Food is not just food it is a soul soother, which is proven by the fact that during the covid 19 lockdown, trend of people cooking dishes at home and sharing pictures on social media reached new heights. These dishes are mostly comfort food which were hard, or in some cases impossible to get during that time.
The restriction made me crave for some of my favourites and I ended up making a list of places I would go to once the lockdown eases. After making the list I realised that I have in-fact written down places that served the best of certain cuisine in the city which is worth sharing. So here I am, sharing my views on what constitutes as a must have in my city, Bhubaneswar.
Table of must try joints:
1. Satwik Food at Ananta Basudeva Temple.
2. Desi Odia food at Bhaina & Odisha Hotel
3. Mutton Biriyani at Royal.
4. SHIRAZ’S Chicken Biriyani/Mughlai.
5. True Italian/Mexican at Bling it On.
6. Fusion food at Michael’s Kitchen.
7. Nana’s home style mutton.
8. Chinese at Silver Streak.
9. ‘All you can eat’ Buffet at Zodiac.
10. Taste the Fish at Babumoshai.
11. Yummiest chaat of Chappan Bhog.
12. Panipuris of the town.
13. South India at Go South.
14. Bamboo Mutton at Jungle View.
15. Chicken Bharta of Pakwaan.
1. Satwik Food at Ananta Basudev Temple, Old Town
If you are craving for something satvik (purest form of vegetarian), then Anata Basudeva temple in Old Town would be the best place to be. This infact is the maha prasad also known as Abhada, which is offered to lord Krishna in this temple. Ananta Basudeva temple is part of the Lingaraj temple complex and sees long queues for Abhada during the afternoons.
Abhada mainly consists of Rice and Lentil and a few other vegetable based dishes. Typically there are around 12 dishes on offer everyday, mostly consisting of seasonal vegetables and pulses unless its some special occasion like janmastami when the spread is 56 dishes long.
One must try the ‘dahi pachedi‘ which is an yogurt based chutney made from a combination of yogurt, coconut, cucumber, jaggery and pomegranate.
You can sit down on the floor for a sumptuous meal which is served in a banana leaf or order a takeout in which case the food will be packed in earthen pots and provided to you. The lunch hour typically starts from 12:30 PM and extends till 2 PM, so choose your timing accordingly.
2. Desi Odia comfort food – Bhaina Hotel & Odisha Hotel
The best Odia comfort food is cooked in homes, but if eating out then two restaurants take the game head on. One being a small dhaba in Bapuji Nagar and another a small restaurant in Saheed Nagar.
Bhaina hotel of Bapuji Nagar, is a dhaba that once upon a time served the best mutton curry in Bhubaneswar, but then they went vegetarian. Some say it was because of the constant harassment they faced from some big food joints in the area, while some say that the owner had a change of heart. Whatever may be the history, fact is that now a days they serve the best vegetarian food in Bhubaneswar followed very closely by Odisha Hotel.
Odisha Hotel is a small restaurant in Saheed Nagar that specialises in Odia cuisine. They are not vegetarian as Mutton and fish are also very sought after dishes here. Serving in bronze plates, bowls and glasses, they give a royal feel to their patrons who find themselves licking the plates clean, because the food is simply that good. They have recently opened some branches at various points in the city, but it is the Saheed Nagar branch that people still vouch for.
Order anything from the menu in both Bhaina and Odisha Hotel, you won’t be disappointed. Bhaina hotel is famous for their Pakhala plate (fermented rice with mashed potato and vegetable fritters), while Odisha Hotel provides and sumptuous odia thali. Do try out the pumpkin flower fritters of Odisha hotel if you happen to go there
3. Mutton Biriyani – Royal Hotel, Saheed Nagar
I have tried Mutton Biriyani at many places in Bhubaneswar starting from fine dine restaurants to road side food stalls. None of them are as balanced as the biriyani made by Royal Hotel. The mutton chunks are juicy and tender, filled with flavour due to the long hours of slow cooking (dum). The rice is cooked properly with the spice content being on the lower end of hotness.
Biriyanis made by other restaurants either have mutton chunks those are not tender, or are bland due to pre boiling in water. If they succeed in this two areas they end up spicing it up so much that eating beyond 5-6 spoons become a tourturous ordeal.
