Anyone who has a craving for sweets should definitely make a stop here. Aside from the usual selection of baked goods, the English breakfast is a favourite among regulars. Interestingly enough, Satyajit Ray was a regular customer who dined there every Sunday morning.
India is a country with a rich culinary heritage and a diverse food culture, with some restaurants dating back over a century. These restaurants not only offer delicious food but also a glimpse into the country's rich history and culture.
If you're looking to experience a piece of India's culinary heritage, a visit to one of these century-old restaurants is a must.
1. Dorabjee and Sons, Pune
In Pune, Dorabjee and Sons is the oldest restaurant of its kind. The eatery was established in 1878 by Sorabjee Dorabjee, and initially, it was just a tiny tea stall providing treats such as bun maska and Irani chai. However, due to popular demand, it has now been turned into a full-service restaurant. The menu is simple and contains recipes cooked with love and ghee in the classic Parsi fashion. The special flavors make it stand out from other eateries.
2. Karim’s, Delhi
Karim's, located near Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, has been in business since 1913. It offers Mughal cuisine to its faithful customers. It has also developed a reputation for its ambience and is now a renowned hotel as well as a restaurant. The menu includes renowned dishes such as kebabs, tandoori bhara, mutton korma, mutton stew, chicken Mughlai, and chicken Jahangiri. Currently, the fourth generation is in charge of Karim Hotels Pvt. Ltd. at Jama Masjid, which includes the Dastar Khwan-E-Karim Restaurant in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi.
3. Tunday Kababi, Lucknow
Haji Murad Ali, the one-armed star cook of Lucknow's Nawab, started Tunday Kababi in 1905. Non-vegetarian gourmet preparations are cooked with the same age-old spices for generations.
One popular urban legend claims that as a young man, Haji Ali broke his arm after falling off the roof while perfecting the Shahi galawat recipe. While flying kites from a rooftop, he lost his balance and fell off the building, resulting in the amputation of his left arm. The rest, as they say, is history.
4. Shaikh Brothers Bakery, Guwahati
Nearly 125 years ago, an enterprising young man named Shaikh Ghulam Ibrahim travelled from Bengal's Hoogly district to Assam to help rebuild the road connecting Shillong and Guwahati. Ibrahim's family saw an opportunity to open a similar shop in Assam because their bakery on Calcutta's Mirzapur Street was thriving at the time. This bakery was a pioneer in the Assam region and was known for its Western confectionery products. It gained popularity among the locals, and even Jawaharlal Nehru was a fan of its cheese straws. This popular bakery is still renowned for its cheese straws, hot dogs, burgers, and more.
5. Leopold Cafe, Mumbai
The Leopold Cafe and Bar, Mumbai's oldest establishment, was opened by Sherezad Dastur in 1871 and is named after Belgium's King Leopold. Even today, Leopold Cafe and Bar, one of the city's first Irani cafes with a classic Iranian vibe, offers a wide variety of cuisines, including continental, Chinese, North Indian, and Mughlai specialties. Known for its rich history and cosy atmosphere, customers can enjoy a variety of cuisines, including continental, Chinese, North Indian, and Mughlai specialties.
6. Flury’s, Kolkata
Imagine a roaring Calcutta in the 1920s, when the city's chic eateries and bars were the envy of India. The Park Street tea room was founded in 1927 by a Swiss couple named Joseph and Freida Flury. For the first sixty years, it was known simply as Flury's. Anyone who has a craving for sweets should definitely make a stop here. Aside from the usual selection of baked goods, the English breakfast is a favourite among regulars. Interestingly enough, Satyajit Ray was a regular customer who dined there every Sunday morning.
7. Kesar Da Dhaba, Amritsar
Kesar Da Dhaba, located in a small alley off Chowk Passian's main drag and not far from the town's telephone exchange, has been going strong for 107 years. In 1916, Lala Kesar Mal and his wife Parvati opened the restaurant. A vegetarian's paradise, Kesar da Dhaba has a limited menu with 40 items, including Dal Makhni, Kadhai Paneer, Rajma, Baigan Bharta, and Saag. Their desserts include Ras Malai, Gulab Jamun, and Phirni.
It wasn't here, however, that the restaurant's history began. Sheikhupura, a province of pre-independence Pakistan, was the first place where the late Lala Lal Kesar set up shop. Ramesh Mehra, the fourth-generation owner, is keeping the Kesar Da Dhaba going strong with his family's delicious cuisine.
8. Glenary's Bakery and Cafe, Darjeeling
Glenary's Bakery and Cafe, which has been around since the British India era, is a landmark in Darjeeling. It is 130 years old and serves a variety of cuisines. The continental fare at Glenary's has earned it a reputation for excellence. It has everything one could want: a cosy setting, a vintage interior, delicious food, live music, and a magnificent view of Kanchenjunga.
It is indeed one of the best-known destinations in the world for gourmets and has been Darjeeling's most popular tourist destination. Don't miss out on beef steak, shepherd's pie, or lasagna, served alongside breathtaking views of the towering Kanchenjunga.
9. K. Bhagat Tarachand, Mumbai
In 1895, the late Shree Tarachand Chawla established a modest eatery in Karachi, marking the beginning of a legacy that continues to this day. His customers dubbed him "Bhagat" because of his honesty, kindness, and delicious cuisine. K. Bhagat Tarachand has been serving Punjabi and Sindhi cuisine since 1893. Their signature dishes are dal fry, papad churi, buttery soft phulkas, and the famous "Kutchi Beer" (Chaas).
Their rotis are made with whole wheat grown in Madhya Pradesh, their rice comes from the south, their potatoes are delivered fresh from Indore, their onions come from Lasalgaon (Nashik), their red chilies come from Kashmir, and their garlic is sourced from Rajasthan.
10. Britannia & Co., Mumbai
Britannia and Co., an iconic Parsi restaurant in Mumbai, opened in 1923 by Boman Kohinoor and is now run by the third generation of the Kohinoor family. Expats from Mumbai often visit Britannia & Co. to relive nostalgic moments from their youth. Even tourists and office workers alike flock to this place for its berry pulao, sali boti, dhansak, patra ni macchi, sali boti, kheema pav, etc.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, there are many other hidden gems of century-old restaurants across India that are worth visiting and are known for their delicious food and rich cultural heritage.
Whether it is traditional, ethnic, or continental, these restaurants have earned their place in the culinary world and will continue to do so for years to come.