleasures of biryani are lost on vegetarians like me. So, I joined the Koramangala Lunch Group (KLG) for lunch at a pizza restaurant.

For the last six years– and that’s a long time– except during the darkest days of Covid, this group of about 15 people have met every Wednesday at 1pm. Founder Nimish Gupta posts the restaurant’s name on Wednesday morning. You show up, eat, drink and share the cost. That’s it. They welcome guests. If you are flying into Bengaluru on a Wednesday and want to join a group of passionate foodies for lunch, you can find them on Facebook and ask for the location, says Nimish. On the day I attended, about seven of them were in attendance. I asked them for a list of obscure places and their top choices. Here they are:

Street Storyss: All vegetarian food, ranging from fusion to Jain. Well presented. Modern ambience (Aarti and Vivek Vaid)

Bamey’s Nepali Bistro: Excellent Nepali food, Thakali thalis, Momos. Good even for vegetarians. (Aarti and Vivek Vaid)

BYLI (Bet You Like It): All-day dining. Great breakfast dishes. Eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes. In Kalyan Nagar. (Paul Abraham)

7 Plates: Tight menu. Also, in Kalyan Nagar where I live. Go here for the kebabs or the rolls. They are terrific. (Paul Abraham)

Naati Cafe in Koramangala: You should try their vegetarian biryani and their chicken mutton pulao that is a version of the famous original Hanumanthu pulao in Mysore. Go to Naati Sogadu for ragi mudde and bas-saaru. (Devesh Agarwal)

Sendhoor Coffee: They have excellent ghee podi idlis, vadas, paniyaarams, and multiple varieties of dosas and of course coffee also (Devesh Agarwal)

Polamma’s Mess: Go here for homely Andhra meals. (Jaideep Gaandhie)

Sri Krishna Kafe for authentic pocket-friendly banana-leaf meals that you can eat daily. (Jaideep Gaandhie)

Sri Amba Bhavani Caterers: Quintessential pulav and dishes from a humble immigrant Maratha house. (Kunal Bysani aka Ghatotkacha on Instagram)

Mulbagilu dosa: This is a fluffy dosa made on a thick cast iron tawa with lots of ghee and oil. Batter and fillings are different. It is one of a kind and you cannot find it outside Karnataka. (Kunal Bysani)

Shetty Lunch Home: Good authentic Mangalore food. Ghee roast, majjige dosas and lots of lunch options including a thali. Reasonably priced beer. (Nimish Gupta)

Dalma: Odia food is little known here in Bengaluru and Dalma does a great job to present it. Unusual ingredients and well-made food. (Nimish Gupta)

Every city has its foodies who will swear by certain cuisines and neighbourhoods. Here are some suggestions that all of the KLG members present that day agreed upon as “hidden gems” of Bengaluru. Their top picks in other words. And I am sure this is a list that will have many additions and revisions the minute it is printed.

Sri Krishna Cafe is an old and favourite establishment. China Pearl is great for well, the name says it all. 154 Breakfast Club for a variety of eggs, and non-Indian breakfast dishes. Naati Kafe serves native Bellary chicken, akki-rice rotis, and traditional Kannada food. If you crave Singapore-style hawker food, go to Nasi & Mee.

Lastly, let me put in a plug for my secret place. I go to Tewari Brothers fairly regularly, often by myself, for a quick and delicious lunch of their puri-aloo. I buy, sit by myself and eat quietly. Bengaluru has many such pocket-friendly restaurants that serve delicious food. You just need to join the foodie groups’ online to find out where they are.

(Shoba Narayan is Bengaluru-based award-winning author. She is also a freelance contributor who writes about art, food, fashion and travel for a number of publications.)

Is Bengaluru the foodie capital of India?
Pongal South Indian breakfast on a banana leaf

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