Located a few meter inside a small service road, on the opposite side of RD Women’s College in Shaheed Nagar, Royal is a frequent food stop for foodies in the city. One needs to climb down a rickety staircase to reach the dining area. Yes, this restaurant is in the basement.
The friendly and warm waiters are a delight as well. Apart from the Biriyani, Chicken Mughlai Paratha is also a highly sought after dish of this restaurant. It is a paratha filled with minced Tandoori Chicken, big enough to fill the stomach of one person. Yes, 1 paratha for 1 person is enough.
I have been a regular to Royal since 2010, and it never disappointed me. The only thing one can complain about this place is the ambience, which is not something people who come here care about. If you happen to go to Royal on Non Vegetarian Days (yes that is a thing in Odisha) like Wednesday, Friday or Sunday, make sure you are early, else a seat would be very difficult to find.
4. Chicken Biriyani/Mughlai – Shiraz Golden Restaurant, Unit 4.
Located bang on a prime location in Sachivalaya Marg, Shiraz the famous restaurant chain has managed to make a mark on the Bhubaneswar’s culinary landscape in a very short time. Partly fuelled by its reputation from its Kolkata days, Shiraz was an instant hit among food enthusiasts when it opened here in 2012. Since then the great mix of tasty food, good ambience and super fast service has ensured Shiraz Golden Restaurant remains on the topers chart unhindered.
They are famous for their Mughlai spread, primarily focused in non vegetarian dishes. They serve the best Chicken Biriyani, Kebabs, Tikaas and Butter Chicken in the town. They are usually very busy on all non vegetarian days, and more often than not people have to wait for an hour or so before they can land a spot on a table. Advance reservations will be a good idea when going to Shiraz.
They also have some very special dishes on there menu which are only available if you order them in advance. Dishes like Khasi Tangdi Kabab (two whole mutton legs, costs Rs. 2000) and Khasi Mussalam (thats a whole goat, costs Rs. 8000).
I tried the Khasi Tangdi Kabab, which we had to order one day in advance and got it delivered to Office. No one can finish that thing alone!
5. True Italian/Mexican – Bling it on, Hotel New Marion.
Lately a lot of restro cafes have cropped up in Bhubaneswar that offer Mexican and Italian cuisines, but none come close to Bling It On. The continental restaurant of the New Marion Hotel, Bling It On, is a regular for people who crave for Continental cuisine.
Their menu ranges from chowder soup to Burritos, from grilled shrimps to cheesy omlets. Chicken Lasagna is however the most sought after dish in the restaurant and so is Chicken Ala Kiev.
I have tried a few of the dishes, but since I am not a big cheese lover, have liked them but haven’t fallen in love with. My favorite however is Honey Mustard Chicken Sausage, which is a sausage suate with honey and mustard sauce.
6. Fusion food – Micheal’s Kitchen, Sainik School
This restaurant located infront of Sainik school Bhubaneswar proudly represents the fusion food culture of Bhubaneswar. It is relatively new and considering the fact that fusion food isn’t everyones cup of tea, has a very niche patrons, who don’t allow for any slack.
Their menu keeps getting updated, red thai curry and my favourite Chicken Khau-sey being highly sought after dishes here. It is however their fusion food that attracts many visitors.
A burger made out of the humble Bara, a chaat made up of ground shrimps, a sweet made from paan and a unique twist on the chena poda are just some of the examples of their offerings. The chef has turned the typical odia food into awe inspiring peices of art both in terms of taste and presentation.
7. The desi Mutton Curry (home style) – Nana Hotel, NH 5.
Odia people love the mutton curry. The best mutton curries are simple, made of basic ingredients those only compliment the taste of mutton, unlike some heavy creamy concoctions found in parts of northern India that completely overpowers the mutton.
Only a handful of dhabas in Bhubaneswar have managed to nail the recipe of the home style mutton curry, the best among them is a quaint little dhaba on national highway 16 connecting Cuttack and Bhubaneswar known a Nana Hotel.
Located at Phulnakhara, this shabby little place looks nothing different from the any other highway side eatery. It’s the long line of Audis and Mercedes along the road that gives off that this place has something special about it.
