Visitors to Pune in Western India are often surprised to discover just how varied and exciting the restaurant scene is in the city. The top of the range international hotels each have their own exquisite restaurants, serving every cuisine from Italian to pan-Asian. Likewise, the little local restaurants serving traditional Maharashtrian dishes are just as worthy of a visit, so we’ve provided a guide to the top 10 dining establishments in the area.
A particular favorite due to the delectable Chinese and Thai dishes cooked up by one of the best chef’s in the city, Baan Tao is situated within the Hyatt Hotel. Diners can choose a table in the peaceful tea lounge complete with a gentle waterfall, or in one of the romantic pavilions set around tranquil oasis for a more intimate dinner. The crunchy papaya salad is an incredibly light and tasty menu choice, as is the sweet tamarind-cooked fish. Although a great dinner venue every night of the week, Baan Tao really comes into its own every Thursday when the entire restaurant transforms into an Asian street food festival allowing diners to sample all sorts of culinary delights, including dim sum parcels and shabu shabu Japanese hot pots.
Specializing in Maharashtrian style fish and seafood, Fish Curry Rice has an impeccable reputation for its huge variety and superb quality of fresh produce on its menu. The restaurant may be simple in decor but it is always extremely busy, as locals and tourists alike tuck into an array of traditionally prepared coastal dishes such as tisrey (baby clams) and bangda (mackerel). For those with a desire for a bit more spice, the exhaustive list of masala fish curries served with a choice of rice or fries will do just the job.
Guests can order directly from the chefs at Harajuku’s interactive open kitchen. A Japanese restaurant situated within the O Hotel, Harajuku is made up of a series of sushi, sashimi and teppanyaki counters functioning in a similar way to a buffet restaurant. As the only exclusively Japanese restaurant in Pune, the owners have gone all out in its decoration. The boldly painted red walls, plush upholstery and sparkling chandeliers emphasizes the enjoyably indulgent experience of dining at Harajuku. Tuck into a lunchtime bento box consisting of an aromatic main course, tempura selection, salad, six sushi rolls and a sweet dessert, or reserve a table for a delectable dinner of world class sushi and teppanyaki.
No trip to Pune is complete without trying the hugely popular vada pavs, and no where does them better than this little cart in JJ Garden. One of the most popular street food snacks in India, vada pavs are made from spiced deep-fried potatoes garnished with various chutneys and are great at any time of the day. Situated 100 meters from Aurora Towers, the cart’s location means you can come on foot and join the long but swiftly moving queue or pull up in a car and order drive-thru style. Enjoyed best steaming hot, vada pavs should be eaten straight away – just don’t think about the calories, they’re too tasty to miss out on.
A trendy spot for late night dining, KUEBAR is open Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9pm until the early hours serving an impressive selection of drinks and a tantalizing array of Latin American dishes. A wall of colorful pop art leads guests into the intimate and soulful bar area, low lighting in different hues of blue and green are used to create private seating areas, and the in-house DJ completes the chilled party atmosphere with his choice of dance tunes. The char-grilled seafood skewers and the beer-marinated prawns served with cherry tomatoes and avocado are both must-try dishes that go perfectly with a Cuban cocktail.
In a blending of art and food, diners can have their caricature done whilst enjoying their meal at the innovative Malaka Spice. With an expansive dining room, al fresco eating areas, a street food section and an esteemed art gallery, there certainly is something to please everyone at this restaurant. The menu is a mixture of completely new, creative dishes and those much loved traditional favorites brought up to date with a contemporary twist. Try the satay from the street food kitchen or the top hats and the Thai mutton chops from the classic menu.
Offering guests views over the spectacular Mula Mutha River, Mix@36 may be more of a bar than a restaurant but the dishes on offer are still among the best found in Pune. Sit out on the alfresco deck with a martini and watch the world go by or cozy up inside in the beautifully warm and inviting seating area. The cuisine is international, with some of the most popular dishes being the tandoori chicken starters and the pizzas — perfect for sharing. Do as the locals love to do and lounge outside on the beanbags whilst watching the cricket match live on the bar’s screens.
This brightly lit and clean-cut internationally themed restaurant specializes in fresh from the market produce. As the name suggests, Seasonal Tastes only ever uses produce that is at its best right now in its creative and flavorsome dishes. Diners can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen and sample a whole array of delicious creations from the enticing buffet. As well as being a fantastic lunch and dinner destination, Seasonal Tastes is also greatly reputed for its Sunday brunch, which is said to have one of the most vast selections of breakfast time treats in the whole of Pune. To complete the Seasonal Tastes experience, order a cup of Jing tea or try out one of the handcrafted cocktails.
To experience truly traditional Punjabi food, a visit to The Great Punjab is certainly in order. Contemporarily decorated, this restaurant is very appealing to both couples and groups of friends in search of a tasty and satisfying dinner. Start with a portion of chili paneer and another of prawns koliwada to share between two. For main course order the mushroom lazeez, the mutton tikka and the chicken bhuna with a side of butter roti, naan bread and Jeera rice. Liquor lovers will appreciate the Whiskey menu that appears to be longer than the food menu and those after something sweet and fruity will have plenty to choose from off of the extensive cocktail list.