Outdoor dining is one of the most definite trends to emerge in a post-COVID world. But there's one place where outdoor dining has held sway even though it can be quite sultry through much of the year. Pondicherry's appeal as a weekend getaway - especially from Chennai and Bengaluru, has hinged heavily on its dining scene. The city's French quarter and the progressive township of Auroville are the preferred F&B zones for tourists, both these hotspots offer a wide array of outdoor options.
Here Are 6 Of Pondicherry's Best Alfresco Restaurants:
1. La Villa
While Pondicherry may boast of a strong French connection, there are few dining spaces that offer fine French cuisine. Set in a 19th Century mansion that has been restored by two French architects - Tina Trigala and Yves Lesprit, this intimate dining space is helmed by Michel Christmann, a French chef who enjoys working with local ingredients. Their 7-course tasting menu (available on request) is one of our favourite fine dining experiences in Pondicherry. You are guaranteed a fascinating interplay of ingredients and textures.
Where: Surcouf Street
2. Coromandel Cafe
Coromandel has quickly emerged as one of Pondicherry's most popular F&B venues. It's also one of the most versatile dining options in town. It's perfect for a late breakfast with your favourite cocktail or a relaxed evening with your fellow travellers where you can unwind with a glass of bubbly and a wide array of sharing plates. This dining destination is housed in a century-old French villa - Le Maison Rose, that takes its name from its pale pink exteriors. Indian and world cuisine converge in a menu that is diverse and draws heavily from local ingredients.
Where: Romain Rolland Street.
3. Les Alizes - Palais De Mahe
This boutique offering from the CGH Earth group is just 50 metres away from the seaside promenade. South Indian influences and French architecture come together in this hotel with its majestic courtyard and period furniture. Les Alizes is the hotel's casual rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the erstwhile White town. The menu is a brilliant blend of South Indian signatures and global favourites with a strong emphasis on seafood that's fresh off the boat.
Where: Bussy Street
4. Le Duplex
One of the most historic addresses in town - this heritage building once served as the residence of the Mayor of Pondicherry. It might have morphed into a boutique hotel but still retains an old-world charm. The central courtyard that doubles up as the hotel's primary dining space is one of our favourite corners here. The menu is versatile - a reflection on the ever-evolving profile of weekend visitors to Pondicherry. You will find Asian favourites, Indian dishes and also a smattering of fusion and Creole cuisine - like a Gumbo or the Creole shrimp.
Where: Caserne Street
5. Tanto Trattoria Pizzeria
Tanto translates to abundance in Italian. You will certainly be spoilt for choice when it comes to pizzas and pastas. This Italian and Med restaurant offers a host of vegan and healthy options aside from fresh catch of the day. Most regulars keep coming back for their thin-crust pizzas. They offer a range of options crafted in organic spelt flour and extra virgin olives with veggies from their own kitchen garden. Processed and canned ingredients are a no-no, while their jiggly panna cotta is a bestseller.
Where: Kullapalayam, Auroville
6. Bay of Buddha, The Promenade Pondicherry
Pondicherry's beach promenade is arguably its most charming strip. Historic French colonial-era buildings and palms dot this famous street on the edge of the Bay of Bengal. There are very few F&B spaces that take you as close to the ocean as this rooftop restaurant at the Promenade. The menu is a mishmash of Asian cuisines that include signatures like the Miso glazed fish and Chicken Yakitori. But it's the views and the cool sea breeze that make it the perfect spot for sundowners and an intimate dinner.
Where: Goubert Avenue
About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie - a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.