It serves thalis and stuff but most people go there to have only one thing ‘mutton-bhata‘, which means Mutton Curry and Rice. Plain and simple, no fuss.
The interiors are dingy and they serve on disposable plates made out of leaves. Don’t expect any sort of ambience from this place as the only sounds you will hear is the commotion of people asking for more curry or the barring sound of vehicles speeding along the adjacent highway.
People from all over the state, when making a visit to Bhubaneswar, make it a point to stop and eat here. People like me also travel out of the city to soak in that rice drenched in a flavourful curry, with melt in mouth chunks of mutton.
8. Chinese/Oriental – Silver Streak, Nayapalli
Bang in front of ISCON ISCON temple stands Silver streak, a restaurant that specialises in Indian-ised Chinese. The kind of Chinese that has a modified taste to be more palatable to Indian tongue. The restaurant has over the years garnered a fan following who are almost religious about the place. They also have a branch in Saheed Nagar, which provides equally good food with far better ambience.
I however am a sucker for there original space, the one situated at Nayapalli, party because of the nostalgia and great memories this place has given me beside the awesome food.
Some of there best offerings are e-fu noddles, honey pepper chicken and chicken drumsticks, however everything on their menu is equally good. Give this place a visit if you want to try chinese while in Bhubaneswar, and I can assure you wont be disappointed.
9. ‘All you can eat’ Buffet – Zodiac, The Crown
To be honest, I am not a big fan of all you can eat buffets, however zodiac, the restaurant of hotel ‘The Crown’ has made a place for itself in my heart over time. Zodiac unlike some others buffets in the town, doesn’t differentiate between vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes and gives somewhat equal emphasis on both. It also has a decent mix when it comes to main courses, which is also a welcome attribute as most buffets tend to focus more on starters.
As an added advantage, they are probably the only one in town that offers crab in the bufet.
To be fair, if I am alone, chances are, I will never head to zodiac. It however makes sense when I am in a group and don’t want to argue or waste time on deciding the order. Zodiac is hands down, the best buffet restaurant in Bhubaneswar when you compare its cost-to-dishes ratio with respect to some other big wigs.
10. Fish & Bengali Cuisine – Babu Moshai, Unit 4.
I am a foodie , but I never order fish in restaurants, partly because of the struggle of negotiating through the bones. Its an ordeal I have reserved for my home, and prefer my restaurant outing to be smoother. That unless I am at Babu Moshai.
This restaurant was earlier known an Sohala Ana Odia, and for some reason they renamed it a couple of years back. Thankfully only the name changed, the taste and service remained the same. They are predominantly a bengali cuisine restaurant, which is why this place is a big hit among the good number of bengalis (like me) living in the city.
Fish paturi and bhapa Ilish are there best offerings when it comes to fish. Chicken Dak Bunglow, Chicken Malai tikka and Malai Prawn are some of the most sought after dishes.
They have taken authentic Bengali dishes like shukto and begun bhaja to a whole new level. The fact that people actually pay to eat fried brinjal is a testament to this. If you happen to visit, give a glance at their chef speciality of the day, which they very clearly showcase at the entry.
11. Chaat and Sweets – Chappan Bhog
Chappan Bhog is essentially a sweet shop that happens to sell chat and vegetarian fast food along with the sweets. Their sweets made out of dry fruits are always in high demand in the city. It is however the Raj Kachori Chat that pulls me again and again towards their shop in the Jaydev Vihar area.
12. Panipuri walas – Unit VIII (Sahoo Gupchup) and Tankapani Road (Bapa Maankara Ashirbada)
Pani puri is known as gupchup in Odisha, and two gentlemen specialise in making the best of gupchup known to man. One of them makes the best dry gupchup while the other provides the best wet variety.
Sahoo Gupchup is a food stall that operates in front of Kalyal Mandap in Unit VIII, Bhubaneswar. The gupchup here is filled with a little bit of curd, mashed potato, nuts, chickpea sprinklers, coconut and sauces. Served 8 gupchups in a plate and costs about Rs 20, this has been an mainstay in the gupchup scene since ages. Be prepared to wait for your turn when you reach here, as there always is a crowd gathered around.
