Over the last decade, I've spent more time exploring the food scene in Kozhikode and Kochi than the state's capital Thiruvananthapuram. It's why each time I'm back here, I'm pleasantly surprised with the wide array of culinary experiences in a city where the food scene is quite underrated. I'm no stranger in this city, I've spent quite a few school summer vacations here. This city holds a lot of special memories, my recent food experiences in the city have only added to these moments.
Just like many cities in South India, the city's food scene has been shaped by Thiruvananthapuram's IT workforce and documented by a growing band of digital content creators like Mohammed Muhusin who accompanied me through some of the city's trending street food establishments. Thiruvananthapuram's F&B scene is now a heady mix - fine dining venues, hipster cafes near the Kovalam beachfront and local culinary delights that mostly play out in grab and go outlets. We take you through some of the city's best:
7 Of The Best Hotels And Cafes At Thiruvananthapuram:
1. Villa Maya:
If you're looking for a spot for a romantic dinner or a relaxed lunch with your buddies, Villa Maya has to be on your list. It offers a completely different experience once the sun goes down with its mood lighting. This 18th century Dutch manor once enjoyed the attention of the royal house of Travancore and has been painstakingly restored. While the old manor has multiple intimate spaces, it's the al-fresco area that has our vote. The menu finds the balance between local flavours and global plates.
Airport Road, Eanchakkal, West fort
2. Oriental Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Trivandrum:
Pan-Asian restaurants have captured the fancy of diners across India, Thiruvananthapuram is no exception. Oriental Kitchen, fronted by an expat Chinese chef, isn't just one of the best Asian restaurants in town but one of the Thiruvananthapuram's best fine dining venues. The Asian grills and curries are a big draw with the city's well-heeled. But it's the restaurant's action station that has our attention. The restaurant is home to the city's first teppanyaki grill where chefs show off their culinary and juggling skills.
CV Raman Pillai Road, Thycaud
3. Rahmaniya Hotel:
To call Kethel's chicken one of Thiruvananthapuram's most popular dishes is not an exaggeration. Rahmaniya Hotel is a local institution and was set up by Mohammed Abdul Khader in 1949 in the bustling Chalai Bazaar area. It was his son- A Maheen, who is credited with introducing what has become one of the city's most popular chicken dishes. Get there early to beat the crowds and try Rahmaniya's signature Kethel's chicken that is marinated in chilli and their trademark masala before being deep fried with pepper and a garnish of chilli seeds. Wash it all down with their refreshing lime juice
4. Paragon Hotel:
The Thiruvananthapuram outpost of Kerala's legendary biryani brand. The Paragon journey started in Kozhikode, where they are still one of the most popular spots for the Kozhikodan biryani. Crafted with Jeerakasala - a small grain rice varietal, the Kozhikodan biryani's mix of spices are subtle; the biryani gets its colour almost exclusively from the fried onions. The flaky Malabar Parotta and the refreshing Sulaimani (black) tea are the other house favourites here.
5. Ofori Night Club:
It's one of the city's first standalone nightclubs. Ofori is more than just a trendy nightspot with a lively vibe, it's also a popular destination for the city's foodies. Ofori's dim sums are one of the stars of the show. Their clever twist of a vegetable dim sum with yellow Thai curry keeps showing up on Instagram feeds from the city. The desserts are photogenic too - do check out their spin on the Tiramisu and the Lotus Biscoff cheesecake.
Airport Road, Eanchakkal
Cafés have become the new chill zones where we unwind on a weekend or catch up on work over a latte. These cafes are also the new gourmet hubs where culinary trends take shape. Thiruvananthapuram's F&B scene has seen a slew of cafes debut. Longtime is one of our favourites with its cosy vibe and choice of indoor and outdoor seating areas. Longtime's pastas and peri peri prawns are among its bestsellers. Velvet Dawn Café is another great option in town.
7. German Bakery:
Sunsets in Kovalam are truly special. This popular beach district offers an array of cafes that are all hipster magnets. German Bakery is one such spot with an eclectic menu that combines German signatures, scrumptious seafood platters and delicious desserts. There's also Beatles Café and Grill House in the area.
Lighthouse Beach Road, Kovalam