Almost through this decade Bengaluru has evolved as one of India's genuine culinary capitals. The city's truly cosmopolitan nature, large expat audience, buzzing tech start-ups and creative chefs have all played their part. It's why it's not easy to restrict the city's top restaurants to a top 10. Our list is partial to newer restaurants as also establishments that have put Bengaluru on the national pedestal. Read on.
EDO, ITC Gardenia
The restaurant takes its name from the ancient name for Tokyo. EDO showcases the Izakaya-style of dining. It is a popular after hours hangout that owes its origin to the Japanese words 'I'- which means to stay - and 'sakaya' - meaning Sake (a Japanese alcoholic drink) shop. EDO has three distinct spaces. Our favourite corner is the Sushi counter, where a stone waterfall serves as a backdrop. And just like any typical Izakaya, EDO complements its wide range of Sushi, Sashimi, succulent Robatayaki and Bento meals with an exhaustive selection of Japanese single malts and Sakes.
Where: ITC Gardenia, Residency Road
Karavalli, The Gateway Hotel
In a city where diner loyalties are often fickle, Karavalli has stayed relevant for the longest time. The restaurant returned after a complete makeover in 2013, with its unwavering focus on the finest cuisine from the South West coast of India. The restaurant is reminiscent of a traditional-tiled Mangalorean house and tucked away under the shade of two large tamarind trees. Regulars keep coming back for the Kane fry (lady fish), bitter gourd with sugar cane curry and the ghee roast chicken.
Where: The Gateway Hotel, Residency Road
Kaze translates to wind from Japanese; a fitting name for one of the city's highest rooftop bars and restaurants with panoramic views of the city. The al-fresco area fills up faster during dinner but the indoor seating section with art deco elements is equally elegant. Pan-Asian holds sway here with exquisite sashimi and sushi platters and rice and curries from across Southeast Asia. Their large plates - try the New Zealand lamb chops - are quite formidable, but not as overwhelming as the Shibuya Chocolate Caramel toast, a dessert that qualifies as a main.
Where: SKAV 909, Lavelle Road
This restaurant has been one of the city's premier stand-alone dining options for a while now. The idyllic interiors recreate a tiny slice of a Mediterranean retreat in the heart of 'Old Bangalore' with a distinct lunch and dinner experience. You can choose between an open courtyard and a dedicated al-fresco bar area. Their timeless signatures include the Brie En Croute - Brie cheese baked, wrapped in a puff pastry and served with caramelised onion and orange marmalade, The Harissa prawn and the 8-hour lamb.
Where: Wood Street, Ashok Nagar
Phobidden Fruit, Vietnamese Kitchen
Phobidden Fruit has been one of Indiranagar's successful restaurant stories and shows that you don't need to be within the confines of a luxury hotel to deliver an authentic international dining experience. It has a cosy setting, especially at dinner, and Vietnam's best known broth - the Pho (pronounced fuh) - which is equally comforting. The fare is authentic - there's room for Vietnamese classics like banh xeo (sizzling pancake), banh cuon (rice rolls) and the banh mi (the French-inspired Vietnamese baguette sandwich) along with a host of salads that you can wash down with Vietnamese coffee.
Where: 12th Main Road, Indiranagar
Even if you're not a big fan of Mexican cuisine, Sanchez merits a visit for their Churros with oozing chocolate; probably the best you will find in Bengaluru. Located within one of the city's popular luxe retail and dining destinations, Sanchez brings both Mexican and Tex-Mex signatures together. The restaurant's al-fresco area is perfect for a Sunday brunch where you can keep sipping on their refreshing Margarita. Their 'live' Guacamole is crafted at your table with charred corn and black beans; we'd also recommend the Mexican version of the Ceviche, the beer-battered fish taquitos, and the homemade Chorizo Molletitos.
Where: UB City, Vittal Mallya Road
The Permit Room
South Indian classic dishes get a fresh lease of life in a whole new setting with quirky interiors. The cocktails derive inspiration from South Indian beverages as diverse as rasam and kashayam (health mixture). From Hyderabad's legendary haleem samosas that melt in your mouth to Kerala beef fry presented on coin parottas, to a raw banana pollicchatu with mozzarella cheese, and to a deconstructed Madurai jigarthanda, the menu is full of delicious surprises.
Where: Magrath Road, Ashok Nagar
The Smoke Co.
Koramangala is one of the city's culinary hotspots and also home to the city's first contemporary smokehouse. The restaurant's calling card is a state-of-the-art 'smoker' that dishes out high quality meats - almost all the meats are produced in-house. The Charcuterie Platter is perfect for first-timers and allows you to order any four items of your choice. The bresaola (air-dried, salted beef), the spicy chorizo and the pork andouille sausage are some of their bestsellers while their bakery produce (check out the Southern-style corn muffin and buttermilk biscuit) is excellent too
Where: 6th Cross, 6th Block, Koramangala
Toast and Tonic
Toast and Tonic is largely inspired by the free-thinking culture of Manhattan's East Village of the 1960s. Some of that plays out in the interiors - chip-board walls and roofs, hand-crafted light fittings and a grand bar with layers of pinewood. The menu stays clear of stereotypes with an emphasis on locally-sourced produce. Aside from their legendary gin and tonics, regulars will recommend the pork tea with floating tortellini, black fungus and pickled ginger, and their flat breads - the spicy Korean pork sausage and the five mushrooms with burrata are the pick.
Where: Wood Street, Richmond Road, Ashok Nagar
If you're looking for the finest dim sums in Bengaluru, look no further. Part of the global chain and conceived as an all-day Chinese dim sum teahouse, the restaurant focuses on authentic Cantonese cuisine with modern influences. The Cheung fun or rolled rice noodles, a quintessential Hong Kong delicacy is one of the restaurant's most ordered dishes. But it's the har gau - the scrumptious steamed prawn dumpling that is almost translucent - that is the Yautchua's standout dim sum.
Where: 1 MG, Lido Mall, MG Road
Bengaluru's dynamic F&B scene continues to evolve and is a great blend of international dining experiences and restaurants where local recipes and ingredients also shine. The city's traffic woes have also seen the emergence of strong neighbourhood restaurants, ensuring Bangaloreans don't have to travel too far for a world class meal.
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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.