In another end of the city a small stall owned by Mr. Purna, is selling the best vareity of wet gupchup, the one filled with mashed spiced potato and dipped in jaljeera water. His attention to detail on every customer’s taste preference is what catapulted this stall to a success within a year of opening. If he has 10 customers lined up and everyone has a different customization request in terms of quantity of spice, onion, salt etc, he makes sure they got what they asked for.
His gupchups were bigger in size than most of his counterparts in the area, added to that kids get free dry gupchups, while their parents eat at this stall made sure he remains popular among families. He is also the only one in the city whose dedication to cleanliness shows. He is fully decked up in head cover, mask (even before covid-19 came into picture) and gloves, cleaning his counter every time he gets a chance.
Purna has an extremely warm persona, and converses fluently in Odia, Hindi, English and Bangali, making him a go to guy for tourists who visit the nearby Raja Rani Temple. With 7 gupchups at the price of Rs 10. This is a steal!
13. South Indian at Go South
Hotel Priya located in Unit 3 and Trupti Veg Restaurant in Kalpana Square have held the baton of South Indian dish in the capital for a very long time. Lately, however a new challenger came in and swept the competition aside with ease. It is the famous chain, Go South, located in Technology Corridor, Infocity.
With a vast array of offerings, starting from the humble Masala Dosa to the hugely underrated Idiyapam and puttu, Go south offered the most undiluted south Indian experience. Adding to that the great ambiance and good service, made Go South an instant hit among office goers and college students alike.
14. Bamboo Mutton – Jungle View
Jungle view started off as a small dhaba behind the famous Nandan Kanan zoological park, primarily focusing of everyday meals for travelers and workers of the park. They however struck gold with the Bamboo Mutton, which is Mutton stuffed inside bamboo stem, locked from both ends and left to steam cook inside a coal oven.
Foodies from the city lined up just for that one dish. Gradually they kept expanding their menu and turned the small dhaba into a sprawling restaurant. Lately some have felt that the taste has dropped from what it used to be. They attribute it to the rapid expansion of the restaurant, which put a lot of pressure on the cooks to keep up with the huge number of orders they are receiving.
I tried the bamboo mutton a few months before covid 19 showed up, and found it to be still in good shape.
It is still their bamboo mutton that attracts most of the crowd, which makes sense why they would be inclined to maintain its standard. A few other restaurants and dhabas have tried to cash in on the craze of Bamboo mutton and have failed to reach the taste, flavor and tenderness that jungle view provides.
With time their tandoori items have also taken quite a good shape with tikkas and roasts making people drool as well. They also serve a much under appreciated dish, that is the Tandoori Naan. I have not found a more softer variety anywhere in Bhubaneswar, or even in India.
15. The best Chicken Bharta – Pakwaan
I have a very specific menu in mind when I refer to this restaurant. It is Chicken Bharta and Lachha Paratha. According to me it is the best boneless chicken recipe that ever existed. Made of shredded chicken, loaded with cream and eggs this preparation is not something everyone would readily accept. People don’t really expect chicken bharta to have milk cream in it and be so low on the spice. But I happen to love it as it stands out distinctively from the millions of chicken dishes that taste the same.
It goes best with Lachha Paratha, whose perfect flaky layers are the best scoop for this creamy chicken curry. They do serve thalis and there Biriyani is also pretty good.
Honorable Mention: The Overwhelming Ligaraj Lassi
This is not lassi, this is a meal in itself. Take one glass in the evening and yo won’t be needing dinner. Loaded with Khoya (dried milk), Rabdi (sweetened condensed milk), churned curd, coconut shavings and some basic dry fruits, its a glass of sweetness that is a must for most people in Bhubaneswar at least once in a year.
The shop operates for 8 months in the years, serving last on Dushera (October) and reopening in Maha Shivratri (February), as business is slow in the months of winter.
While at lingaraj lassi you must not even try to count the calories, and just enjoy the overwhelming sweetness on your tastebuds.
Food is a very personal choice and openions tend to differ. The list above is my personal favorite from the city. I have had the honor of having been in company of some real foodies who have helped shape my tastebuds. It would not be fair to not acknowledge them in this post. So here they are: